JCDS COVID-19 Resources



When will JCDS move to a Mask-Optional policy? ➲

On March 14th– We have determined that this will give us ample time to adequately prepare our faculty, staff, and students for this change. We will be using the two weeks after February break to educate, practice, and reinforce our behavioral expectations to ensure a smooth transition for everybody.

Are there times when masking will remain necessary? ➲

To start, Mask-Optional will apply to most of the school day. For now, however, masks will be kept on during Kabbalat Shabbat, T'fillot, and other large indoor multi-grade gatherings. Students and staff who are aware of a recent COVID-19 exposure, or who are returning less than 10 days after COVID-19 diagnosis, will also need to wear a mask. In addition, per current federal guidelines, masking continues to be required on all school buses.

Can parents and other visitors come to JCDS unmasked? ➲

Adult visitors in the building may remove their masks if they meet the following criteria: they are fully vaccinated, asymptomatic, and not aware of any recent COVID-19 exposure. An unvaccinated child accompanying a parent or guardian into the building must wear a mask, if possible. Children under two years old are not obligated to wear one, but their time inside the building should be kept to a minimum.

Will students be allowed to unmask during dance troupe, makhela (choir), after-school programs, basketball practices, and games? ➲

For the time being, students will remain masked during mixed-grade activities, as well as other large, multi-aged school gatherings.

Can unvaccinated students participate in the Mask-Optional protocol? ➲

Per guidance from state health authorities, we strongly recommend that unvaccinated individuals continue to wear masks in school.

Will JCDS continue its other COVID-19 mitigation protocols? ➲

Yes. We will continue weekly pooled surveillance testing (with participation available to all students and staff on a voluntary basis), and continue "Test and Stay" protocols for people identified as close contacts. We will also maintain enhanced indoor ventilation, and our policy that students and staff with symptoms of illness remain home and be tested before returning to the building.

What will Milestones look like? ➲

For now, when attending large group gatherings, guests should plan to come masked. Students can participate in Mask-Optional protocols.

What will lunch protocols look like? ➲

On cold days, students will continue to eat indoors 6' apart. This will allow us to accommodate all of our students and staff together, those who are masking as well as those who are not. When weather permits, they will eat outdoors with no distancing required.

How will JCDS help our students navigate through this murky time where some will have masks on and others will not? How can you help alleviate any associated anxiety? ➲

We are prepared to support students who are feeling anxious or fearful. We are also prepared to ensure a climate of safety and acceptance for all choices made regarding masking. There will be no tolerance of pressure or ridicule toward those whose families have decided to participate in Mask-Optional or those who wish to continue masking. We are well-versed in upholding a high standard of respect towards our community members, and mask wearing is just another topic to which our pluralism and Habits of Mind and Heart applies.

How will you introduce the new mask optional protocol to the students? ➲

As staff and faculty, we will model for children through conversation, home-made videos, and reminders of our behavioral expectations. We also look towards our strong partnership with you as parents, and are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Do you have suggestions for how to talk to my child about the change? ➲

Consider using the metaphor of weather as a kid-friendly way to discuss why mask-optional is okay for now. You might offer something like this: "The adults in the school are like meteorologists who follow the weather. They are watching for how much Covid is in the air, just like a meteorologist watches for how much rain is in the air. When it rains heavily, the meteorologist recommends wearing rain boots and raincoats, but when it is drizzling lightly, it is up to each person to decide what they will wear outside. Some will wear a raincoat and others will not. Right now, there is not a lot of Covid in the air, so it is safe enough to make the school "mask-optional"."


What if my child is worried or has questions? ➲

Answer your child's questions directly while keeping in mind not to answer in greater detail than what they are asking – stick to what is on their mind, not what their question might open up for you. Remember, some children will be ready to take their mask off immediately, others may not yet be comfortable, and some might be very against the idea. Be assured that we will respect your family and child's decision. It is important to keep in mind children's resilience and their ability to adapt to changes. However, if your child has more questions than you would expect or displays excessive worries regarding this shift in their environment, please guide them to talk to their teacher or advisors. Also, Derek, Marci, Judy, and Shira are always available to support our students – please feel free to be in touch!

Is JCDS watching closely for changes in Covid prevalence? How will the school determine if we need to revert to a mask mandate in the school? ➲

As always, JCDS will continue to monitor public health data and adapt our protocols as needed in consultation with our medical advisors.

Please be assured that we are adapting our protocols as needed and remain steadfast in our goal of keeping your children, our faculty and staff safely in school.

We know that Omicron spreads quickly and easily, but we also know that our in-building protocols work to mitigate spread:
  • Tight-fitting, highly-effective filtering masks worn on everyone indoors;
  • Ventilation (HEPA filters running, windows open when possible);
  • Eating outdoors whenever possible, and maintaining 6' distance whenever eating indoors is necessary;
  • Staying home if experiencing any symptoms of illness.

We are now adopting the following updates to our protocols, incorporating recent guidance from health authorities (CDC, DPH, and DESE) and our medical advisors. We expect to revisit our protocols as circumstances and external guidelines change.

  • Students and Staff Returning from Covid Illness:

    • Students and staff diagnosed with covid may return to school after five (5) days of home isolation, provided they have been without fever for 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medication), and other symptoms have substantially resolved. Returning individuals must wear masks around others indoors at all times.*
    • To minimize the chance of spread, best practice includes a negative antigen test performed at the end of the isolation period. On the morning of returning to school (day 6) parents should conduct a rapid antigen test at home and be prepared to keep their student home if the test is positive. They should contact the school with their test result. Please see below on "Access to Testing.

  • Students With a Known Exposure to Covid (Asymptomatic):

    • Students who are not fully vaccinated, and exposed to covid inside the school, may participate in the DESE-sponsored “Test and Stay" program, using DESE-supplied rapid antigen tests, conducted daily for 5 school days. If not participating in Test and Stay, they must remain home in quarantine, with a negative covid test (PCR or antigen) obtained 5 days after exposure, in order to return on day 6; or enter a 10-day quarantine (without testing)
    • Students who are not fully vaccinated, and exposed to covid outside the school, are not eligible to participate in the DESE-sponsored Test & Stay program. These students must quarantine at home, and have a negative covid test conducted 5 days after exposure, in order to return on day 6; or quarantine for 10 days (without testing).
    • Fully-vaccinated students who are exposed to covid (in or out of school) are also not eligible to participate in the DESE-sponsored "Test and Stay" program, but are eligible to attend school.
      • To minimize the chance of spread, best practice is for exposed, vaccinated students to have a negative antigen test conducted daily for 5 consecutive days after last exposure (as with Test and Stay). Parents should perform these tests each morning at home, and advise the school of results. In the event of a positive result, the student should remain home. We recognize this process presents challenges: please see below on "Access to Testing".

  • Symptomatic staff and students: please refer to the 2021-2022 covid protocol section on symptomatic individuals (under Covid-19 Protocols tab below).

    • Access to Testing: we know that antigen tests are in short supply, which may limit ability to apply these protocol. JCDS is committed to helping families keep students in school. We are purchasing antigen tests in bulk to use for this purpose, but unfortunately don't expect delivery until 1/18. In the meantime, we are actively investigating other resources. If you lack access to needed tests, please reach out to JCDS and to your other communities. – we are committed to work together to find a way to keep your student in school based on these revised protocols.

  • Areyvut (Communal Responsibility) ערבות
  • Briyut (Health and Safety) בריאות
  • Shleymut (Spreading Calm) שלמות

Medical Task Force ➲

    We have immense gratitude for our medical advisors who remain available for periodic consultation regarding Covid matters:

  • Dr. Michael Agus (Boston Children's Hospital, Critical Care)
  • Dr. David Chodirker (Founder, Wellesley Family Care Associates)
  • Dr. Doron Korinow (Newton Wellesley Hospital, ER)
  • Derek Lichter (JCDS School Nurse)
  • Dr. Bruce Weinstock (Massachusetts General Hospital, Emergency/Pediatrics)

  • and the Boston Day School Medical Advisory Committee:

  • Dr. Michael Agus (Boston Children's Hospital, Critical Care)
  • Dr. Jason Comander (Massachusetts General Brigham, Inherited Retinal Disorders Service)
  • Dr. Michael Klompas (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Infectious Diseases)
  • Dr. Camille Kotton (Massachusetts General Hospital, Transplant and Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases)
  • Dr. Benjamin Raby (Boston Children's Hospital, Pulmonary Medicine & Pulmonary Genetics)
  • Dr. Sabrina Vineberg (Boston Children's & Winchester Hospital, Emergency Medicine)

  • Dr. Michael Agus (Boston Children's Hospital, Critical Care)
  • Dr. Jason Comander (Massachusetts General Brigham, Inherited Retinal Disorders Service)
  • Dr. Michael Klompas (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Infectious Diseases)
  • Dr. Camille Kotton (Massachusetts General Hospital, Transplant and Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases)
  • Dr. Benjamin Raby (Boston Children's Hospital, Pulmonary Medicine & Pulmonary Genetics)
  • Dr. Sabrina Vineberg (Boston Children's & Winchester Hospital, Emergency Medicine)

COVID-19 Protocols ➲

2022–2023 COVID-19 Protocols

Revised September 22, 2022

Each family's cooperation in keeping sick children out of school remains of utmost importance. Please do not send a sick kid to school, even if an initial COVID-19 rapid test is negative.

Table of Contents

Isolation and Quarantine Protocols
COVID-19 Testing

Isolation and Quarantine Protocols

  • Students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate themselves for at least 5 days. To count days for isolation, Day 0 is the first day of symptoms OR the day the positive test was taken, whichever is earlier. If they are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving, and have been free of fever for at least 24 hours, they may return to school after day 5, provided:
    • They wear a mask while indoors through day 10.*
    • Masks may be removed after two negative rapid antigen tests, conducted at least one day apart, starting on day 5 or later. Test results (including photo of test) should be communicated to the school nurse.
    • After day 10, no further testing is required in order for them to return to school.
  • Students and staff who develop new symptoms may be tested for COVID-19 at home or at school (if consent has been granted). They may return to school if they test negative, have been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication, and their other symptoms are resolving. Alternatively, a medical professional may make an alternative diagnosis which deems them safe to return to school; this diagnosis should be communicated to the school nurse.
  • Quarantine for asymptomatic exposed students and staff is not required. Those individuals identified as close contacts may continue to attend programming, as long as they remain asymptomatic, and wear a mask until 10 days after last exposure.
    • A home test on day 6 of exposure is recommended, but not required. If symptoms develop, follow the guidance for symptomatic individuals, above.
    • Parents must notify the school if their child is identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 outside school (at home or in another setting).

    * Students returning to school after day 5 of COVID-19 isolation will eat in designated locations to ensure six feet of distance from others while unmasked.


    • Any individual who wishes to wear a mask will be supported in that choice.
    • A mask is to be worn when new symptoms develop while in school, and whenever visiting the nurse's office for symptoms.
    • Masking is not required while the individual is outside, eating, drinking, or sleeping.

    COVID-19 Testing

    • Rapid antigen tests will be available at the nurse's office for students and staff who develop symptoms during the school day, and who have consent on file for testing.
    • JCDS will not be screening students and staff for COVID-19, either via pooled PCR tests collected at school, rapid antigen tests sent home, or a “Test and Stay" protocol (at home or school). In addition, JCDS will not be providing screening tests for asymptomatic close contacts; if desired, these should be done at home.


    • All students and staff are expected to maintain up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination status, including boosters, when eligible.
    • Please be sure that your child's other routine immunizations are up-to-date, and vaccination documentation is on file with the school nurse, or your child will not be allowed to be in school, in accordance with state law. JCDS will strictly enforce this policy.


    • JCDS will maintain enhanced building ventilation (via HEPA filters and open windows). Room air quality monitoring (via CO2 level) will be conducted on a spot basis throughout the year.


    • Asymptomatic individuals are welcome in our building. All visitors are expected to maintain up-to-date COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters, when eligible. This includes: pick up, drop off, milestones, and all-school celebrations.

Resources ➲

Under Construction

Click here to view the 8.23 Parent Town Hall #1: JCDS Back to School recording
Click here to view the 8.23 Parent Town Hall #2: Boston Day School Medical Advisory Committee recording

What are the rules about bringing a younger child into the school during drop-off, or at dismissal/pick-up? ➲

All adult visitors to the building must be fully vaccinated and masked. Parents should remain in the building no longer than 15 minutes at drop-off and dismissal time. Any unvaccinated child accompanying a parent or guardian into the building must also wear a mask if possible, and maintain 6' distance from students who are not members of their family. Children under two years old are not obligated to wear a mask, but their time inside the building should be kept to an absolute minimum.

What kind of masks are acceptable? ➲

At minimum, all masks must fit snugly (no gaps) and have evidence of good filtration efficacy. Examples of disposable paper masks in this category include ones certified as ASTM level 1 or better, KF94, or KN95. Multilayered cloth masks are acceptable for children, as long as they fit snugly and include a filtration layer (whether built-in or replaceable) for which the maker has documented proof of good filtration efficacy. Single-layer cloth masks, gaiters, and bandanas are not acceptable.

How does one obtain COVID-19 testing? ➲

Access to a PCR test with timely results varies by location, healthcare provider policy, and the reason for testing. The first option is to contact your or your child's primary healthcare provider. Different providers follow different testing criteria and are connected to different testing sites. Explaining JCDS protocols for return to school can sometimes allow access to testing in situations where one might otherwise be deferred or refused. It is also important to ask the typical time to obtain results.

Here is some guidance on obtaining a test when one is not available via a PCP's office:
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts maintains a searchable list of covid19 testing sites, and sponsors several Regional "Express" test sites run by Project Beacon.
  • The City of Cambridge Public Health Department offers free PCR testing for Cambridge residents, several days per week.
  • The City of Somerville offers limited free testing for Somerville residents several days per week in Winter Hill.
  • CIC Health (a partner of the Broad Institute) in Kendall Square, offers PCR tests to individuals with results within 24 hours (some sites are free, some cost $80 per test).
Home-based mail-order testing is also available from companies like LabCorp and Vault. Test results take 1-3 days after samples are received by the lab.