JCDS COVID-19 Resources


Letter from the Head of School

Dear Community,

Our guiding principles for this new school year continue to be ערבות Areyvut (Communal Responsibility), בריאות Briyut (Health and Safety), and שלמות Shleymut (Spreading Calm). Their relevance continues to guide our year this year as we aim to continue to offer your children a meaningful, safe and comfortable year where deep learning and emotional growth has the space to flourish.

We know our students, teachers and parent community are longing for a normal year. Building on the exceptionally positive outcome of last year during which we had NO known transmission of COVID-19 within the school, we are strongly positioned to enter the fall with a routine much closer to a typical school year, while maintaining a commitment to safety, with a stance of flexibility. We continue to be guided by the expertise of our medical advisors, both from the greater Boston Jewish day school community and our volunteers from our JCDS community. We will continue to stay abreast of changes in COVID-19 prevalence, and the most updated guidance from health authorities.

We cannot do this work alone. We depend on all of you to keep these values front and center as we embark on another year in the context of COVID-19.

לבריאות (to your health),

Shira Deener
Head of School



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 exposure, or who are returning less than 10 days after Covid 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 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 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.

Guiding Principles ➲

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

Medical Task Force ➲

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

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)

Resources ➲

Communications ➲

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

COVID-19 Protocols ➲

2021–2022 COVID-19 Protocols

Given the rise of COVID variants, changes in our understanding of the disease, and the fluctuation in infection rates over time, these protocols are subject to periodic changes.

These protocols are implemented at the start of the 2021-2022 school year, and will be in effect for the first eight weeks of school, at which time they will be revised and updated as needed.

Table of Contents

1.0 Health and Safety
2.0 Vaccination
3.0 Masking
4.0 Testing
5.0 Ventilation
6.0 Distancing
7.0 Extracurricular Activity and Playdates
8.0 Bus / Transportation
9.0 Building Visitors
10.0 Travel
11.0 Definitions: Close Contacts and Exemptions
12.0 Testing and Quarantine Response Protocols

1.0 Health and Safety

It is extremely important for the health and safety of the school for individuals to stay home when exhibiting symptoms of illness, especially any symptoms compatible with COVID-19. If a student or staff member exhibits any of the following symptoms prior to start of a school day, they must remain home, contact the school nurse to report symptoms, and contact their healthcare provider for guidance:
  • Fever (100.0°F or higher), chills, or shaking chills
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Muscle aches or body aches
  • Cough (not due to other known cause, such as chronic cough)
  • Sore throat, when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea when in combination with other symptoms
  • Headache when in combination with other symptoms
  • Fatigue, when in combination with other symptoms
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose (not due to other known causes, such as allergies) when in combination with other symptoms
Individuals experiencing any of the above symptoms should follow protocols described under "Symptomatic Individuals" below.

2.0 Vaccination

COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be effective and safe. Vaccinated people are much less likely to become infected, transmit infection, and fall seriously ill or die compared to unvaccinated people. Widespread vaccination, along with masking, are our key pathways to making the coming year as safe as possible, with the least degree of disruption to school routines. Our policy currently requires that all eligible JCDS faculty and staff be vaccinated, except in the case of documented medical exemption. On the recommendation of the Boston Jewish Day School Advisory Committee and the JCDS Medical Task Force, our policy is that all students over age 12 will need to be fully vaccinated in order to attend classes. We anticipate that students will need to provide documentation of vaccination status by October 15th. If you have not done so already, please bring your child to a vaccine provider as soon as possible. Once younger children are eligible for the vaccine, our vaccination policy will apply to this age cohort as well.

3.0 Masking

We follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control, American Academy of Pediatrics, Mass Dept of Public Health, and Mass Dept of Elementary and Secondary Education, who all recommend universal masking in K-12 schools. All students, adults and visitors will be required to wear masks while indoors at school, and while riding a school bus. When eating indoors is necessary, additional distancing measures will be taken. Masks will not be required when outdoors. Please supply your child with at least two clean, effective, and well-fitting masks each school day.

4.0 Testing

JCDS is finalizing in-school COVID-19 testing plans. The program was developed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and is administered by CIC Health. The program has three components:
  • BinaxNOW Rapid antigen testing for students and staff who develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school.
  • Routine COVID-19 safety checks, to prevent spread of the virus that may otherwise go undetected among attendees who are not showing symptoms.
  • "Test and Stay" for students who may have been exposed to COVID-19 while in school; but are not showing symptoms.
To reduce the potential for in-school spread of COVID-19, JCDS intends to participate in all three arms of this program. Further descriptions of test processes (including graphics and videos) can be found at this Shah Family Foundation website.

Parental consent is required in order to participate in any school-based COVID-19 testing. Consent may be granted by completing this CIC Health form.

Additional details on the above components:
  • BinaxNOW rapid antigen testing is used when a student or staff member develops symptoms of COVID-19 while at school. This allows early identification of COVID-19. BinaxNOW tests are administered by the school nurse. Test results are available in 15 minutes.
    • Individuals with a positive BinaxNOW test result will be seated in a separate medical waiting room, and must be picked up (they may not take the bus home). They must follow the protocols below under “Individual Tests Positive for COVID-19".
    • Symptomatic individuals with a negative BinaxNOW test must still be picked up and go home from school (and may not take the bus home). They must follow the guidelines below under "Symptomatic Individuals".
  • Routine COVID-19 safety checks (a.k.a. pooled testing) will be conducted once weekly on all students in the building who are not fully vaccinated. While this is not mandated, we highly encourage all students in this category to participate. Please submit your forms ASAP so we can begin this procedure. All vaccinated individuals (students, faculty, and other staff members) are also encouraged to participate in this program.
    • Once per week, lower nasal swab samples are collected from all participants. Swabs grouped and tested for COVID-19 together (up to 10 samples per pool). Results of the pool test are usually reported in under 24 hours.
      • If a pool test is positive, individual swabs (obtained simultaneously with the pooled swabs) will be automatically tested at the lab, to identify the person(s) in the pool who are positive. Parents will be notified at each stage of the process.
      • Close contacts of positive cases will be identified, and will follow protocols described below under "Test and Stay".
  • "Test and Stay" permits unvaccinated students who have been identified as a close contact of a person who tested positive for COVID-19 at school to remain in school, as long as they are not showing symptoms. For more details, see below under "Test and Stay" for seven days after their exposure.
Note: a test is indicated for anyone, regardless of vaccination status, who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Students and staff who become symptomatic at home must not come to school and should contact their primary care provider, and notify them that the school requires a negative test result prior to return.

For more detail, see below under "Testing and Quarantine Response Protocols".

5.0 Ventilation

All rooms are equipped with updated ventilation systems and HEPA filters which provide several clean air changes per hour.

6.0 Distancing

Per updated guidance from CDC, a distance of at least 3 feet indoors will be maintained between individuals wherever possible. We will eat outdoors as much as possible, and maintain 6 feet distance between individuals whenever eating inside is necessary.

7.0 Extracurricular Activity and Playdates

We rely on our community of parents to adhere to state and local guidelines, and exercise caution in gathering with others, especially regarding indoor gatherings of unvaccinated children. Best practice expectations include:
  • Play outdoors when possible.
  • Wear masks and ventilate spaces when indoors.
  • Limit the number of unvaccinated contacts, particularly indoors.
  • Vaccinate all eligible close contacts.

8.0 Bus / Transportation

8.1 Bus

  • All persons riding a bus to school must be masked.
  • Windows will be open during the ride.
  • No eating is allowed on the bus.

8.2 Car pools

When carpooling is necessary, all occupants should adhere to the following guidelines:
  • Wear a mask at all times.
  • Carpool with only members of the same classroom when possible.
  • Open windows as much as possible (at least 3").
  • Spread out from each other as much as feasible.
  • NEVER participate in a carpool if feeling unwell, or if overtly sick.

9.0 Building Visitors

We will welcome masked parents and other visitors into the school building this year. Please do not come to the building if you are not vaccinated, even if wearing a mask – for the safety of all. Please do not enter the building if you have any COVID-19-compatible symptoms. We will not be requiring proof of vaccination, but instead we will rely on each person's fidelity to JCDS' enduring commitment to our value of ערבות, areyvut (communal responsibility).

10.0 Travel

Follow travel guidelines as described by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and CDC.

11.0 Definitions: Close Contacts and Exemptions

In the event of a positive COVID-19 case on campus, the school is required to identify close contacts via contact tracing. A close contact in a K-12 school setting is defined as someone who was within 3 feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. Protocols for close contacts are described below, in addition to exemptions in certain scenarios.

Close contact exemptions from testing and quarantine protocols:
  • Fully-vaccinated close contacts are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols as long as they remain asymptomatic.
  • Classroom close contacts are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols as long as both individuals were masked and were spaced at least 3 feet apart.
  • Bus close contacts: Individuals on buses must be masked, per federal requirements. As such, individuals who are masked on buses when windows are open are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols (regardless of distancing).
  • Close contacts who have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 within the past 90 days is exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols if:
    • The exposure occurred within 90 days of the onset of their own illness, AND
    • The exposed individual is recovered and remains without COVID-19 symptoms.

12.0 Testing and Quarantine Response Protocols

This section outlines testing and quarantine response protocols for individuals (students and staff) who test positive for COVID-19, close contacts who are not exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols, and symptomatic individuals. Scenarios are based on DESE guidelines. Each scenario outlines the duration of any recommended quarantine or isolation, the conditions to be met in order for the individual to return to school, and additional considerations.

12.1 Individual Tests Positive for COVID (Regardless of Vaccination Status)

Next Steps:
  • Self-isolation for a minimum of 10 days after symptom onset or after positive PCR or antigen test (if asymptomatic).
  • Return to School – Individual may return to school after 10 days if they meet both the following conditions:
    • Been without fever for 24 hours (without taking fever-reducing medications).
    • Experienced substantial improvement in other symptoms.
Individuals who do not meet these criteria after 10 days may receive clearance from either public health authority contact tracers (their local board of health, or Community Tracing Collaborative) or a school health professional, before returning to school.

  1. Return to school is based on time and symptom resolution. Repeat testing prior to return is not recommended.
  2. If an individual tests positive as part of a group pooled test, the 10-day period begins the day the group pooled test returned a positive result.

12.2 Asymptomatic Close Contacts

Next Steps – 3 Options:
  1. Test and Stay
  2. 7-Day Quarantine
  3. 10-Day Quarantine
1. Test and Stay: test for 7 days, from the date of exposure. Tests will be conducted by the school nurse or designated aide at the start of each school day. Close contacts may remain in school and do not have to quarantine, provided they meet the following conditions:
  • Are asymptomatic.
  • Wear masks in school at all times, other than when eating or drinking. When these individuals cannot be masked, they maintain 3 feet of distance from other individuals to the extent feasible.
  • Take a rapid antigen test (e.g., BinaxNOW) on each school day and receive a negative result. When the 7 days from date of exposure includes weekends or holidays, individuals should quarantine on weekends, and if they remain asymptomatic, upon return to school to school be tested immediately. If the individual remains negative, they can remain in school.
  • Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if any symptoms develop.
2. Seven-Day Quarantine (with testing) – Quarantine is at least 7 days from the date of exposure. Individuals may return to school after 7 days, returning on day 8, provided that the following conditions are met:
  • Remain asymptomatic.
  • Receive a COVID PCR test on day 5 or later, with a negative result.
  • Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14, and self-isolate at home if any symptoms develop.
3. Ten-Day Quarantine (no testing) – Quarantine is at least 10 days from the date of exposure. Individuals may return to school after 10 days, returning on day 11, if the following conditions are met:
  • Have not experienced symptoms up to this point.
  • Conduct active monitoring for symptoms through day 14 and self-isolate if symptoms develop.
  1. If an individual has symptoms at the time they are designated as a close contact or within the 14 days following initial exposure, follow the protocol for symptomatic individuals. If an individual tests positive at any time, follow the protocol for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.
  2. Fully-vaccinated individuals identified as close contacts are exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols, but are still expected to monitor for symptoms, and must follow the protocol for "Symptomatic Individuals" if they experience any symptoms.

12.3 Symptomatic Individuals

Applies to non-vaccinated and vaccinated individuals who experience symptoms of COVID-19. Next Steps - 2 Options:
  1. Return to school post-symptoms with test.
  2. Choose not to receive a COVID test to return to school.
1. Return to school post-symptoms with test – Individuals may return to school after the following conditions have been met:
  • Received a negative result from a COVID-19 PCR or rapid antigen test processed by a lab (at-home tests not accepted).
  • Have substantial improvement in symptoms.
  • Have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Note: If the symptomatic individual was a close contact who is not exempt from testing and quarantine response protocols, after symptoms resolve and they receive a negative test, they should follow the Test and Stay protocol. If the family or adult individual opts not to participate, they must follow the 7 or 10 day protocol.

2. Choose not to receive a COVID test to return to school – Individuals may return to school after 10 days, returning on day 11, after the following conditions have been met:
  • Have substantial improvement in symptoms.
  • Have been without fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication.

FAQs ➲

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 COVID19 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.