Reopening Safely During a Pandemic

On July 27, 2021 the Joint Religious School Committee unanimously approved a policy to safely reopen our schools using a multi-access learning model. Highlights of the policy follow with a link to the full policy in the sidebar of the parent blog and at the end of this article.

Guidelines have been developed to reduce the risk to students, faculty and volunteers being exposed to COVID-19 with the understanding that all circumstances can not be completely controlled. The COVID-19 landscape is dynamic and evolving. We will endeavor to adjust our recommendations to address these changes as best we can.

Policy Development and Review

Our policy has been developed with guidance from congregational and community members who have expertise in healthcare, public health, education, law and building maintenance/safety. We are grateful to their generosity in sharing their knowledge with us and guiding us as we learn how to keep our school community healthy and safe. This policy will be reviewed at least monthly by the Director and Joint Religious School Committee (JRSC) throughout the pandemic with continued guidance from these congregational and community experts. 

Guiding Principles

Pikuach nefesh is the Jewish value of saving a life. In order to save a life, almost any other commandment can be cast aside; it is the highest of mitzvot to protect the life of another. Indeed, we are even told that to save one life is equivalent to saving the entire world. It’s absolutely our duty to do what we can to save lives. 

We must protect our most vulnerable. Many of our students are children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (e.g., using multiple prevention strategies together) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated. We have chosen to require adults and students who are fully vaccinated to follow the same strategies as those who are unvaccinated so that they may serve as role models for the younger students. 

In order to allow parents choices in when and where their students learn and at the same time support our OKCJS K’hillah (community) we will use a multi access learning model that will allow students in our classrooms and at home to learn together at the same time. Students whose parents are more comfortable with them learning at home can do so. Children whose parents prefer them to be in the classroom can learn together with their peers who are in the classroom with them and their peers who are at home on Zoom.

When we are in person, COVID-19 Policies and Procedures will be the same no matter where we are learning. This will help students and teachers remember how to keep themselves and others safe and also support our feeling that we are one K’hillah.

Layered Prevention Strategies 

As recommended by the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics and the Michigan Department of Health, layered prevention strategies will be used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will be adjusted based upon changes in community transmission, vaccination coverage, screening testing and outbreaks and in response to changes in scientific knowledge. 

The most effective prevention strategies are vaccination, masks and physical distancing and the use of these strategies will be the cornerstone of our prevention strategies. Other prevention strategies will be used and will undoubtedly change over time as conditions warrant.


COVID-19 vaccinations are encouraged for all who are eligible and required for employees and for volunteers who work directly with our students.

Vaccination status of students, staff and volunteers will be verified and recorded.


The American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for schools advise that everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. 

  1. INDOORS: All people age 2 and older must be properly masked while indoors (with a mask that covers nose and mouth).
  2. OUTDOORS: All people age 2 and older, who have completed vaccination 14 or more days prior AND are able to maintain physical distance may be unmasked while outdoors. 
  3. Anyone age 2 and older who cannot physical distance must be properly masked whether indoors or out (with a mask that covers nose and mouth).
  4. Even when allowed by policy, written parental permission is required for minors to go maskless. This permission will be collected at registration and can be modified by parents if permission changes.
  5. Medical procedure masks (also known as surgical masks) or cloth masks made of two or three layers of tightly woven fabrics, such as cotton and cotton blends that are breathable are recommended. Scarves, balaclavas, neck gaiters, plastic masks, plastic face shields, chin shields or masks with exhalation valves or vents are not suitable.

Physical Distancing

All people must remain 6 feet away from those not living in their household both indoors and out.


For more information email Nora Chaus at or text or phone at 269-373-4138.You can review the complete Policy & Procedure document here or in the sidebar of the Parent Blog.