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Youth Education COVID-19 Policies

Updated 9/1/21

The health and safety of our community is our utmost concern. The Jewish value to preserve human life, pikuach nefesh, stands above all other educational and social goals for our Youth Education students. As we return to campus, we are aware that the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a reality. In partnership with Beth Am’s Reopening Committee, we are setting and implementing policies that are consistent with the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance for K-12 Schools, as well as guidance from Santa Clara County and guidelines from local school districts. 

As case numbers, guidance, and scientific evidence continue to evolve, we will continue to update the policies below, as needed, and communicate them to you.

As of September 1, 2021, we will implement the following policies in our Youth Education Programs:

Vaccination Requirements

We are privileged to live in a community that is following the advice of public health experts when it comes to keeping our kids and families safe. According to Santa Clara County, Palo Alto / Los Altos has over a 99% vaccination rate (at least one dose) for residents ages 12-17. 

Vaccination remains the best and most effective tool in preventing COVID-19, including the Delta variant, and lessening symptoms associated with infection. In accordance with Beth Am’s most updated policies (8/27/21), any person who is eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must be fully vaccinated in order to attend Beth Am programming in person. This means that:

  • All staff, teachers, and madrichim are required to be vaccinated in order to work in our Youth Education Programs.

  • We ask that any adult family members/guardians who come to campus during Youth Education Programs (for drop-off/pick-up, Family Education programs, our Chavurah program, etc.) be fully vaccinated.

  • Students who are 12 years of age or older must be vaccinated in order to enroll in Youth Education programs. As 12-year-olds become eligible for the vaccine, they will have 3 months after their birthday to complete the vaccination process. 

In order to ensure the safety of our community, we also ask that eligible household members of unvaccinated children be vaccinated, whether or not they plan to attend programming on campus.

We understand that students age 11 and under are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. We will update our policies as vaccination becomes available to younger students.

Masking

In compliance with Santa Clara County’s indoor face covering order, all staff, teachers, madrichim, and students will be required to wear a face covering that properly covers their nose and mouth while indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

We are following the decisions of local school districts to add outdoor masking as an additional layer of protection. Students who need a break from masking outdoors may remove their mask if they are not within six feet of another person. This common-sense approach will allow students to get fresh air without creating health concerns for others.

The Education Team may make exceptions for small group gatherings of fully vaccinated teens or adults held outdoors, in which case masking could be optional. We will always support those whose personal or family decisions are to continue masking outdoors.

California Health Department exemptions for facing coverings apply: persons younger than two years old; persons with a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a mask; persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

Physical Distancing

Recent evidence indicates that in-person instruction can occur safely without minimum physical distancing requirements when other mitigation strategies (e.g., masking) are implemented. This is consistent with CDC K-12 School Guidance. Program enrollment is such that we will be able to safely space out within classrooms, but may not allow for exactly 3 feet of distance between students at all times during their day.

We have modified our pick up procedures to minimize the need for adults to come onto campus. In order to lessen crowding, there will now be two separate pick up spots by grade, and teachers will be asked to accompany their students to the pick up for additional supervision.

Ventilation

As advised, in spaces where it was possible, we upgraded our air filtration systems to MERV 13 filters, as of April 2021. Indoor classes will also be advised to leave windows and doors open, when possible, to increase air circulation through the classrooms.

Outdoor Programming

In order to mitigate risks around large group indoor gatherings, we will be moving our weekly Youth Education t’filah sessions to our Outdoor Chapel until advised otherwise. Students will sit with their designated classes at t’filah.

All events in which food is served will also take place outdoors, and students will be asked to eat the snacks they bring from home outdoors.

In the case of poor air quality or inclement weather, these events may need to move indoors. In these cases, we will ask participants to socially distance. Family members will be asked not to join us for t’filah if it is indoors.

We are encouraging our teachers to utilize Beth Am’s outdoor spaces as an outdoor classroom for many activities throughout the day.

Food Service

We have been advised that given the very low risk of transmission from surfaces and shared objects, there is no need to limit food service to single use items and packaged meals. We will ask adult volunteers, staff, or parents to serve children during any buffet-style food events and require that children be masked when they are getting their food.

Staying Home when Sick or Symptomatic

We ask that our community be prudent in screening for symptoms: fever, cough, and loss of smell/taste. If anyone in your household experiences any new or unexplained symptoms, please remain at home and get tested

News reports based on a recent study suggest that some of the most common symptoms associated with the Delta variant are similar to cold and allergy symptoms. Accordingly, please be extra cautious during this time by keeping your children home if they have the sniffles. We plan to be extremely flexible on our 80% attendance policy this year, so that families feel no obligation to attend if students are not feeling well. We will follow state guidance that requires symptomatic youth or staff to be separated from others and sent home immediately.

We are also developing a robust substitute list so that our teachers may feel comfortable staying home if they have even minimal symptoms.

Testing after Travel

Those who choose to travel during this time are encouraged to follow CDC guidelines on travel. We recommend students receive a negative PCR test after travel before participating in Youth Education Programs.

In Case of Exposure

In the event a student who is enrolled in our Youth Education Programs tests positive, we will follow the CDC, California Department of Public Health, and Santa Clara County guidance on quarantining and testing, in addition to consulting public health experts in our community who have been advising us throughout the pandemic. We will communicate with families whose children may have had contact with any positive cases and advise as to the exact course of action.

Please let us know immediately if a child who has attended our Youth Education Programs has tested positive.

Cleaning

All spaces at Beth Am are cleaned and disinfected by our facilities team regularly. 

Hand Hygiene

Hand sanitizer will be available in every classroom and learning space on campus, and teachers and madrichim will reinforce washing hands, avoiding contact with one's eyes, nose, and mouth, and covering coughs and sneezes, and promote hand washing throughout the day, especially before and after eating.

Hybrid/Online Programming

We do not have the capacity to offer a blended-learning style program without hindering our ability to provide the best learning experiences and achieve our social-emotional goals. Our priority is in-person learning. If circumstances are deemed unsafe for in-person learning, we will respond as needed.

If you have additional concerns about attending in-person programming, please reach out to our Education Team.

Tue, September 21 2021 15 Tishrei 5782