Road Back to GOA

Fall 2020 Reopening Plan

We are planning for our return to school in the fall. Specifics and plans for what that will ultimately look like are underway and more will be shared in the coming weeks and months. Please continue to visit this webpage as it will serve as a valuable communication tool that will be updated with additional specificity throughout the summer. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that we are delivering on our promise of an excellent Golda Och Academy education and we are confident that will be the case in 2020-21 and beyond.

Reopening Plan for 2020-21 Academic Year

List of 2 items.

  • COVID-19 Testing: Strategic Partnership with PM Pediatrics

    Dear Golda Och Academy Community,
    We are pleased to inform you that as of today we have entered into a strategic partnership with the medical professionals at PM Pediatrics on behalf of our school and community. 
    What does this mean for our GOA students, faculty and staff? 
    First and foremost, PM Pediatrics will be assisting us with COVID-19 testing for any student, faculty or staff member who wishes to visit either their Livingston or Springfield locations. The testing process at PM Pediatrics is covered by insurance and consists of a virtual telehealth visit followed by the scheduling of an appointment at one of their locations. Based on interest following signups through their web portal (all instructions regarding scheduling and testing can be found below), they will be opening their locations at specifically designated hours just for our GOA community in order to fully expedite this process in advance of the school year. This rapid antigen testing will enable those being tested to receive results on the same day that the test is taken. For students who are tested at PM Pediatrics, a special form can be completed during the visit which will allow their team to send results directly to our school nurses. 
    Additionally, this strategic partnership will provide us with access to the PM Pediatrics medical team throughout the school year both for consultation and for rapid COVID-19 testing should we require it. Simply put, if someone is showing signs of illness during the school year they can be immediately referred to PM Pediatrics by either Nurse Roberta or Nurse Ilena. Our community will receive timely service and we will be able to address any and all potential health issues immediately. While there is a tremendous amount that’s still unknown about COVID-19, we do understand that the sooner we receive information that we can act on, the safer that we can keep our entire GOA community.
    For those students, faculty or staff who have already scheduled COVID-19 testing elsewhere, there is no need to change those arrangements. The opportunity to be tested at PM Pediatrics is still very much your choice and so long as you are doing PCR or antigen testing, you can do it anywhere that testing is administered.
    Please note that testing is only valid if done within 14 days of your first day back on campus (for students that is September 8 when we will be holding lice checks; and for faculty that date coincides with the first professional development day on September 2).
    As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to Nurse Roberta (Lower School) or Nurse Ilena (Upper School) should you have any additional questions. 
    In partnership,
    Adam Shapiro
    Head of School  

    PM Pediatrics COVID-19 Testing for Golda Och Academy

    Faculty/Staff Virtual Telehealth Visits
    August 19-21
    Faculty/Staff Covid-19 Testing
    August 25 • 9 am - 12 pm (Livingston)
    August 26 • 9 am - 12 pm (Springfield)
    August 27 • 9 am - 12 pm (Livingston)
    Student Virtual Telehealth Visits
    August 25-27
    Student Covid-19 Testing
    September 2 • 9 am - 12 pm (Livingston)
    September 3 • 9 am - 12 pm (Springfield)
    September 4 • 9 am - 12 pm (Livingston)
    Please note: PM Pediatrics will also be able to accommodate patients during their normal operating hours, (12p-10p in Livingston or 12p-12a in Springfield or any of their other NJ locations). Please understand that this is within their regular operating hours and there may be unforeseen clinical delays that may create a wait.
    PM Pediatrics of Livingston
    571 West Mt. Pleasant Avenue (Rt. 10)
    Livingston, NJ 07039
    Phone: 973.992.4767
    PM Pediatrics of Springfield
    355 Route 22 East
    Springfield, NJ 07081
    Phone: 973.467.2767

    Virtual Telehealth Screening
    Through their telehealth platform, PM Pediatrics Anywhere, faculty, staff and students (or parents for children under 18) will sign up for a virtual evaluation with a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The visit usually takes about 5-10 minutes per individual and includes a virtual examination and assessment. The virtual visit is requested via their website, Detailed instructions for account registration are included on the website for both laptop/desktop and phone (via downloadable app).  
    Once in the portal the individual will be asked to create an account. Account holders must be 18 years or older. For children under 18, a parent must sign up and create an account for themselves and then request a visit for their child. Alternatively, a parent may sign up for the entire family, request a visit for a family member older than 18 and send a link for that family member to complete the actual visit.
    Once account registration is completed, the account holder will “request a visit” for the individual being seen. The individual should be prepared to enter all key medical information and data, health insurance, and a credit card information for billing purposes. 
    Please note: a claim will be submitted to the patient’s primary insurance and any patient responsibility determined by the insurance company will be billed to the credit card entered after the claim is processed. Patients who are uninsured will be billed a flat fee of $65 for the virtual visit and $35 for the Rapid Antigen test. As the patient responsibility is determined by the individual insurance plan, we advise reaching out to your plan’s customer service department to learn more about specific coverage.
    Once the account is set up and a visit requested, the patient will be evaluated by a PM Pediatrics telehealth provider. The virtual visit will take approximately 5-10 minutes to complete. The patient must be physically present at the time of the visit request to ensure proper virtual exam and assessment by the provider.
    Once the virtual visit is complete, a scheduling assistant will call the family within 24 hours to select a location and time slot for onsite testing. When they call, please be sure to remind them that you are part of the Golda Och Academy community.
    Testing at PM Pediatrics
    Upon arrival to location and the parking lot:
    • The patient will call the facility and notify the staff they are waiting in the car.
    • The PM Pediatrics team will then pull all necessary paperwork for the testing and provide the family with guidance on their testing/collection procedures and distancing protocols.
    • The total time in-office should be less than 10-15 minutes. Once testing is completed, the family will leave, and results will be emailed to them by the end of the business day. Anticipatory guidance will be provided on interpretation of results and anyone who has a positive result will be notified by phone for further discussion and guidance in accordance with CDC guidelines.
    All results will be sent to the school nurses at Golda Och Academy at the end of each day. Please also note that as per state reporting guidelines, all results will also be provided to the NJ Department of Health.

  • On-Campus/Remote & Back to School Orientations and Technology Trainings

    Choosing Between On-Campus and Remote Instruction
    Every family must log into the website and complete the form (for each student in your family) to let us know if your child(ren) will be learning on-campus or remotely to start the school year. Upon logging in, you will be prompted to complete outstanding forms. Forms must be completed no later than Friday, August 21.

    Back to School Orientations and Technology Trainings – Save the Dates

    Zoom links will follow in a separate email blast a day before the orientation. If you are unable to attend, recordings and resources will be made available after each session. 
    Early Childhood (Pre-K and Gan)
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Training (parents only)
    Wednesday, August 26
    10-11 am

    Students will have the opportunity to meet their teachers prior to the start of school. Scheduling information will be sent to each individual family.
    Grades 1-3
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Training — Seesaw and SchoolPass (parents only)
    Thursday, August 27
    2-3 pm

    Students will be oriented on daily procedures and policies upon their return to school.
    Grades 4-5
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Training — Google Classroom and SchoolPass (parents only)
    Friday, August 28
    10-11 am

    Students will be oriented on daily procedures and policies upon their return to school.
    Grade 6
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Overview for Parents and Students
    Tuesday, September 1
    2-3 pm
    Grades 7-8
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Overview for Parents and Students
    Thursday, August 27
    10-11 am

    Grades 9-11
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Overview for Parents and Students
    Monday, August 31
    10-11 am

    Grade 12
    Back To School Orientation and Technology Overview for Parents and Students
    Tuesday, September 1
    12-1 pm
    All New Upper School Students (Grades 6-12)
    Welcome to GOA Orientation
    Dates/times for grade specific orientations will be sent directly to new students by our Guidance Department.

Health & Safety Protocol Videos

    • Health & Safety: Building Entry Protocol

Reopening FAQs

List of 15 frequently asked questions.

  • Are face masks with valves and vents allowed?

    The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material.  This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, the CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.
  • Governor Murphy continues to update the Travel Advisory list of states that require a 14-day quarantine upon returning to NJ. What should we do if we are planning a trip/visit to one of these states?

    We ask that all families visit the NJ Travel Advisory site (which is updated regularly) to learn more about the states that are currently part of the Travel Advisory list. As a kehillah(community) that looks out for the health and well-being of our fellow families, we ask that everyone in our GOA community take this advisory seriously. If you are traveling to one of these states, please plan to return to New Jersey no later than August 24 to ensure that you are in compliance with this order. Students and faculty will not be permitted to physically return to school prior to the end of a mandatory quarantine period. Please note that this will be true prior to school starting and throughout the school year (so long as the Travel Advisory list is in effect).
  • In the past there has been a PA-run lunch program in the Lower School and a lunch ordering system which allowed students to order from local kosher vendors in the Upper School, will these lunch programs be happening in school this year?

    Given the many challenges that exist when it comes to food services, we will be suspending our school lunch program — on both campuses — for the start of the school year. While we anticipate this will remain in effect for the majority of the school year, our team will revisit this decision - and will continue to work closely with our Parents Association — once the school year gets under way. All students will be required to bring their own dairy or pareve brown bag lunch in accordance with our school’s kashrut policy (which can be found in our Student Handbook). All packed lunches and snacks should be nut-free.
  • Has a final decision been made regarding the Online Learning Platforms and video conferencing software that will be used for the 2020-21 school year?

    Following extensive research and work by our educational technology team, the following online learning platforms will be used during the 2020-2021 school year: 
    • Students in grades Pre-K through 3rd will be using Seesaw.
    • We have upgraded our school to the Zoom Enterprise platform which means that all virtual meetings, hybrid classes and other programs throughout the school year will be broadcast using Zoom. 
    We appreciate the importance of training all students and parents on these platforms and will be sharing more information on when that training will take place. Meanwhile, our faculty is already participating in professional development focused on this technology in order to ensure a smooth and positive experience for everyone.
  • Recognizing that the goal is to return to school for on-campus instruction beginning on September 9, is it possible to safely and responsibly fit all of our students into our two buildings?

     Our team has completed an extensive space analysis and, yes, we all can fit. In order to do so, we are being creative with our space usage. This means repurposing some of our larger spaces and utilizing outdoor spaces under tents and on our fields. Additionally, some protective barriers have already been installed — using plexiglass and other materials — in order to ensure that classrooms, offices and other spaces are as safe as possible.  
  • Will we be implementing a hybrid model of instruction where some students are in school and others are at home?

    Yes. We are outfitting all classrooms with the necessary audio/video equipment to successfully implement this model. We are doing this for multiple reasons. First, for those families who may not yet feel comfortable sending their child(ren) back to school, we want to ensure that all students have the ability to access instruction from their teachers. (If you have not yet had a chance to complete the survey from Mr. Shapiro’s last update, you can find it by clicking here). Second, in the case where a student(s) may have been exposed to COVID and require a mandatory quarantine, having this system in place enables learning to continue.
  • What hygiene/sanitation procedures will be in place? Do we have enough PPE on-hand?

    We are fortunate to have a large supply of PPE, disinfecting products, sanitizers and electrostatic cleaners already on-hand. Additionally, every classroom and large space on both campuses will be outfitted with HEPA air purifiers (Golda Och Academy Receives Grant from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ). We are also in the process of developing and finalizing extensive new cleaning protocols that will be in effect all day on each campus.
  • Will Aftercare and Funtracks be happening in the Lower School this year?

    Ms. Jul McCormick-Anesh sent out a letter and survey to our Lower School families last week regarding Aftercare and Funtracks for the coming school year. In order to ensure the safety of all students and faculty involved, we will be making changes to these programs this year. To learn more and to respond to the survey - to provide input and express interest in these programs — please click here to complete the survey by Monday, August 3 at 11 am.
  • Will we be utilizing outdoor spaces?

    Yes. Through our partnership with local camps and vendors we have secured a number of tents to be used on both campuses. It is our goal to use these spaces both for instruction and for lunch/snack time. We also recognize that this is a very weather-dependent solution and we are still in the process of investigating what this may look like when the weather changes in a few months.
  • What health protocols will be in place this year?

    Our Health and Safety team — which is being led by our school nurses, Nurse Ilena Kasdan and Nurse Roberta Coopersmith — have been meeting regularly, working closely with their colleagues from other NJAIS schools, combing through all of the guidance from the State, CDC and the AAP in order to finalize all of our health protocols/procedures for the coming year. Additionally, we are fortunate to have Dr. Jeffrey Saperstein (school parent, alumni parent and pediatrician) on board to consult with our team on the policies being put in place. While plans are still being finalized, we do know that all students and faculty will complete a daily health screening — both through an app and upon their arrival to school. There will also be updated policies in place for what happens when a student/teacher become sick during the day, which rooms on each campus will be reserved as isolation spaces in these cases, along with guidance on how long a student/teacher will have to remain out of school should they be ill — whether with COVID or any other illness. 
  • How can parents/students best prepare for our students to be wearing masks all day?

    Our policy will require that all students, faculty and staff be wearing masks all day while on campus. During lunch and snack times, students will have the opportunity to remove their masks and will be properly socially distanced at all times while they are removed. Our school will not be providing masks (except in case of emergency if something happens to a child’s mask) as finding ones that fit your child(ren) properly is incredibly important. All families should begin working on mask-training this summer in order that students are comfortable and ready for the start of the school year.
    Here are some tips for mask-training from the CDC:
    • Let your child(ren) pick out the ones they like.
    • Teach them to wear their mask properly (ensuring that nose, mouth and chin are covered along with regular cleaning).
    • Adults should model the importance of mask-wearing for their children.
    • Create a plan to build up stamina in your children by having them wear a mask for an increased amount of time each day.
    • Make it fun -- this helps to make mask-wearing normal and not a scary or abnormal practice.
  • Given the different considerations and procedures that will be in effect this year, what will a school day look like under the different scenarios. 

    Our teams on both campuses are still in the process of finalizing all of our new daily procedures and will outline them further in our Reopening Policy Handbook, which will be made available in early August. As it relates to the daily schedule, some things will be consistent throughout our entire institution and others will be division and grade-level specific. The length of the day is projected to remain the same at this time, though we are currently exploring whether staggered arrival and/or dismissal may be helpful. More information on those procedures will be forthcoming. Additionally, we expect that while on campus, students will be more limited in terms of their movement throughout the buildings. 
    • In the Lower School, students will primarily remain in 1-2 classrooms each day. However, we will also use additional spaces for break out groups, individual support, and larger meetings (appropriately physically-distanced). 
    • In the Upper School, we will also be limiting movement between classrooms and a staggered bell schedule will be put in place in order to decrease density in the halls as students and faculty move throughout the day.  
    • On both campuses, we plan to maximize outdoor space — both for classes and lunch/recess — and will share more details in upcoming communications.
    If we find ourselves operating exclusively on a remote schedule, we are committed to a robust, engaging, standardized schedule (Pre-K through 12th) that is implemented from day one. Students and parents will have access to these schedules in advance and the periods of the day will reflect the different modalities of instruction. 
    • Our Lower School education team has created sample schedules that combine live instruction, a blend of live and asynchronous instruction (ie. teachers may begin live or post a short mini lesson, followed by independent or small group work or students may work independently, followed by a group wrap up), specials that may be both live and/or asynchronous, and virtual homework and academic support. To view these sample schedules for grades 1-5, please click here. Please note that these schedules are merely a guide for your reference and are subject to change in the upcoming weeks. Additionally, a more detailed breakdown, by general and Judaic studies, will be provided in advance of the start of the school year. Our team continues to finalize schedules for early childhood grades (Pre-K and Gan) and those will be shared in the coming weeks.
    • Middle School and High School schedules will remain consistent (albeit with some minor changes to class timing). Student-specific schedules will be completed — for both on-campus and remote instruction — in the coming weeks and will be shared with students when they are finalized.
  • Has GOA received any information from NJSIAA regarding the fall season of Varsity athletics?

    Our Athletic Director, Mr. Dennis Kozar, has been in close touch with the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) regarding the upcoming fall sports season. While there is much that’s still undecided, the plan that they’ve released to-date calls for high school fall sports (Boys and Girls Soccer, Girls Volleyball, Girls Tennis, Co-Ed Cross Country) to begin with preseason practices in late August (HS athletes will receive more information from Mr. Kozar) and competition beginning during the first week of October and lasting for six weeks. While we have not yet made a final decision on our school’s participation, we want to know what the parents of our fall student-athletes are thinking. For those who have played in the past or are thinking about it for this year, please complete this brief survey.
  • Will there be Middle School athletics this fall?

    Mr. Kozar is currently in discussion with the Athletic Directors from other schools to determine the path forward for our Middle School sports teams for the fall. While many schools that we compete against have already determined that they will not be participating in team sports this fall, we are still doing our due diligence and will be back in touch with our Middle School families once we have more to share. Should we not be able to participate in team sports, Mr. Kozar and his team are already working on plans for our middle school student-athletes to continue their athletic pursuits here in school.
  • Will my child need access to a device/technology this year?

    Yes. Given that we will be implementing these new technology platforms, it is important that all students have access to a device this year. Recognizing that all platforms and programs we will be using are web-based, we are not requiring any specific piece of technology. Additional guidance will be forthcoming from our educational technology team and campus principals as the use of technology will look different depending on the age(s) of your child(ren).