Shuva B’Shalva Blueprint

July 29, 2020

Dear Berman Community,

We hope your summer continues to be relaxing and enjoyable. This week, our administrative team met to discuss our educational models and Shuva B’Shalva for the fall. While there are still five more weeks before the first day of school, we wanted to offer an overview of what the beginning of our school year will look like. Please note that the COVID-19 situation is dynamic. We are continuing to closely monitor the County and State numbers, as well as any changes in regulations, and we may need to reevaluate our approach should the situation change. While this email will offer an overview of our in-person return, you can find the full information in our Shuva B’Shalva Blueprint.

Our safe return to campus is a community partnership, and as such, we will ask our community members to continue to be vigilant with physical distancing and other recommendations by the CDC and local health departments. In addition, we are encouraging all families to limit travel, especially to COVID-19 hotspots, the two weeks before school, and throughout the school year.

We will be hosting a virtual Parent Town Hall on Tuesday, July 28 at 8 pm to discuss our reopening plan. Here is the link to access the meeting. Please read this email thoroughly as there are important steps all families must take.

First Days of School

It is critical that we return to our campus as safely as possible. Although we are working to plan and simulate many new guidelines over the summer, we know that we will have to practice and reinforce many of these new protocols as we transition our students and teachers back to campus.

To that end, we will stagger the return to school over the first week. This will allow our faculty, staff, students, and parents to get comfortable with our new protocols.

Originally, we scheduled Tuesday, September 1 as our first day of school. We are shifting our first day of school one day earlier. The first day of school for all divisions will be Monday, August 31, 2020 according to the schedule below. Friday, September 4 will serve as a teacher professional day and no students will be in the building. We will use the time on Friday to come together as a team and evaluate how the first week of school went and what changes we might need to make. 

The divisions will be returning to campus with the following schedule:

  • Preschool: The first day of school for Preschool will be Monday, August 31 with a Noon dismissal. Tuesday, September 1 will resume a normal full-day schedule.

  • Lower School:

    • Kindergarten-Second grades will return to campus on Monday, August 31.

    • Third-Fifth grades will join on Wednesday, September 2. There will be no virtual learning on Monday, August 31 and Tuesday, September 1 for grades 3-5.

  • Middle School:

    • Sixth grade will return to campus on Monday, August 31.

    • Seventh and Eighth grades will join on Tuesday, September 1. There will be no virtual learning on Monday, August 31 for grades 7-8.

  • Upper School: To best maintain our health and safety guidelines, we will host two Upper School grades on campus at a given time. Our goal (until medical guidelines evolve) is to run a block schedule on a weekly rotation with A/B days. Each week, two grades will be on campus while the other two grades learn virtually. We have invested in new technology systems to allow for this model, and we will begin the weekly rotation once the technology is in place and our teachers have been trained, likely when we return from Sukkot.

    In the meantime, it is extremely important that we bring all students back to campus safely. In an effort for our students to establish in-person connections and community building during the first few weeks of school, we will be running a rotation for each grade on campus one day a week with in-person learning and student activities. To begin the school year, we will offer in-person orientations with the below schedule:

    • Monday, August 31: 9th grade orientation from 9 am to 12 pm

    • Monday, August 31: 10th grade orientation from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

    • Tuesday, September 1: 11th grade orientation from 9 am to 12 pm

    • Tuesday, September 1: 12th grade orientation from 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

A full Upper School calendar for the month of September will be shared directly with Upper School families by Friday, July 31.

Town Halls and Back-to-School Nights

We will host virtual Parent Town Halls with division principals and Rabbi Dr. Kastan on September 14, 15, and 16. These Town Halls will be designed to provide an update on our first two weeks of school. We will also hold virtual Back to School nights on September 22, 23, and 24. We hope to see you at these virtual events. Please note that this is a change in date from our original back to school night schedule so that we can allow enough time for our faculty and staff to get situated back into school with our students.

Educational Models

Each of our divisions has created an educational model focused on the health and safety of our students and the educational integrity of the program. Cohorts have been created to help mitigate risk for our students and faculty. Please see our Blueprint for additional information on the educational models for each division.

K-12 Virtual Learning Option

Our hope is that all students will be able to join us for in-person learning. For those students or families who have a medical consideration that requires their children to stay home during this school year, we will offer the ability to virtually connect to their child’s live classroom. We are investing in technology that will allow students at home to participate in classroom instruction, conversation, and learning. Families that need to exercise this option, need to fill out this survey by July 31, 2020.

We will not be offering a full-time virtual learning experience for our Preschool.

Health and Safety

The health and safety of our community members is of the highest importance as we return to school. We plan to use a multi-layered approach to reducing risk for our students, faculty, and staff. In coordination with our medical task force, risk mitigation items include:

  • Symptoms checks

  • Masks

  • Physical distancing

  • Hand hygiene

  • Sanitization

These measures, applied consistently and conscientiously, will enable our return to focus on our core mission of teaching and learning. Please review our Blueprint for a more detailed look at these items.

Face Masks-Updated Policy

In order to operate, Maryland State Department of Education is requiring cloth face coverings for children ages 2 and up (indoors) when possible. All students in grades K-12 will be required to wear a face mask in the building. Our Preschool students will be required to have a mask each day. We will work with our youngest students for proper usage, but we understand that this may not be developmentally appropriate for all students. Physically distanced mask breaks will be arranged throughout the day.

Arrivals and Dismissals

All divisions will begin their day at 8:15 am (students may start to arrive at 8:00 am.) We will be utilizing divisional entrances to help ease the flow of traffic and will send an updated email once the procedure is in place.

Preschool and Lower School will dismiss at 3:30 pm.

Middle School students will end their academic day at 3:30 pm. After Mincha, there will be an optional supervised study hall between 3:45 – 4:30 pm for all Middle School students. Since there are Middle School students with siblings in Lower School (which dismisses at 3:30 pm) and Upper School (which dismisses at 4:30 pm), this optional study hall will allow us the flexibility to dismiss Middle School students at the same time as their siblings. We are asking all Middle School families to complete this survey to outline their daily dismissal plan. There is limited space for Middle School students on the 3:30 pm bus*, so please provide your responses as soon as possible.

Upper School students will end their academic day at 4:30 pm.

* Middle School Woodside bus riders must take the 3:30 pm route home.


We are pleased to continue offering busing service to our families in the 2020-21 school year. We realize how vital this service is to our community and have made changes that will protect the health and safety of our riders.

Our buses will be operating at a 50% capacity with one child per bench and alternating sides. While on the buses, students will have to wear masks and the windows will be open (weather permitting) to increase ventilation. Siblings are allowed and encouraged to sit together.

All buses will arrive at 8:15 am. We will be offering a 3:30 pm bus for Kemp Mill (PS, LS, limited MS), Woodside (PS, LS and MS) and Potomac (PS, LS, MS), and a 4:30 pm bus for the Kemp Mill and Potomac routes (for MS and US). Middle School families need to submit their dismissal plan by July 31, 2020. We will do our best to accommodate, but please note, there is limited space for Middle School students on the 3:30 pm Kemp Mill route.

Families that have already registered for the bus have until July 31, 2020 to decide if they would like to stay on the bus. On Monday, we will contact all current bus riders to confirm their bus placement. Bus deposits will be refunded until July 31, 2020 for those families opting out of service. If you are interested in signing up for the bus before July 31, 2020, please complete this bus registration form and email it to Executive Director, Shmarya Gasner. Due to bus capacities, we cannot guarantee space for new riders.

School Supplies

Please click here for the school supplies list for each division. We are asking all students to have a supply of cloth and disposable masks, as they will be required on campus. In addition, students in Lower, Middle, and Upper School should have individual hand sanitizers.

While it is still unknown what local and State guidelines will be in September, we feel it is important to share our plan at this time so our families can have as much time to prepare for the Fall as possible. We realize that a long-term school closure is a very real possibility- either in the beginning of the year or at a point in the middle of the year. As such, we have been working on an enhanced virtual learning platform for the event we have a long term closure again.

We appreciate your continued partnership as we navigate this situation. As a reminder, please complete the action items that apply to your family by July 31, 2020.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday at 8 pm. Should you have any questions in the interim, please don’t hesitate to reach out.