A Community Commitment

September 15, 2020

Dear Berman Community, 

Over the last several months, we have all made tremendous sacrifices and compromises to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We’ve limited playdates, cancelled travel and summer plans, and followed the guidelines set forth by our health departments and Rabbinic leadership. Meanwhile, at Berman, we have made significant investments to prepare our campus. We have secured the appropriate sanitization equipment and technology. We have also invested in extra staffing, from teaching to maintenance and nursing. We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish as a community, and the mitigation steps we have taken to get us to this point in time. 

It is tempting to assume that our return to campus means that we can be more relaxed about the virus in our personal lives. However, our return should heighten our diligence and compliance. This is where we need YOU, our entire community, to help us maintain a safe and healthy environment for all of our students, families, and staff. A safe and peaceful return to campus is not solely a school responsibility — it is up to all of us. 

In order to minimize risk for our community, we are asking for your commitment to practice risk mitigation policies outside of school. Risk mitigation practices include:

  • Wearing masks, both indoors and outside, when 6-ft distancing cannot be maintained with people outside of your immediate family;  
  • Physical distancing in group settings and public spaces;
  • Adhering to our daily symptoms check and informing Nurse Miriam Kotek if you, or someone in your family, has Covid-like symptoms, is awaiting test results, or has a positive test;
  • Avoiding areas with current outbreaks, both national and local;
  • Limiting non-essential travel;
  • Following state guidelines for quarantining and testing if traveling to a state with a positivity rate over 10%.

We ask that you please review these practices with all members of your family. During these trying times, we must work together as a community to ensure our safe return. 

Chagim Meals and Travel

We know that the holiday season is usually an opportunity to gather with friends and family. We are asking our Berman community members to please adhere to the following guidelines:

  • We ask that you strongly consider whether you should host out of town guests, especially if they are coming from a high risk area. If you are having out of town guests, please encourage your guests to follow the Maryland travel guidelines and get tested within 72 hours prior to arrival. If you are interacting with individuals outside of your household, masks, physical distancing, and outdoor meals should be utilized. 
  • If you are planning to host or attend a meal with other families, meals should be held outside. It is important to note that a sukkah with walls is not outdoors. We also ask that masks be worn when not eating and at times when physical distancing is not possible.
  • If you are traveling to a state with a Covid-19 test positivity rate above 10%, students and faculty members will not be allowed back on campus until a negative PCR test result is received, or until they quarantine for 14 days from return. If you were exposed to someone with Covid-19 while traveling, you will need to quarantine regardless of a negative test result. We are hoping for our students and staff to return shortly after Sukkot, so please plan travel accordingly.


Weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, and other smachot have the potential to spread the virus at a higher rate. Families should adhere to all risk mitigation protocols at smachot, including physical distancing, mask wearing, serving pre-packaged or individually wrapped food, etc. In addition to the State and County guidelines, we ask that families host their events outside, to the extent possible. When and where possible, we encourage you to continue hosting events over zoom or as a “drive-by,” as these have become an accepted norm during this time.

Even with all of these efforts, we know it is highly likely that Covid cases will show up within our community. It is critical that we act swiftly and effectively when symptoms arise. Last week, when a kindergarten teacher woke up with a symptom, we put our protocols into practice. We alerted the Department of Health who instructed us to close these two sections while we await test results. The kindergarten sections were notified and started the week with virtual learning. We would like to offer our gratitude to those who step forward and alert our school when they, or someone in their family, has symptoms, tests positive, or has been exposed. This act helps safeguard our community and should be lauded. 

We hope that our combined efforts help lead to a safe and long-term return to our campus. Please see below for information on our upcoming Town Halls and important action items each family must take. If you have any questions, please reach out directly at kastany@mjbha.org.


Rabbi Dr. Yossi Kastan
Head of School