Shuva B’Shalva Update-September 4, 2020

September 4, 2020

Dear Berman Community, 

It has been a wonderful week of learning both virtually and in our classrooms. We are tremendously grateful to our team of administrators, faculty, and staff for creating innovative learning environments, and to our parents for working with their children through this first week. Once again, our students met new challenges with unmatched resiliency and we are so proud of them. 

In July, we shared our Shuva B’Shalva Blueprint for a safe return to our beloved Berman campus, and we are thrilled that our Preschool and Kindergarten students began learning in-person this week. We maintain our commitment for a full student-body return, and we have been working with our medical task force to analyze our State and County metrics.

On August 28, Governor Larry Hogan shared the state guidelines that jurisdictions with a positivity rate below 5% and a case rate of anywhere between 5-15 per 100,000 people should be able to hold in-person classes and/or activities, either fully in-person or in a hybrid model, with risk mitigation factors in place. Currently, Montgomery County has a 3.4% positivity rate and a 7-day average of 7.4 cases per 100,000 people. 

Under the guidance of our medical task force, and the State Covid-19 metrics for reopening schools, we believe that it is safe to begin a return to campus with the models and plans we have in place. Our plan is to continue our return to campus after the Chagim, starting on October 13th. Grades 1-12 will continue learning through Berman@Home2.0 for the month of September. This provides stability for our students and staff, while also allowing time for our teachers to make final preparations to their in-person classrooms.

As Maryland moves into phase 3 and more local businesses and schools begin to open, we will continue to monitor these data trends to ensure conditions are still safe for opening. We will not move forward with our reopening plan if the positivity rate goes above 5% and/or cases per 100,000 goes above 10. Additionally, the 5% positivity rate and 10 cases per 100,000 people will serve as our thresholds as we make school opening and closure decisions throughout the year.  

Reopening Timeline

We will stagger our return to campus over three weeks in October. This will allow our faculty, staff, students, and parents time to get comfortable with our new protocols and procedures, and will maximize the health and safety of all of our students and staff. We will return to campus with the following model:

Lower School / Middle School 

  • Tuesday, October 13th – Grades 1-2, 6 return to campus; other grades continue Berman@Home2.0
  • Thursday, October 15th – Grades 3-5, 7-8 return to campus; Upper School continues Berman@Home2.0

Upper School

Our Upper School will begin their weekly orange (grades 9, 11) / blue (grades 10, 12) rotation with two grades learning on campus and two grades learning at home the week of October 19. 

  • Monday, October 19th – Blue Group (grades 10 and 12) return to campus, Orange Group (grades 9 and 11) at home
  • Monday, October 26th – Orange Group (grades 9 and 11) return to campus, Blue Group (grades 10 and 12) at home (11th graders will be taking the PSATs on campus on Thursday, October 29)

We will update the parent/student Google Calendars with the weekly rotation. 

Next Steps

We will be hosting parent Town Halls in late September and October to review our plans for each division. Please see below for important parent dates:


  • Tuesday, September 15: Preschool Back to School Night (more details soon)
  • Friday, September 18: School Closed, Erev Rosh Hashanah
  • Monday, September 21: 3:30 pm Dismissal, Tzom Gedalia
  • Tuesday, September 22: Lower School Back to School Night (more details soon)
  • Wednesday, September 23: Middle School Back to School Night (more details soon)
  • Thursday, September 24: Upper School Back to School Night (more details soon)
  • Monday, September 28: School Closed, Yom Kippur
  • Tuesday, September 29, 8:00 pm: Lower School/Middle School Shuva B’Shalva Town Hall (Zoom Link)


  • Friday, October 2-Sunday, October 11: School Closed, Sukkot Break
  • Tuesday, October 13: Grades 1-2, 6 return to campus
  • Thursday, October 15: Grades 3-5, 7-8 return to campus
  • Wednesday, October 14, 8:00 pm: Upper School Shuva B’Shalva Town Hall (Zoom Link)
  • Monday, October 19: Blue Group (grades 10 and 12) return to campus, Orange Group (grades 9 and 11) at home
  • Monday, October 26: Orange Group (grades 9 and 11) return to campus, Blue Group (grades 10 and 12) at home

Our Virtual Back to School Nights will be designed for parents to have a chance to meet their child(ren)’s teachers. Our Town Hall sessions will be designed to provide parents with detailed information about the return to campus.

As always, our hope is that students will be able to join us for in-person learning. We have added technology to our classrooms for students or families who have a medical consideration that requires their children to stay home and learn virtually during this school year. If you have not already shared your intentions to learn virtually, we ask that you complete this survey by Tuesday, September 15. If you have previously shared that you prefer virtual learning, but would like for your child to return to campus, please let us know asap so that we can plan accordingly. 

Travel Advisory Reminder

We strongly value hachnasat orchim and understand the importance of being with family and friends over the chagim. However, at this time, we also want to stress the importance of adhering to Maryland’s travel advisory. Granted, there is no way for us to know everyone’s travel plans. In the spirit of kehilla, we ask that you inform us if you are traveling to a state with a positivity rate above 10%, or have out of town guests traveling from one of those states. The health and safety of our staff, students, and families is a communal responsibility.

Please note these key points from the Maryland travel advisory:

  • Any Marylander returning from out-of-state or any out-of-state traveler should either get tested for COVID-19 promptly upon arrival in Maryland or within 72 hours before travel to Maryland.
  • Out-of-state visitors should be tested within 72 hours prior to arrival and should cancel travel if they receive a positive result. Visitors waiting for their test results should stay at home between the time of their test and their arrival in Maryland or should self-quarantine at their hotel.
  • Any Marylander who travels to a state with a COVID-19 test positivity rate above 10% should get tested and self-quarantine at home until the test result is received. The District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia are exempt from this recommendation.

If a student or faculty member travels to a state with a COVID-19 test positivity rate above 10%, they will not be allowed back on campus until a negative test result is received, or until they quarantine at home for 10 school days. If a student or staff member hosts guests that do not follow the “out-of-state” guidelines listed above, the student or staff member will be asked to produce a negative covid test result after the guests have left the student’s or staff member’s home. Please plan accordingly. 
We look forward to continuing learning with your children this month and sharing more of our plans soon. If you have any questions, please reach out to me directly at kastany@mjbha.org

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Dr. Yossi Kastan
Head of School