Covid-19 Update – August 27, 2021

August 31, 2021

Dear Berman Community, 

As we gear up to welcome our students back to campus next week, I wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate our Covid-19 policies for the start of our school year. Updated policies are always listed on our website, and you can also access our Covid-19 dashboard (password: Cougars5781) for a quick snapshot of cases impacting our Berman community.

Medical Task Force

Our Medical Task Force is made up of lay leaders Dr. Benjamin Berkowitz, Dr. Michele Klein, Dr. Jenny Offer, Dr. Ronald Reisler, Dr. Neil Siegel, and Tamar Zakheim, PA-C, and Berman professionals Shmarya Gasner, Lianne Heller, Rabbi Dr. Yossi Kastan, Miriam Kotek, and Sarah Sicherman. We meet weekly and communicate daily to reevaluate and update our policies as needed.  

Berman Point of Contact

Our School Nurse, Miriam Kotek, serves as the main point of contact for Covid related matters. She can be reached at kotekm@mjbha.org or 301-962-9400 x711. 


Anyone with Covid symptoms with or without a known exposure must stay home. Symptoms include: At least one of the following: fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, new onset cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or new loss of taste or sense of smell, OR at least two of the following: chills, muscle aches, sore throat, headache, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and congestion or runny nose. For those with chronic conditions, any symptoms that are  a significant change from normal baseline should prompt a student to stay at home. Anyone with a known or suspected Covid exposure, regardless of vaccination status, must contact Nurse Miriam Kotek before returning to school.

If a student begins to experience Covid-like symptoms during the school day, they will immediately be separated from other students and sent to Nurse Miram Kotek to determine appropriate next steps.

*A household member is considered anyone who spends significant time in your house (around Berman students/faculty). This includes nannies, housekeepers, other caregivers, or indoor Shabbat guests.

Positive Cases and Quarantine

We will follow this updated Decision Tree aid in the event of positive cases. Please note, there are many factors that go into making these decisions and while the Decision Tree will serve as our guide, there may be circumstances in which we require additional information from families before determining the outcome. 

The CDC recently shared an update for K-12 indoor classroom settings, indicating the close contact definition excludes students who were within 3 to 6 feet of an infected student if both the infected student and the exposed (student(s) correctly and consistently wore well fitting masks the entire time. At this time, we have decided not to adopt this exception in our school quarantine guidelines. We will continue to reevaluate with our Medical Task Force.  

Face Coverings

As per our State and County health and safety guidelines, all students and all staff members must wear a mask at all times indoors, unless they are in a room alone. Masks must be worn outdoors if it is not possible to be at least 6 feet away from others. Gaiters and masks with external valves are not permitted. 

Please send extra masks in your child’s backpack, as well as a box of disposable masks to store in their lockers.

Covid-19 Vaccine

All staff, and all students ages twelve and up are required to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 by October 1, 2021. Parents must upload their card to the Parent Portal. If your child has already received their vaccine, we ask that you upload the card before the start of the school year so we can plan accordingly. 

Flu Vaccine

All students and staff will be required to receive a flu vaccine this year. We will share a timeline once this year’s vaccine is released. 

Physical Distancing

Our classrooms are set up with 3 ft distance between students. Unvaccinated students will eat with 6 ft distance between them. Vaccinated students will be able to eat without distance. 


This year, our Preschool, Lower, and Middle School will have grade level pods during the academic day. At times, grade levels come together for programs with risk mitigation factors (masking, distancing) in place. 

Our Upper School students will have classes and other programs together. Masking and distancing will be in place, except when eating. At this time, we have received confirmation that 92% of our Upper School student body, and 100% of our faculty are vaccinated. By October 1, our Upper School will be a 100% vaccinated “community.” We are reaching out to the families who have not yet submitted their vaccination cards and will take necessary steps and precautions to ensure the safety of our community.

After School Programming

Students from various grades join together for after care, homework hour, after school activities, and athletics. Students will be masked at all times during these programs, but there may be times when physical distancing is not in place. Should a positive case occur impacting one of these programs, we will utilize contact tracing to assess quarantine scenarios for our students.


Our buses are running at 75% capacity. Students will be required to wear masks while on the bus and we will keep the windows down (weather permitting). Students will only be allowed to sit in seats assigned to them, and many of our routes will have bus aides to assist. Students may not eat or drink on the bus. 

If your family is carpooling this year, all passengers should wear a mask, and weather permitting, keep the windows down. If a member of the carpool has Covid, or Covid-like symptoms, the entire carpool may need to quarantine while we await test results. Please contact Nurse Miriam Kotek for guidance. 

Travel Policies

Our school travel guidelines are based on behaviors rather than location. Families should utilize the same risk mitigations while traveling that they do at home (masking indoors, avoiding large crowds, avoiding indoor dining, etc.). If your family had a Covid-exposure, or participated in a high risk activity (large gatherings with no Covid precautions in place, sleepovers with unvaccinated people, etc.), please contact Nurse Miriam Kotek before returning to school. 

In addition, students and faculty members must follow any current state or national guidelines for travel, both nationally and internationally. 

Smachot Policies

We ask that you follow any current school guidelines when planning or attending smachot. This includes indoor masking and eating outdoors or distanced if you are not vaccinated.


Last year, we were fortunate to have a successful school year with minimal Covid interruptions. Much of that was due to the risk mitigation factors we had in school, as well as the commitment from all of our families to practice safe mitigations outside of school as well. We appreciate your partnership as we navigate this year to create a healthy and safe environment for our Berman community. Please reach out if you have any questions. 


Rabbi Dr. Yossi Kastan
Head of School