5781 (2020-2021) Religious School Re-opening: Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ will be updated frequently as we prepare to re-open religious school in September.


July 10, 2020

Shalom Religious School Families,

I am writing to share an overview of our plans to re-open religious school in September.  This is one of several communications that we will send over the next few weeks that will address many re-opening details, including health protocols, drop-off/pick-up, among many other topics.  This message and all of our most up-to-date reopening information is in this Religious School Re-opening: Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

The TBO Re-entry Task Force, chaired by former Temple President Keith Barbarosh, will be releasing detailed plans for our Temple community regarding health guidelines, cleaning protocols, movement through building, among many other important safety topics.  I will share those plans and how they will be implemented by our staff soon.

Why is in-person Jewish learning so important, especially now?  We all crave human beings who matter in our lives.  Our alumni will tell you that the emotional relationships created in the classroom between students, teachers and madrichim (teaching assistants) are the most important aspect of their Jewish learning.  Although creating in-person community will be more challenging this year, it has never been more important and we strongly believe our efforts will strengthen your child’s love of being Jewish.

We promise to create the safest and most effective learning environment possible for your child.  Below is an outline of what to expect on Sunday mornings, Monday evenings and for Hebrew learning.

We welcome input from families that, at this juncture, need to consider alternatives to in-school instruction.  As necessary, please contact me as soon as possible to discuss your child and family’s needs.

Religious School registration will open on July 15. PLEASE ENROLL PROMPTLY!  Meeting the enrollment deadline of August 15 is essential to our planning this year and absolutely crucial to our shared success.

To recap: You will receive your per-family registration form by July 15, followed by several other communications that will address re-opening in detail.   This message and all of our most up-to-date reopening information is in this Religious School Re-opening: Frequently Asked Questions webpage.

A famous line from the classic Fiddler on the Roof is Tevya saying to his wife, “It’s a new world, Goldie,” and it certainly is.


Overview of What to Expect

  • We will follow the guidelines provided by the NJ Department of Education’s Restart and Recovery Plan for Education.
  • Several of the larger grades will have to be divided into multiple smaller classes to ensure that teachers and students can adhere to the social-distancing guidelines put forth by the NJ Department of Education.
  • Teachers and students will be required to wear masks.
  • All persons’ temperatures will be scanned upon entering building.
  • Signage will indicate permissible pathways to classrooms.
  • Protocols will be announced for bathroom use, hand washing, and sanitizing stations.
  • Parents’ entrance into building will be highly limited.  We will have a communications protocol to contact the office for major concerns and emergencies while class is in session.
  • Students will bring individual water bottles so fountains need not be used.
  • Rooms and frequently touched areas will be cleaned and disinfected on a rigorous schedule.
  • Parents will confirm (by method to be determined) prior to their child entering the building that the child is in excellent health and may participate in Temple B’nai Or’s religious school; does not have symptoms of COVID-19; has not knowingly had close contact within fourteen days of an individual diagnosed or showing symptoms of COVID-19; and has not been directed to self-isolate or quarantine by their health care provider or a public health official. The honor system is vital to ensure the health of all.

What to Expect on Sunday Mornings for K – Grade 6

  • We will have a combination of indoor, outdoor, in-school and remote learning.
  • If there are grades that require three classes to guarantee smaller class size, one designated class will be virtual every third week. (To clarify, two sessions in-person and one virtual, calendared at beginning of school year.) PROMPT ENROLLMENT is necessary to help us with planning.
  • All students will participate in T’filah (Prayer).  Our current plan is for students and teachers to participate in T’filah virtually in their classrooms with Rabbi and Cantor leading a live service from a central location.

Hebrew Learning for Grades 3-7

  • All Hebrew classes will be virtual.
  • Individualized Skype sessions, for those who choose, will be scheduled by teachers and parents at mutually acceptable times.
  • Small-group Zoom classes for Grades 3-6 will be held on Thursday afternoons 4:30pm – 5:15pm or 5:15pm – 6:00pm.

What to Expect for Grades 7-12 

  • Pre-B’nai-Mitzvah 7th graders will meet with Cantor on Thursdays from 5:30pm – 6:00pm by Zoom for T’filah practice.
  • Grades 7-10 (11th /12th monthly) will be with their assigned teachers on Mondays from 6:30pm – 8:00 pm.
  • Dinners have always been an important and enjoyable social time for our high schoolers and teachers alike.  Food service in Temple is being discussed by the Re-Entry Task Force and we will follow Temple-wide guidelines.
  • Experiential Jewish learning for Grades 6 – 12 exposes teens to Jewish history and worship at museums, other synagogues and on trips to Philadelphia and Washington D.C.  This year, many of these programs will be held virtually and, when possible, at Temple.  As the year progresses, we will plan for opportunities for students to have safe places to meet and learn outside of Temple.