Case Study: Covid-19 School Reopening – SAR Schools

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SAR, comprised of SAR Academy and SAR High School, is a private Jewish school in New York City. It serves approximately 1,600 students from across the city, Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey.  

The school believes that every child possesses a divine spark, has unique worth as an individual, and should be encouraged to achieve according to his or her ability. The school values excellence in learning and also seeks to foster the religious, social and emotional growth of each student.

SAR has a robust digital technology program and provides all students in middle school and high school with iPads to promote digital fluency. 

On March 3, 2020, SAR Academy and High School was informed that the parent of a student was hospitalized and diagnosed with Covid-19. The entire school was closed, and all students were instructed to quarantine for two weeks. As the first school in the New York City area to close, SAR was by necessity a trailblazer in the shift to remote teaching.

While the school managed a swift response to the sudden and unprecedented circumstances of the Coronavirus that spring, administrators recognized it was necessary to plan for the fall of 2020.  Accordingly, the school convened a collaborative team of administrators, facility managers, architects, mechanical engineers, graphic designers and medical experts in preparation for the eventual reopening of the school buildings. 

SAR recognizes that much is still unknown about Coronavirus, as well as local and regional health and education authority guidelines for reopening. However, the administration realizes the need to assess building facilities and operations, class schedules and sizes, and other factors in order to craft a flexible plan that will permit the school to open safely in the fall. 

Rabbi Krauss has tasked us with drawing up plans for what we call “radical flexibility,” a return to the school buildings that reflects the day’s concerns, and recognizes that adjustments and improvements will likely be required along the way.

Hila Stern and Esther Sperber

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