December 15, 2020
We now wish to present our final plan for reopening. It is based on the guidance of the Ontario Ministry of Education and has been shared with a number of health professionals in our community who have expressed their approval. All courses must be taken online. You can link to “Torah anytime” and choose your specific lecture and topic. Those few scholars who must take their classes in house must register, and will then be given access to the building and their specific instructional area. Masks and social distance regulations must be adhered to at all times. Only 10 are allowed in one instructional area. Please study the plan below.
We have tried to present the plan in a concise way but with sufficient detail to demonstrate the effort and consideration involved in its design
We hope that this information will enable you to make final decisions on this complex issue.
Kollel Toronto/IAJS – Plan for Reopening, August 2020
- Self-Screening and Suspected COVID-19
All staff members and students must “self-screen” for possible COVID-19 symptoms every day before coming to the Kollel. (A COVID-19 Self-Screen checklist will be provided as an attachment to our school information package.)
Any students or staff members who are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 must seek medical attention which may include getting tested at a COVID-19 assessment centre. (It is a free service; the person being tested should remember to bring his Ontario Health Card.)
Students and staff members must remain at home while waiting for test results and follow the directions of their local health unit. (For our student population, this will either be Toronto Public Health or North York Region Public Health.) They will not be allowed to return to school until they are cleared by the public health officials.
Ministry of Education guidelines require us to report any suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the school to Toronto Public Health and to provide attendance records to assist in case management and contact tracing. Whether additional steps are required (e.g. school closure, quarantining) will be decided by the public health officials.
- Masks, Cohorting, Social Distancing, Cleaning and Hygiene
In order to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmission in schools, the Ministry of Education has established various policies. The Kollel/IAJS will implement these as follows:
- Masks: At this time, Ministry guidelines call for all staff members and students wear masks during the school day. (The only exceptions will be for those who suffer from medical conditions which preclude wearing masks.) Accordingly – until this guidance is withdrawn – Kollel/IAJS will comply with this directive and all students and staff members will wear masks within the Kollel/IAJS building. We will be especially vigilant regarding this where social distancing is impossible as in shared areas (see below). Students will be expected to bring their own masks from home; needless to say, the masks must be consistent with the Kollel/IAJS dress code. (There will be a limited supply available for purchase for students who forget to bring their masks from home.)
- Social Distancing: All students and staff members must practice social distancing of two metres/six feet from one another. To facilitate this, we will be converting our larger spaces (e.g. student library, dining room, Chabura room, and Study Hall) into work stations. This will enable us to place lecturns six feet apart as required. As described below, we will be modifying traffic patterns to avoid crowding at entrances, exits, and in hallways. Also, all food served in the Kollel/IAJS will be in pre-packaged individual containers to prevent crowding during meals.
- Cohorting: Ministry guidelines require that school populations be divided into smaller groups (“cohorts”) which will be isolated from one another. Reducing a person’s number of contacts reduces the likelihood of his encountering an infected individual; thus, the spread of disease is inhibited. As well, cohorting facilitates contact tracing and reduces the likelihood of full-school closures. In Kollel/IAJS, given the relatively small size of our research classes, the entire membership of each research group can be joined into a single cohort. (This is entirely consistent with the Ministry objective of limiting any single student’s contacts to 100 others or less.) Each cohort will function as an independent Kollel/IAJS research station. It will have its own Minyan, Shiurim, Sedarim, and classes. For the duration of the health emergency, there will be no programs within the Kollel/IAJS building involving members of different classes or outside community members.
- Cleaning and Hygiene: The Kollel/IAJS has reviewed its cleaning protocols and has arranged for more frequent cleaning of our facility. Special attention will be devoted to “high-touch surfaces” such as doorknobs and light switches, bathrooms, as well as shared spaces to be cleaned and disinfected between uses. The Kollel/IAJS has purchased supplies of alcohol based hand sanitizers to be placed at entrances and throughout the school and students will be reminded by appropriate signage to engage in proper hand-hygiene. (Information on hand-hygiene will be provided as an attachment to our school information package.)
- Configuration of the Kollel/IAJS Building
In order to facilitate the mandates of cohorting and social distancing, the Kollel/IAJS building will be reconfigured and various areas will be categorized by their designated uses:
- Cohort Spaces: These areas will be assigned for the exclusive use of a single cohort (e.g. classrooms).
- Common Spaces: These areas will be unavoidably used by all students (e.g. hallways and lavatories).
- Shared Spaces: These areas will be used at different times by different cohorts (e.g. Bais Medrash and Otzar), and will cleaned and disinfected between uses.
Appropriate signage will be put up to direct traffic patterns and reduce the possibility of crowding.
Each cohort’s Tefillos, Shiurim, classes will generally take place in its assigned space. Within the space, social distancing must be maintained at all times.
- Bais Medrash/Main Study Hall
- Bais Medrash/Secondary study hall
- Otzar Seforim/Ladies Section
- Dining Room Classroom i
- Kitchen Classroom 2
- Computer/Board Room 3
Within the cohort space, each student will be assigned a lecturn for his exclusive use and will be provided with a storage cubby for personal belongings (e.g. Seforim, books, and Tallis). There will be a refrigerator for storing food brought for breakfast and lunch; students should be careful to avoid close contact when accessing this refrigerator or when taking a coffee break. To avoid crowding upon entering and exiting the building, different doorways will be assigned for entering and exiting:
*Because of security concerns, only doors with special combination locks can be used for entrance.
Hallways and lavatories will be unavoidably shared. Students are urged to avoid close contact in these spaces. Students will be assigned cubbies– as in past years – but should exercise caution when accessing them. As well, they should be considerate of their neighbors who may be waiting to access their own lockers. All items in a cubby i.e. Tallis or seforim should be in a plastic bag.
Cohorts will have the opportunity to use the Bais Medrash for Tefillos (according to the schedule below) and Chaburos may reserve times for Chavrusah learning.
Please note: Only one cohort may use the Bais Medrash at any given time, and social distancing must be maintained. The Bais Medrash will be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
|Bais Hamedrash 1&2||Sunday||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday|
|Shacharis 7:25||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1|
|1rst Seder||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1|
|2nd Seder||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1|
|Mincha 1:15||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1|
|Maariv 10:00||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1|
|Night Seder||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1||Minyan 1|
|Dining Room 1&2||Sunday||Monday||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday|
|Shacharis 7:15||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2|
|1rst Seder||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2|
|2nd Seder||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2|
|Mincha 1:15||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2|
|Maariv 6:20||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2|
|Night Seder & Maariv||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2||Minyan 2|
Please note: Only members of a single cohort may use the Otzar or other research rooms at any given time, and social distancing must be maintained.
- Maintenance and Cleanliness
This year, because of COVID-19 concerns, there will a special emphasis on cleanliness in the Kollel/IAJS. Throughout the day, the janitorial staff will be cleaning, and every night there will be an even more extensive cleaning and disinfecting of the building. Personal belongings must be kept overnight in students’ personal designated cubby; maintenance staff will be instructed to remove and throw out anything left on lecturns, tables, chairs, or floors.
The COVID-19 requirements are more relaxed for outdoor exiting and parking. Although such activities are subject to the cohorting requirement, wearing masks and social distancing will not be required. At these times, members of each cohort may exit together but cohorts must be separated from one another by the standard social distance.
Students – as in the past – will be allowed to leave campus during breaks subject to the limitations outlined in the Kollel/IAJS Policy on Leaving Campus – COVID-19 Version. Please note: Virtually all establishments (e.g. stores, coffee shops, restaurants) require masks for entry; students should bring masks with them if they wish to patronize these businesses.
Traditionally, we have welcomed community members, and guests to Minyanim, special learning and lecture programs, and so on. Unfortunately, for the duration of the health emergency, the building must remain closed during school hours to visitors and guests. No one has permission to allow a person who is not part of the encapsulated environment into the building. This, of course, is to reduce the potential for exposure to COVID-19. As well, all deliveries during school hours will be made to the administration office at 519 Coldstream Ave.
All conferences and other meetings will be scheduled for evenings or will be conducted by teleconferencing. In cases of great necessity, meetings may be held in the building but we will limit them to the area of the administrative offices.
We must insist that masks be worn by drivers and passengers coming to Kollel/IAJS at all times. Students and attendees not wearing masks must not be allowed to enter the premises.
We hope you will read this information carefully and find it helpful. We pray that our entire Kollel/IAJS family should be blessed with continued good health and that the COVID-19 pandemic should come, B’ezras Hashem, to a swift end.
The Kollel/IAJS Administration
 You can find the closest centre to your home at https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/
 See http://www.sickkids.ca/PDFs/About-SickKids/81497-COVID19-Recommendations-for-School-Reopening-SickKids-JUNE.pdf, Page 6; https://www.ontario.ca/page/approach-reopening-schools-2020-2021-school-year, Appendix 1.