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24 Av 5781

August 2, 2021

Dear ICJA Family:

The countdown to the new school year has begun, and the final preparations for an inspiring and exciting new educational experience are now underway.

True, ICJA is about to embark on its 79th year as the premier modern Orthodox college-prep high school, but this year is also a year of change and innovation. Here are just a few examples (with a lot more information to come!):

1. Over the summer, we welcomed our newest member of the administrative team, Rabbi Dr. Gavriel Brown as our new assistant dean. 

2. As part of our regular cycle of curricular review, we are updating the Science and Hebrew curriculum – adding a special test-prep class to 11th-grade math and introducing Ulpan Or to work alongside our NETA Hebrew curriculum.

3. Our all-school retreat will return this year, as will our popular “pop-ups” – a fun holdover from last year’s programming.

9th-grade schedules will be sent this week, and updated 10th-12th grade schedules will be sent the following week. Please remember, program change requests can be initiated via our online form – click here.

Finally, we have been in regular contact with our medical committee and the Skokie Board of Health to review our policies for the coming year. We are committed to following the science and adapting to the needs of our population. Things will change (hopefully for the better), but as of today, the following are the COVID protocols for the coming year.

1. We strongly encourage all students, staff, and faculty to be fully vaccinated before the beginning of the school year. However, until the FDA issues a regular approval for the vaccine, students who are not vaccinated may attend school but must be masked whenever inside the building. Vaccinated students, staff, and faculty may choose to wear masks, but will not be required to wear masks at present.

Once the FDA issues a regular approval for the COVID-19 vaccine, we will enforce the same policy as we have for the MMR vaccine – all students, faculty, and staff must be vaccinated to attend ICJA. The only exception will be in cases of a medical need, and then, those cases must be presented to our medical committee for special approval.

2. All unvaccinated persons in the school will be required to be tested for COVID twice a week – on Mondays and Thursdays. We have contracted with the SHIELD program of the University of Illinois and will be using their PCR saliva test. The test will be free of charge and will be administered at the beginning of both lunch periods and will take only a few minutes. However, those being tested cannot eat or drink for 60 minutes before the test.

3. To be exempted from our unvaccinated mask mandate and twice-weekly testing protocol, a copy of your vaccination card must be uploaded to our parent portal. (In my account, select “student,” go to medical history and scroll down to “proof of vaccination.”) 

4. All participants in indoor sports will also need to participate in our twice-weekly testing program, regardless of their vaccination status. These tests will be administered from the time that indoor practices begin and through the entire season. 

5. All members of the ICJA band will need to participate in our twice-weekly testing program, regardless of their vaccination status. 

6. All classes will be arranged to allow for a minimum of 3′ social distancing as per the CDC guidelines. 

7. Our cafeteria will be fully reopened (including an expanded menu, soda bar, and soft-serve yogurt machine!). However, until the weather changes, unvaccinated students will need to eat both breakfast and lunch outdoors. Once the weather changes, we will provide indoor options.

8. Finally, whether or not you are vaccinated, if you have any COVID-like symptoms (a sore throat, cough, fever, loss of taste/smell, or headache), PLEASE do not come to school.  Even vaccinated individuals can catch or spread COVID and so may not attend school with COVID suspicious symptoms.  Check with your doctor and get tested for COVID.

If you have any questions about these policies, please be in touch, and please upload a copy of your vaccination card and health form to our portal ASAP!

This has been a great summer, and I hope everyone has had a chance to recharge, relax and enjoy! I look forward to greeting everyone on August 23rd @ 8:00am!

Stay safe, stay connected and stay inspired!



Rabbi Leonard A. Matanky, Ph.D.

Dean, Ida Crown Jewish Academy 

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