This handbook is a living document.  It will be revised based on public health guidance

and local experience.  Updated as of February 10, 2021.


This policy has been adapted from our existing policies to maintain the good health of children, families and faculty at Paul Penna DJDS during the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes from existing policies have been made in accordance with Ontario Public Health and Ontario Ministry of Education requirements, as well as decisions made by Paul Penna DJDS, in consultation with our Pandemic Task Force and Medical Advisory Panel and the MNjcc.

This handbook is a living document. It will be revised based on public health guidance and local experience.  Updated as of September 1, 2020.

The protocols in this handbook are in accordance with Toronto Public Health requirements and based on the advice of our Medical Advisory Panel and Pandemic Task Force. All policies in this document supersede those in our Parent Handbook where applicable.

Paul Penna DJDS


750 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, ON M5S 2J2

ph:  416-928-3537

Questions regarding this safety and exposure control plan should be directed to:

Amy Platt, Head of School

e: amy@djds.ca


COVID-19 is a respiratory infection that is spread mainly by droplets. These are small particles dispersed one to two metres when people cough or sneeze. Droplets can also land on environmental surfaces. People who touch those surfaces and subsequently touch  their eyes, nose, or mouth can become infected.


In order to operate safe programs and maintain the health of our staff and students, we have received the following guidelines and advice from The Ministry of Education, Toronto Public Health, education lawyer, Eric Roher of BLG (Borden, Ladner, Gervais), CAIS (Canadian Accredited Independent Schools) and our own Medical Advisory Panel. 


Paul Penna DJDS is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all faculty and students. A bundle of measures will be used to minimize exposure to COVID-19. Our procedures will protect not only our own employees, but also students and others who enter our premises. Faculty, families and caregivers are required to follow the procedures outlined in this Health and Safety plan to help prevent or reduce exposure to COVID-19.



Infection prevention and control measures help create a safe environment for students and staff. The Hierarchy of Infection Prevention and Exposure Control Measures for Communicable Disease describes the measures that can be taken to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Control measures at the top of the list are more effective than those at the bottom. By implementing a combination of measures at each level, risk of COVID-19 is substantially reduced.

Public Health Measures are actions taken across society to limit the spread and reduce the impact of COVID-19. The Provincial Health Officer has implemented public health measures, including: prohibiting mass gatherings, effective case finding and contact tracing, and emphasizing the need for people to stay home when they are sick. This also includes mandatory 14 day quarantine for travellers entering or returning to Canada. At the present time, we are also recommending a 14 day quarantine period for those that have travelled outside of Ontario.

Environmental Measures are physical changes in the setting that reduce risk of exposure by isolation or ventilation. Examples include being in outdoor spaces, having good ventilation and air exchange, using visual cues for maintaining physical distance, erecting physical barriers where appropriate and frequent cleaning and disinfection.

Administrative Measures are measures enabled by implementing policies, procedures, training and education. Examples include changes in scheduling and work practices, and decreased density of individuals.

Personal Measures are actions individuals can take to both protect themselves and others. These include staying home when sick, physical distancing, minimizing direct physical contact, respiratory hygiene, and hand hygiene.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is a critical part of the Health and Safety Protocols. When all individuals within a building are masked, risk of COVID transmission decreases. The evidence on non-medical masking is seen as an important component of the bundle of measures that should be implemented to allow individuals within a community setting to protect each other.


Paul Penna DJDS is proud of the strong relationships between our families and our school and at this challenging time, will rely on that strength and our open lines of communication to ensure the safety and health of our community.  Our plan for return to school will evolve as needed in response to emerging educational and/or health scenarios that may arise during the course of this school year. 


Our Learning Model combines traditional face to face in class instruction, digitally connected instruction from a different classroom in our building, and teacher-supported independent and partner work.  Classes will be organized into cohorts to ensure students can maintain physical distancing (2m distance between desks) in the classroom setting. In addition, class cohorting and physical distancing will be bundled with many other protocols to enhance safety and infection prevention. 

Schedules for teachers are being developed to limit their exposure to the fewest number of grades and cohorts. 

Students who are returning to school physically,  are encouraged to attend school everyday.  On days when students are not in their primary classroom, they will be supervised by MNjcc Aftercare managers and taught by their core teachers in a face to face and virtual way.  During the course of every day, students will have face to face time with their grade teachers as well as with Paul Penna DJDS resource teachers who will reinforce lessons and help with independent work. 

MNjcc staff will provide our students with support during independent work time as well as direction to available Paul Penna DJDS online support (teacher office hours, digital resource teachers and Google classroom instructional videos and assignments). They will also supervise our students in the gym and during outdoor time – at local parks – or in the room. Paul Penna DJDS and the MNjcc are working in partnership to ensure all Protocols are equally enforced in the school wing and other parts of the MNjcc.


Some students will not be able to return to school face to face, either for a short, medium or long term.  In these cases, each class will have a unique schedule that will allow for students at home to connect into the classroom in a synchronous way each day. There will also be 1:1 and small group instruction available to support asynchronous work. Opportunities to stay socially connected to children in the cohort will be organized on a case by case basis.




Each morning, parents must assess the health and overall well-being of each of their children.  Families will be required to complete and submit a daily digital screener for each of their children by 8am.

All faculty will also be required to complete the same daily screening.

If a student or staff member becomes ill outside of school

  • Students or staff who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 must follow Toronto Public Health directives, get tested and self-isolate for 14 days after their last contact with that person.
    • If at any time a student is instructed to self-isolate, they may participate in Online Learning.
  • Students or staff who have any signs of illness should consult Telehealth, their health care provider, or their local public health unit for advice. They must notify the school and are not to come to school.
  •  A child may return to school 24 hours after symptoms have disappeared or begun to improve provided parents have completed the Parental Confirmation for Return to School Form.  Please click here to access this form. 
  • If a child experiences chronic symptoms, such as a runny nose and, after 24 hours it is improving, they may return to school if they don’t have any other symptoms.  We recommend that you speak to your health care provider about providing a note regarding any pre-existing or seasonal conditions, such as allergies, to keep on file at school.  This will assist with managing symptoms at school.
  • If another individual in a student’s household becomes unwell, students must stay home until the unwell person receives a negative COVID-19 test or the student has completed 10 days of self-isolation. Families are encouraged to carefully monitor all family members at home for possible symptoms.

If a student becomes ill while in school 

  • They will immediately be separated from others in a designated isolation room until picked up. The student will be accompanied to the room by a trained staff member who will remain with them until they are picked up by a parent. 
  • Both the staff member and the student will be required to wear a mask and other required PPE. 
  • The isolation room will be equipped with a PPE kit that includes masks, gloves, gown, face shield and tissues. The room will be disinfected once the individual leaves. 
  • We ask that parents contact your healthcare provider, Telehealth or Toronto Public Health immediately, follow their directives, and maintain contact with either our Front Office Administrator or Operations Manager.
    • The student will not be allowed back at school until they have been cleared by Public Health.
  •  A child who has been unwell may return to school when the following is true:
    • The child has received a negative COVID-19 test OR has been self-isolating for 10 days since symptoms first emerged:  AND
    • 24 hours after symptoms have disappeared or have been improving for 24 hours begun to improve AND
    • Parents have completed the Parental Confirmation for Return to School Form.  Please click here to access this form.  
  • Siblings of students sent home unwell and who are asymptomatic themselves may remain at school and continue to attend even if the unwell child is awaiting COVID-19 test results, provided the sibling(s) remain asymptomatic.  Families are encouraged to carefully monitor siblings at home for possible symptoms. 

If a staff member becomes ill while in school 

  • If they are unable to get home safely, they will wait in the isolation room until such time as a member of their bubble can pick them up. They will be required to follow all of the steps laid out for sick students in the isolation room.
  • Staff are asked to contact their healthcare provider, to follow their directives, and maintain contact with either our Vice-Principal or Head of School.
    • Staff will not be allowed back at school until they have been cleared by Public Health either with a confirmed negative COVID-19 test or a letter from a medical professional confirming that it is safe for them to return.
  • If they have one or more COVID-19 symptoms, and have been advised to do so by either public health or their own healthcare providers, they are to get tested and self-isolate pending results.
  •  A staff member may return to school 24 hours after symptoms have disappeared or begun to improve provided they have received one of the following:
    • (i) a confirmed negative test for COVID -19; 
    • (ii)  consent from Toronto Public Health; or 
    • (iii)  confirmation from a licensed physician that any remaining symptoms are NOT related to COVID-19.
  • If the staff member is confirmed positive for COVID-19, they will not be allowed back at school until they have been cleared by Public Health.


The following steps must be taken when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 (student or staff):

  • Operations Manager records information including attendance, contact information, class list, seating charts, parent contact information and visitor sign-in logs for possible Toronto Public Health (TPH) contact tracing purposes. 
  • Operations Manager reports name of employee/student to TPH. 
  • Students and employees who test positive for COVID-19 will self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with TPH protocol.
  • Operations Manager will work with TPH on letters to the school community. 
  • TPH will follow up with the Head of School/Operations Manager, if needed.
  • Operations Manager will discuss any enhanced cleaning protocols that may need to be performed with the caretaking staff. These area(s) will be closed until this enhanced cleaning is completed. 
  • Additional direction will be taken from TPH and is based on Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health guidance in the workplace.


We will be prepared to implement adapted delivery models should public health conditions require them, including an alternating day schedule or moving one or more classes to a fully online distance learning model for whatever length of time is needed.


Arrival and dismissal will need to be staggered in order to reduce the congestion in the stairwells and the hallways. Please note that at this time, we are not able to offer early morning drop-off. 

These arrival and dismissal practices will require tweaking over the course of the first few weeks of school and will require patience on the part of students, families and faculty. We thank you in advance for partnering with us to create a process that is safe for students, families and faculty.  


Paul Penna DJDS students will enter the building from the northern entrance on Bloor Street and use a school designated stairwell up the north end of the building. When students are dropped off at their assigned drop-off time, the digital screening tool must be displayed to a Paul Penna DJDS staff member on duty.  If the at-home screening has not been done prior to arrival, students will be required to wait outside the MNjcc until a staff member is able to assist with the completion of this task.  Students with incomplete or missing daily screening results will not be permitted to enter the MNjcc. The staff member will also take student temperatures. Younger students will be directed to wait in a designated area for teachers to escort them upstairs. Students will be given hand sanitizer before entering the building. Older students will go upstairs directly, spaced out to allow for physical distancing. Staff members will be placed at the top of stairways and throughout hallways to direct students to their appropriate classrooms. All students will sanitize their hands before entering their classrooms. 

Students with younger siblings will follow the same screening protocols and will be able to enter the building when the stairwell is clear, but in the same time block as a younger sibling, and head directly upstairs to their classrooms.

Grades 5 and 6 students attending school for the MNjcc supervised day will enter the building through the Spadina entrance and will be screened by MNjcc staff using their screening app. MNjcc staff will escort the students to their learning spaces.

Students who are late for school will not be allowed into the building until 9:15 and will be required to enter the building through the Spadina entrance. MNjcc staff will screen students and will notify the school office when students are ready to be escorted upstairs. 


At their assigned dismissal times, students will be escorted to the Bloor St. entrance and weather permitting wait outside where they will be lined up in cohorted, supervised groups from the east side of the Bloor Street entrance continuing down Spadina. In the event of inclement weather, or if the administrative staff on duty deem it safest, children will wait, with teachers, inside the MNjcc until staff confirm that a parent / caregiver is present to pick them up.  Parents and caregivers picking up students will wait to the west of the Bloor Street entrance. Children will be delivered to their caregivers by Paul Penna DJDS staff. We ask that those picking up students to wear a mask at all times and to maintain at least 6 feet distance from others wherever possible.  


Younger students being picked up by older siblings will wait in the second-floor foyer (outside of the school office) with staff supervision until their older siblings are ready to pick them up. With permission, older students, who are allowed to self-dismiss, will be allowed to dismiss earlier in order to pick up siblings. Individual family arrangement for sibling pickup should be arranged with the office staff in advance of the pick up routine beginning. Please ensure that any changes to student arrival or dismissal routines are communicated via email to the Front Office Administrator at schooloffice@djds.ca.  



All students will be escorted outside by their teachers in cohorted groups at designated dismissal times, or taken first to meet younger siblings, and then taken outside. Students with permission to self-dismiss can leave once they are outside and have notified the teacher that they are leaving.
Non-essential visitors, including parents and caregivers, will not be permitted in the building.

If a child needs to be picked up early, parents and caregivers should notify the school office, and the child will be escorted downstairs and outside to the Bloor street exit.



As per the current Ministry of Education guidelines, and the direction of our Medical Advisory Panel and Pandemic Task Force, students from SK to Grade 6 will wear masks at all  times, with the exception of eating.  Efforts are being made to increase outdoor times for all students to provide physical activity and allow for scheduled mask breaks during the day. Faculty, guided by our school nurse, will work with students on safely wearing and storing masks. Efforts are being made to increase outdoor times for all students to allow for mask breaks during the day. Faculty, guided by our school nurse, will work with students on safely wearing and storing masks. 

There is a learning curve for wearing masks for a sustained period of time, and we will work with our faculty and students to both normalize the experience and create additional comfort daily. Please ensure that all students bring 4 labelled masks to school daily, in case of misplacement or soiling of one of the masks and a bag for storage daily. It is recommended that students practice mask-wearing prior to returning to school.

All faculty will wear masks in common spaces, classrooms and communal work spaces. Teachers will be provided with a level 1 medical mask daily. Each teacher will also be provided with a “smile” mask that allows their mouth to be seen. They will wear this for certain social, community and educational experiences. Teachers will be provided with additional PPE, including face shields and gloves to be worn when needed and as directed by public health.  Spare masks will be kept in each classroom in the event a new mask is needed. 


All students in the school will be placed in a class cohort and remain with that cohort throughout the day, including for lunchtime. Daily routines will be arranged to greatly reduce the amount of time a child from one cohort is in contact with children from another cohort.  This includes outdoor play time, where children in cohorts will be physically separated from each other. 

All cohorts will have 22 students or less.  Grades 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6 have been broken into two equal small groups with 11 to 13 students each. SK and Grade 3 will capitalize on the opportunity to safely fit the whole class into one room, allowing them to each be a single cohort, with 18 and 20 students respectively. 

Cohorts have been created using input from the parent survey, teacher recommendation and, where applicable, aftercare registration to ensure safe cohorting through the day.  Cohort information will be shared next week.


Physical distancing will be taken seriously.  Students will keep the recommended physical distance from students within and beyond their cohort.  While in the classrooms, student desks will be placed 2 metres apart.  Teachers will teach and give guidance to individual students from a safe physical distance.  Where physical distancing is a challenge, additional practices will be put into place, including PPE, plexiglass, reducing group size, and interacting outdoors. In the hallways, floor markers will be laid to help students understand safe physical distancing measurements.  Cubby access will be limited to one grade at a time and hooks will be appropriately spaced from other children in the same cohort.  When moving to and from the roof, one stairwell will be used to move students up and a different one will be used to move students down. This will help maintain a safe distance and prevent the mixing of cohorts. 


Please review proper handwashing techniques with your children prior to the start of the school year.  These hand-washing resources can be used to teach effective hand washing to children of all ages. 

A schedule of hand washing and sanitizing will become part of our daily routine at school, and teachers will reinforce effective hand washing/sanitizing techniques. Hand sanitizing dispensers will be available outside and inside all classrooms.  Students are asked to bring personal hand sanitizer to be used at their personal workspace.

Students will wash or sanitize their hands:

  • Before removing or putting on a mask.
  • After taking off a mask.
  • Upon arrival in class in the morning and during dismissal.
  • Before and after eating.
  • Before and after leaving the class and reentering from recess or gym.
  • Before leaving school at the end of the day.


The number of students in each washroom will be limited and a system of indicating how many students are in the washroom at any one time will be developed.  Students will follow strict hand washing protocols before leaving the washroom.  Washrooms will be disinfected and cleaned multiple times throughout the day.


The MNjcc has continued to partner with our school in maintaining the highest standards for cleanliness. Cleaning will be conducted more frequently and with a team of MNjcc custodial staff who will work with us to ensure the highest standards for cleanliness. A deep clean will be conducted every evening and an additional cleaning protocol will be added on the weekend as a weekly practice.


The MNjcc will be assigning a GDI staff member to Paul Penna DJDS whose duties will be dedicated specifically to daily cleaning of all school spaces.  The MNjcc has been provided with our schedules and will coordinate with janitorial staff to ensure that frequently touched surfaces and classrooms are cleaned multiple times throughout the day when students are engaging in outdoor activities or during their gym time.  Washrooms will be cleaned consistently throughout the day and frequency with which this is done will be adjusted as necessary.  In addition, all school spaces will be deep cleaned nightly.  


We are confident that our building has an HVAC system that is up to code and meets all provincial regulations. However, we are committed to going beyond just this system to ensure our air is as clean as it can be. Fresh air vents will remain open, pumping fresh air into the classrooms as part of the air circulation system. In addition we will be adding a HEPA filter medical grade air purifier to each classroom.  These units will be installed in October, in advance of the colder weather. 

Classroom doors will be left open as much as possible to limit contact with door handles.


Students will play outside in cohorted groups.  When playing on the roof they will be with the entire grade but separated into their cohorts.  When playing on the field, other grades will be present, but all students will be asked to stay in the area designated to their own cohort. 

Where possible students will make regular trips to local parks with their classmates.  This will allow for additional outdoor learning and social time.  Students will continue to stay with their cohort for this time and continue to practice physical distancing.  Students will continue to wear masks, even during outdoor play.


Snack and lunch time will continue to be used as times for students to relax, nourish their bodies and participate in prayer rituals associated with food – blessings before and after the meal.  All food and eating utensils for students must arrive with them in the morning.  We will not accept food deliveries during the day or lunches dropped off midday.  Our ‘no food sharing’ policy will be strictly enforced. 

Off campus lunch for Grade 6 students will be cancelled. We will reevaluate this decision throughout the school year. 

We are working with our food providers to safely bring hot lunch into the school a few days a week.   It will be packaged in individually wrapped servings and handled in a way compliant with health and safety regulations. Term 2 of the hot lunch program will begin the week of  February 22, 2021 and be offered 4 days per week.  Notice of registration for this program as well as other PA initiatives that we are able to offer safely will be sent 2-3 weeks in advance of the start of each of the remaining terms.

Students should bring their own water bottle daily and bring it home at the end of the day for cleaning. It is advisable to send two water bottles reducing the need for students to refill water bottles at school. 


Whole school celebrations and assemblies will be marked in modified ways and will take place in accordance with safety protocols.  

At this time, JDSSL has cancelled all tournaments and sporting events.  When they feel that these events can take place with safe protocols in place, students will again be able to join teams.  

In-person field trips and lunch clubs will not take place at this time.


The mental health and well-being of our students has been key in our planning for the return to school in September. We are well aware that students will need adjustment time as they get used to the safety protocols along with their integration into our new cohorting model.  As well, some students might need accommodations throughout the year. Our teaching teams will stay committed to meeting needs of the students while maintaining health and safety protocols. 

We will be providing professional development to our faculty both in the area of health and safety as well as in further supporting students’ needs as they return to school after this six month absence.  

We have also increased our school social worker’s time at the school to provide assistance both to faculty and to those students who may require greater social-emotional support during this more challenging year. 


We will contact families and consult Toronto Public Health when:

  • A parent (or member of a student’s household) tests positive for COVID-19 
  • Staff member or visitor of the MNjcc has been within the school spaces tests positive for COVID-19
  • Student/staff in any cohort tests positive 
  • There has been an outbreak in a cohort or several cohorts that require a move to online learning for affected cohorts
  • There has been an outbreak in several cohorts that require a move to online learning for the entire school

We will NOT contact all families when a child is feeling unwell: 

  • Student/staff leaves school unwell and is advised to get tested by Public Health
  • If a child does not come to school because they are unwell and a COVID test is recommended
  • If a student or faculty leaves school unwell and in is advised NOT to get tested for COVID-19

All notices will be in a secure section of the Current Family Section of our website under the heading COVID-19 updates, and will be emailed school-wide.

The school is committed to transparency, and expects families will be equally transparent in sharing any potential risks back to the school.



As always, the safety and well-being of our students and faculty is of utmost importance.  Guided by Ontario Public Health, the Ontario Ministry of Education, our school’s Pandemic Task Force and our Medical Advisory Panel, we have put the safest and most beneficial plan for our community into place.  As we return to the MNjcc in September, we will continue working together to provide highly meaningful learning experiences for our students.  We thank you, our parents, for your trust and for partnering with us on this unprecedented journey.

We extend our gratitude to The Paul Penna DJDS Board of Directors, Pandemic Task Force, our Medical Advisory Panel, our colleagues at Leo Baeck Day School, Robbins Hebrew Academy, Netivot HaTorah Day School, Bialik Hebrew Day School and The Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education for their guidance and support in the preparation of this document.


Paul Penna Downtown
Jewish Day School
750 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J2
(Located in the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre)


(416) 928-3537