A COVID-19 outbreak has taken center stage at the Kadima Day School, a renowned Jewish day school located in the Valley in Los Angeles. The situation escalated when students and a member of the professional staff from several of the school's classes was diagnosed with the virus both from last week and earlier this week as well. In response, the school administration has introduced mandatory measures, including mask-wearing and testing, sparking a wave of concern among parents.
The initial announcement, made on Monday, informed parents of the staff member's diagnosis and subsequent isolation. In accordance with health authority guidelines, a recommendation was issued for students to undergo COVID-19 testing and to wear masks inside enclosed spaces for the next 10 days.
The school administration issued a message to parents: "Please feel free to send your child to school in the coming days in any well-fitting mask of your choice. " The administration expressed regret for the necessity of these measures but emphasized that their hands were tied after health authorities declared the school the site of an outbreak. Later in the week, the Department of Public Health sent the message: "Children who do not have masks will not be admitted to class."
In a recent update, the health authorities officially designated the school at large as a site associated with the outbreak due to multiple infections among its students. Consequently, a more stringent directive was issued, mandating all students in the class to wear masks when indoors for the next 10 days and provide a negative COVID-19 test result to gain entry to the school premises.
The school administration made it unequivocally clear that the new measures were non-negotiable. "Unfortunately, this is not a request, or even a recommendation. It is a requirement. As the site of an outbreak, the school risks having the entire campus shut down if we are found to be out of compliance with the order. We are not able to offer exemptions from these rules, or exceptions to them," the letter said.
Parents who oppose the mandates expressed their reservations to the local news site Hebrewnews, particularly concerning the seemingly contradictory approach to the pandemic in recent months. The relaxation of isolation requirements in Israel and the US, along with the declining severity of cases have led some to question the necessity of such stringent measures for asymptomatic children.
Despite these concerns, the school's decision stands firm, with the announcement reiterating that the measures were imperative in light of health authority designations and the potential risk of campus-wide closure.
״Exceptions to the mandates will not be entertained,״ according to the school.
Keeping children at home in protest
The situation has sparked a debate among parents, prompting some to consider keeping their children at home in protest. The broader discussion also underscores the ongoing tensions between public health recommendations and individual liberties, as well as the evolving understanding of COVID-19's impact on children.
Kadima Day School, established in 1970, holds a unique position as one of the first Jewish day schools in the West Valley. Its affordable tuition structure, backed by prominent donors including the late Sheldon Adelson, attracts Israeli families and those seeking education steeped in Jewish values. According to its official website, it is is not affiliated with any one Jewish denomination. Students attend Hebrew-language and Judaic Studies classes daily in conjunction with our integrated curriculum model. They experience weekly prayer services on Mondays and Kabbalat Shabbat on Fridays. It is a kosher campus and all male students in the elementary school must wear kippot. With 304 students spanning from preschool to 8th grade, the school boasts a student-teacher ratio of 7 to 1.
The school did not provide an immediate response to Ynetnews's request for comment.
First published: 13:09, 08.31.23