Wise School Updates

Wise School campus is currently closed.

Updates on our campus closure and Wise School’s Coronavirus response will be shared with school families via email.

Questions? Please email [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

We will be guided by the following:

  1. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff, families and community
  2. CDC, federal, state and local guidelines and recommendations
  3. Our COVID-19 Advisory Task Force
  4. Our Return To Campus Working Groups

Advisory Task Force:

  • Head of School (Chair) – Tami
  • Early Childhood Director – Jen Shankman
  • Stephen Wise Temple Board Member – Dave Clark
  • Wise School Parent – Tamar Koosed
  • Community Liaison – Tannoz Golshan, Senior Area Representative from Mayor Garcetti’s office

Working Groups:

  • Health & Safety Working Group ES/EC
    • School Nurse (Chair) – Gail
    • School Counselor – Stephanie
    • Pediatrician – Inessa Grinberg
    • Infectious Disease Specialist
    • Director of Maintenance and Operations – 
  • Finance Working Group ES/EC
    • Head of School (Chair) – Tami
    • Stephen Wise Temple Board President – Janine Kolodny
    • Chief Financial Officer – Kevin Schaffels
    • Member of Financial Oversight Committee (board position) – Rabin Pournazarian
    • School Registrar – Estefany Garcia
  • Educational Logistics Working Group ES
    • Elementary Principal (Chair) – John Heffron
    • Director of General Studies & Student Support – Pam Kleinman
    • Director of Hebrew & Judaic Studies – Malka Clement
    • IT Director – Marc Entous
    • ES Teacher – Kim Snyder
    • ES Teacher – Karin Hacatoryn
    • Wise School Parent – Debra Siegel
    • Wise School Parent – Ariana West
  • Educational Logistics Working Group EC
    • Early Childhood Director (Chair)
    • EC Director of Admissions
    • EC Teacher
    • EC Teacher
    • EC Parent

Before delineating the various scenarios, it is important to state that we share these with you not as a survey or poll, but rather purely to be transparent as to the possibilities.  The decisions will be made by school leadership, solely guided by the recommendations of our task force and working groups.

      • Aim is to have an approximate student:teacher ratio of 10:1 (guided by government recommendations), to minimize student-to-student contact and contain the spread of the virus.
  • All-day / Every-day plan
    • This plan allows us to have all students on campus each day, for a full day of school.
    • Each small group of students would be called a “pod”.
    • One member of our Wise faculty would be assigned to each pod. However, teachers can rotate to different pods based on subject area needs and differentiation.
    • Each pod would have its own classroom space. Students stay put as we minimize travel about campus.
    • Pods at the same grade level would be in adjacent rooms or in close proximity, to support grade-level coordination.
    • Specialists would come to the pods.
      • Specialists could go into classrooms to lead lessons, or
      • Specialists could live stream into classrooms, projected by pod leader
      • We will look for opportunities for pods to travel to certain specialists’ spaces.
    • Recess times would be staggered, to minimize the number of pods outside at one time.
    • Lunch would be eaten outside, when and where possible, in designated areas for each pod.  Or, pods would eat inside their own classrooms.
    • Pros:
      • Every student is on campus every day, and all day (normal school hours)
      • Our large campus gives us plenty of classrooms to enable this spreading out.
      • Potentially allows for some after-school programming, following proper health guidelines.
      • Minimizes exposure to large groups of other students.
    • Cons:
      • This plan would stretch our faculty thin, requiring us to reduce the number of special / Hebrew / Judaic classes offered. This plan would require an “all hands on deck” approach to using our talented and versatile faculty.
      • High costs in order to equip so many extra rooms with the technology and classroom tools needed for regular instruction.
  • Half-day plan
    • Student body would be split into two groups: morning and afternoon.
    • 60% of the student body would attend in the morning: 8:00  – 11:00 a.m.
    • 40% of the student body would attend in the afternoon: 12:30 – 3:30 p.m..
    • Purpose of the 60/40 split is to allow general studies teacher to support students still learning at-home in the afternoon, when s/he has slightly fewer students. [See next question below.]
    • Families with more than one student would be placed into the same morning or afternoon time slot.
    • Maintenance requires 90 minutes to completely sanitize all classrooms after each group of students.
    • Morning students would be given schoolwork assignments to complete at home in the afternoon, continuing the learning to approximate a full day.  Likewise, afternoon students would be given schoolwork assignments to complete the following morning, before they come to campus. This plan, then, could be looked  at as half on-campus / half distance learning.
    • Pros:
      • Every student on campus every day – daily personal interaction with teacher(s).
      • Elementary-age students benefit from consistency and a regular schedule.  It allows them to get into a rhythm and helps them stay focused.
      • School does not need to deal with lunch issues (students eat lunch at home).
      • Does not require retrofitting of additional classrooms with needed equipment.
      • Allows for full use of specialists to teach their normal subject areas.
    • Cons:
      • Tough on parents, since students only on campus half the day.
      • Double the sanitizing time increases costs associated for the maintenance team.
      • Tough to offer after-school programming.
  • Alternating-day plan
    • Student body would be split into two groups
      • Group A would come to campus Mondays and Wednesdays.
      • Group B would come to campus Tuesdays and Thursdays.
      • Each group would attend every other Friday.
      • Families with more than one student would be placed into the same weekly schedule.
    • Pros:
      • Allows for a more “normal” schedule of general ed. and specialists, although truncated.
    • Cons:
      • Elementary age students benefit from daily contact with their teacher(s). This plan requires our young students to be extra responsible in terms of getting their schoolwork done on days when they stay at home.
      • Halting flow to the school week, with one day on and one day off. This type of flow works better with older students who are more responsible and self-motivated.
      • Requires school to grapple with various lunchtime issues.
      • Tough on parents, since students only on campus half the day.
      • Tough to offer after-school programming.
  • 100% distance learning
    • Of course we are hoping for a return to campus.  But, if necessary, we certainly will continue with distance learning as we’ve been doing it this spring, but with tweaks and adjustments based on parent and teacher feedback.

While we are very proud of our faculty, both in how quickly they transitioned to this new way of teaching and in the ingenuity they exhibited in creating a distance learning program from scratch, we know that we can always improve on what we’re doing.

One thing we would look to do is to “normalize” the daily schedule. This would partly involve a more consistent and predictable weekly schedule for all grade levels.  Also, we will look to increase the amount of daily instructional minutes, perhaps by offering more Zoom time with H/JS and specialists. 

We always have to be mindful of age-appropriate screen time – our younger students cannot sustain their focus for too long while sitting on Zoom. Also, we would not look to have students distance learning from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. every day, as if they were on campus.  On campus learning takes more time because the day is filled with transitions and breaks and recess and lunch and assemblies and the like.  At-home distance learning is more compact and efficient, and so does not require quite as long of a day.  

Additionally, we will look to add features like:

  • Teacher office hours for student support 
  • More consistent and formalized assessment and feedback

For a variety of reasons, we already have families that have expressed the need for their child(ren) to continue with distance learning for a time, even if most students can be on campus.  There are a few strategies that we are exploring to enable us to facilitate simultaneous on-campus and distance learning.

  • We are looking into purchasing equipment that will enable us to live-stream one classroom per grade level, which will allow students still at home to attend school in “real time” – to see and hear teacher-directed lessons, classroom discussions, peer questions, etc.
    • We are also looking into technology that will alert the classroom teacher when students at home either have a question or wish to respond to teacher questions.
  • We will assign one teacher at each grade level to be the “point person” for distance learners.  This teacher will Zoom with at-home students daily to make sure they comprehend assignment expectations, to answer questions, to check for student understanding, and to keep at-home students on track with her/his peers.

The Educational Logistics Working Group will brainstorm additional ideas, along with looking at parent surveys and faculty suggestions.

As our instructional program will continue throughout the 2020-21 school year, there is no reduction in tuition or fees. Should your student withdraw from Wise School, you will have the option to activate your Dewar’s tuition insurance, if they have attended 14 consecutive days of school.  If you’ve paid tuition in full, you will receive 60% of the tuition back. If you are on a payment plan, the insurance covers 60% of the remaining balance.

The largest expense (80% – 90%) in Wise School’s budget is personnel – paying our teachers, staff and administrators. This expense does not change whether students are on campus or learning from home. Wise School, while operating under a balanced budget as a not-for-profit institution, does not have a significant endowment to support a discount in tuition. This coming year’s budget is driven by projections of decreased revenue (lower enrollment, lower fundraising) and increased expenses (educational technology platforms and tools).Examples of additional costs for the coming school year:

  • Expanding technology resources and tools to allow for return to campus and distance learning
  • Professional development of faculty for new learning environments and tools for return to campus and distance learning
  • Retrofitting classrooms and vital school spaces to allow for return to campus
  • Expanding health & safety protocols and supplies to allow for return to campus
Throughout the summer and coming school year, you will receive regular communications updating you on Wise School policies and procedures.

Currently, we are working on two different academic supports for this summer.

  • Summer Work Packet
      • This packet will be made available in June, and is designed to be used throughout the summer.
      • Packets will be grade-specific.
      • Packets will include a mixture of reading, writing, math, language arts, and other important learning strands and skills.
      • Packets will include a cover letter with a suggested pacing guide, as well as some answer keys.
      • While optional, we are hoping to include a small incentive for completed packets that are turned in to teachers in August.
  • Summer Academic Booster Week
    • August 17 – 21
    • Free, grade-specific videos, age-appropriate in length, for incoming Kinder – 6th grade students, created by Wise faculty
    • This will be a review of previous year’s learning – not new material
    • An accompanying packet of work that aligns to the lessons taught in the videos
    • Five straight days of videos
      • Language Arts each day
      • Mathematics each day
      • Hebrew each day (grades 2 – 6)
    • Extension activities that align to the skills modeled in the videos
    • Meant to be a strong jump start to the new school year!

No. Most private schools in L.A. may have narrowed down their choices, but are wisely keeping their options open and staying flexible to adjust to ever-evolving circumstances and guidance from authorities.  While it is our hope to have all students who wish to be back on campus here every day, we are still considering other options, including:

  • Continued distance learning, depending on the State and local mandates.
  • Staggered schedules that minimize the number of students and faculty on campus on any given day, but that would involve students learning from home more than they are on campus.

We have purchased several Meeting Owl Pro devices, which are smart meeting conference cameras that capture video and audio within the classroom.  The Owl’s 360 degree camera follows whoever is speaking in the room.  Students not in that particular classroom can see and hear the teacher, and those in the classroom can hear the students at home or in adjacent pods. A teacher can not only stream her lesson to students at home, but also to students in other pods at that grade level.

We are also looking into voice amplification technology so that students who are either sitting far from the teacher or not even in the room can better hear and understand the teacher’s voice and speech. We will continue to use Zoom and Google Classroom, along with other online platforms such as Newsela and JiTap, and we have purchased IXL Math and Language Arts for all grade levels, K – 6.

In coordination with our Health & Safety Working Group and L.A. County guidelines, we will be instituting several standard measures to reduce opportunities for spread of the COVID-19 virus:

  • Physical distancing – in classrooms, restrooms, eating areas, recess, P.E., etc.
    • Students and adults in the room 40s hallway will be required to use certain exits and entrances, depending on their grade level.
    • Hallways will have lines and directional arrows to help control flow of traffic.
    • Restrooms will have signage and floor markings to help with proper distancing.
    • Student seats in classrooms will be six feet apart.
  • Protective Gear
    • Teachers will have masks and face shields.
    • Students may be required to wear a mask.
  • Hygiene
    • Hand sanitizers will be located in every classroom.
    • Touchless portable sanitizer stations will be located in strategic locations about campus.
    • We are looking into portable hand washing stations.
    • Students will be taught proper hand washing techniques, and time will be allotted throughout the day for hand washing and/or sanitizing.
  • Pods
    • Pods allow for smaller student groups, which in turn allows for proper physical distancing in classrooms.
    • Students will remain in their pod only, they will not physically interact with other pods.
    • While some teachers may move in and out of pods, teachers will also be able to live-stream into classrooms to facilitate learning and instruction.
    • Pods will have designated eating and playing areas during recess and lunch, to maintain proper distancing.

Wise School Early Childhood – FAQs!

At this time, our school will be open to welcome children to our campus.

Each classroom/pod will have 2 teachers with no more than 10 children.

At this time, our hours will be 9-12 or 9-2.   As of now, the guidelines state that there will be no mixing of classes or students from room to room.

We will not have nursery school Zoom classes with teachers.  We will offer regular opportunities to connect to the Temple and Wise School through services, Tot Shabbat, Wise Parent Association events, and other community programs. For parenting center online offerings, please consult our parenting center calendar.

  • Wash your hands oftenwith soap and warm water (scrub for twenty seconds), especially before and after eating, using the restroom, or touching common area surfaces such as doorknobs, railings, and countertops.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Clean and disinfectfrequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Limit close contact, such as sharing cups or utensils.
  • If you need to cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue, then discard the tissue in the trash. If you do not have a tissue, use your sleeve, not your hand.
  • If you are sick or think you are sick, STAY AT HOME.Nothing is worth risking your health or the health of others.

As the impact of the spread of the coronavirus continues to develop, Wise is preparing to meet the emerging needs of our community. We anticipate that some members of our community will face dire circumstances and require emergency assistance. To that end, your Wise clergy have established a dedicated emergency fund to receive donations from those who would like to ensure that we can assist those who are most in need. Disbursements from this fund will be at clergy discretion and respect confidentiality as we provide assistance to those who need aid most. Every single dollar donated will be used to help those in need during this difficult time, both Wise congregants and those beyond our immediate community.

Select Emergency Relief Donation