JDS changes COVID-19 protocols as cases decrease after Omicron surge


Ella Waldman, LT

COVID-19 policies change due to a decline in cases.

Daniela Abrams, Editor-in-Chief

CESJDS has announced an adjustment to COVID-19 protocols that will be implemented on Monday, March 7. The protocol includes optional masking in classroom settings and offices for faculty and students while masking in hallways and public spaces, physical distancing of three feet and weekly PCR testing will remain in place. 

Montgomery County removed its mask mandate following a decrease in COVID-19 cases after the Omicron surge, and many independent schools in the county have now followed that decision and removed their mask mandates as well. ​​JDS made this decision in accordance with the CDC guidelines and Maryland State Department of Education’s recommendations. 

“We are fortunate enough to live in an area where the rates have really come down,” parent and member of the school medical committee Dr. Rebecca Gross said. “The idea is that instead of ripping off the band-aid and saying no masks anywhere, we want to just get back slowly so both teachers and students can get used to the idea psychologically and become less nervous about the whole idea.” 

Because 99 percent of the JDS community is vaccinated, the risks of COVID-19 remain relatively low. Those who feel at risk are still able to wear masks to further protect themselves. 

“KN95 masks provide significant protection to the wearer, which makes me feel that those who are not yet comfortable are going to have excellent protection even if other students in the class are not wearing them,” Head of School Rabbi Mitchel Malkus said. 

JDS emphasizes that the decision to wear a mask is an individual choice, and students and faculty are encouraged to do what they feel most comfortable with after having conversations with their families at home. 

“We all have to be respectful and tolerant of what people decide because some will decide to wear masks and some will feel comfortable not wearing masks,” Gross said.

Of course, the school still faces the risk of another spike in COVID-19 cases. In that case, the medical advisory board will have to reevaluate their protocols and make a decision. 

“We are very hopeful that will not happen and that we can keep backing off as the year goes on and not have to put anything back on but we, of course, can’t predict,” Gross said. 

Many are looking forward to regaining an even greater sense of normalcy, especially in the classroom environment. Going maskless will provide students and faculty with the opportunity to more easily engage with one another in discussions. 

“I am extremely excited to go maskless so I can see all my friend’s faces, especially those I’m not very close to,” junior Sammy Schreiber said. “We’ve matured so much in the past year and going maskless will give us the ability to connect with one another more easily and foster greater classroom discussions.”