Masking requirements easing in Pittsburgh’s Jewish institutions
COVID-19Policy update

Masking requirements easing in Pittsburgh’s Jewish institutions

CDS, Hillel Academy and the JCC are among those institutions easing masking mandates.

(Stock image via Pixabay)
(Stock image via Pixabay)

As COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop throughout Greater Pittsburgh, several Jewish organizations announced they are lifting or rolling back their masking policies.

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and Hillel Academy are eliminating some mask requirements, while Community Day School is easing mask mandates outdoors and social distancing restrictions elsewhere on campus.

The JCC decision applies to all members using its facilities.

“Effective March 1, we are lifting our mask requirement, but we will continue our indoor masking mandate for our staff and participants in the Early Childhood Development Center and our after-school clubhouse program,” JCC spokesperson Fara Marcus told the Chronicle. “With that being said, those at risk of contracting COVID-19 or who would feel more comfortable wearing a mask indoors are encouraged to do so.”

JCC’s vaccination policy, which requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination for those aged 5 and older, remains in effect, Marcus said.

As of Feb. 28, Hillel Academy responded to the drop in COVID-19 cases by going “mask-optional,” said Rabbi Sam Weinberg, who heads the school. The policy applies both indoors and outdoors, though the school intends to continue practicing social distancing where feasible.

“We are excited to see our students’ beautiful smiling faces,” Weinberg told the Chronicle.

At Community Day School, effective March 2, masks are optional while outdoors on campus. Physical distancing in classrooms and shared spaces also will no longer be required, except while unmasked indoors for any reason, like eating or drinking, Head of School Avi Munro said.

“Due to the ineligibility of children under age 5 to be vaccinated, these policy changes do not yet apply to Early Childhood students or staff, while supervising their students,” Munro said in an email to CDS parents. “We feel we can take these steps because we have reached declining levels of community transmission and hospitalizations in Allegheny County, the positive rate for students and staff on campus also continues to drop, and [we have] 100% vaccination of eligible CDS students and staff.

“We know there are families who will choose to have their children continue to wear masks outdoors — and staff who will do the same — and we expect a safe and judgment-free environment here at CDS for these individuals,” she added. “Throughout the pandemic, we have proceeded with careful intention to help protect the physical and emotional well-being of everyone in our school community. We will continue to move with caution every step of the way as we evaluate relaxing other mitigation efforts on campus.”

In the meantime, Yeshiva Schools has not announced any changes in its masking policy, according to CEO Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum.

“We didn’t change any of our medical policies, but we have had zero cases,” Rosenblum said. “School is more regular … but the medical committee will look at everything at its next meeting.” PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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