We are delighted to share that JCYS will resume our core programs on July 20, 2020! We cannot wait to open our doors again so we can see your children’s lovely faces and get back to providing them with our programs and our love to support their early childhood development.

We hope the below answer your questions and provide you with information that will help guide your decisions in sending your child(ren) back to JCYS when we reopen. Like all decisions about health and safety, this one needs to take into consideration your family and its unique situation. The information below includes the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) regulations and guidelines for all licensed Early Childhood Centers opening in Phases 3 and 4 of Restore Illinois.

Hours, Programs, and Waitlist Q&As

What hours will JCYS be open? What will a typical day look like?

JCYS will be open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. These new hours will allow us to staff the rooms appropriately and consistently until the current circumstances have changed and we can go back to safely combining classrooms. We know this new, less flexible schedule will not easily suit all of your schedules. We are doing this because we believe this is the way that we can best keep your children and their teachers safe while we navigate the new stricter DCFS and IDPH guidelines.

Social and emotional growth is a huge focus of JCYS programming. Even with an active pandemic, we will continue to provide every child with exciting activities to keep them learning and engaged!

Is there a possibility that the hours will be expanded? 8:30 am - 4:30 pm just isn’t enough to cover our family’s needs.

8:30 am to 4:30 pm is our intended schedule for the entire summer and upcoming school year. One thing we have learned from the last four months is that things can change so quickly that we can’t be certain that any decision about this coming year is ever final. But our current plan for the full year is 8 hours a day, from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and you should not rely on the possibility that we might change things.

We considered this decision for a long time because we know that it will be untenable for some of you. It is terribly disheartening for us that we will not be able to provide the same level of support for all our families this coming year as usual, and we understand that it will cause some of you to seek alternate solutions for your children. However, this is what we believe we will be able to handle successfully, both educationally and from a health perspective both for your children and our staff.

How will drop-off work?

Because access to each of our centers is different, you will hear more from your center about the specifics. There will be some staggered start times (full-days versus half-days) to reduce back-up. We will have additional staff at each entrance to not only greet and welcome you and your children, but to help facilitate all of the temperature checking, family health check-in, and other additional procedures that are being implemented.

One of the principles of decision making in uncertain times is to make sure you are “directionally correct.” Because there is so much new, we will be doing what we think is best.  If, as things go on, we see ways to improve these new processes, we will quickly implement those improvements. Together, we will make this work!

What programs will be offered at JCYS and when?

Our determination of which programs to offer and which to suspend for this year was made with exceedingly careful consideration of recommendations by the CDC, IDPH, DCFS, and the Community Foundation for Jewish Education of the JUF to do everything we can do to protect the health and safety of all our children, as well as our teachers and other staff.  With that in mind, we offer the following programs:

Full-day and half-day Sunflower Camp and Lil’ North early childhood sessions are available.  Camp will run from Monday, July 20, 2020 through Friday, August 14, 2020.  Full-day sessions will run from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.  Half-day sessions will run from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.  Assuming there is sufficient enrollment, we will continue to offer 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day half- and full-day programs.

For those of you whose children enrolled in a camp that is not being offered, they can participate in either of these options.  Just let us know.

We will be offering full-day and half-day early childhood sessions for the school year, as well.  All our other core program schedules are subsumed into these two schedules.  There is no change to the school year calendar. Fall session will run from Monday, August 17, 2020, through Friday, December 18, 2020.  The spring session will run from Monday, January 4, 2021, through Friday, June 4, 2021. Full-day sessions will run from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.  Half-day sessions will run from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.  Assuming there is sufficient enrollment, we will continue to offer 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, and 5-day half- and full-day programs.

Additionally, those centers that offer Lunch Bunch will continue to do so.

What programs will be not be offered at JCYS this year?

Sadly, to stay within classroom size requirements and limit the number of people coming in and out of our centers, we will not have any school-aged programs this year.  That includes before- and after-school care, School’s Out Days, winter, or spring break programs. We regret that we will not be able to serve these children or their families this year and look forward to a time when we will be able to reopen these programs.

Separate enrichment offerings will also be cancelled this year to make sure we are maintaining DCFS requirements to not mingle classrooms.

What will camp and Fall/Spring Session look like?

Your Center will have sample schedules available at the end of June, so you can see what early childhood programming looks like in a time of coronavirus.

George W. Lutz (Highland Park) and Northwest (Buffalo Grove) Family Center: I don’t see my child’s program listed in what you sent us on June 19. What do we do?

We will reach out to you directly to determine whether you want to move to full- or half-day programming, as available for your child’s age group.  You should hear from us within the next week.

George W. Lutz (Highland Park) and Northwest (Buffalo Grove) Family Center: I have heard that Kinder Concepts is pivotal to prepare kids for kindergarten, but it is not being offered this year. How do I make sure my child can garner the benefit of that program?

The material covered in Kinder Concepts is vital in preparing children for kindergarten. The elements that have historically been covered in Kinder Concepts will be brought into the pre-k program so children can still work on those important building blocks.

What if a program is full?

DCFS classroom size requirements for this year reduce our overall maximum capacity by over 40%.  In fact, it constrains us to almost 70 fewer children than we have educated in any of the last three years across all four of our centers.  So, it is possible that we will have to turn families away this year.

The first thing to note is that the first 30 days of opening (equating to our summer session) are somewhat more restrictive in terms of capacity than after that.  So it may be the case that some families may not be able to send their children in July, but will be able to send them once the fall session starts.

In the event we have more demand for any specific program than we have capacity at your center, we will determine if there might be availability in one of our nearby centers.  We geo-mapped addresses of all families currently registered, and there is a small handful of families for whom both our suburban centers or both our city centers are about equidistant.  This might serve as a potential solution for a small number of families.

Having said that, though, because this has the potential to be a problem, we want to be transparent about how we will prioritize classroom enrollment.  Note that, within the priority list below, we will first give priority to current families before opening to new families.

For City Centers  For Suburban Centers
Registration in both summer and fall/spring Registration in both summer and fall/spring
A full classroom of 5 half-days 5 full-days
5 full-days 4 full-days
4 full-days 3 full-days
A full classroom of 3 half-days
3 full-days

*  Even if your child’s camp was cancelled for this year, their initial registration will count, just as if they were attending camp.

If we do not have sufficient enrollment to have a minimum of 6 children in a classroom, we may have to cancel that classroom.

We registered both our children—one for five full days and our younger one is only registered for 3 half days. It sounds like you aren’t giving priority to siblings, so that you might not enroll both our kids. Is that going to happen?

We will certainly prioritize siblings.  We couldn’t reflect that effectively in the table.  If for some reason, we are not able to enroll both of your children, we will reach out to you directly right away.

My child is on the waitlist. When will I hear anything?

For summer, we will start calling families on the waitlist no later than July 6.  That will give registered families time to make their final decisions so we will know what availability there might be.

For fall, we will begin calling families on the waitlist by July 27.  We hope to be able to begin this process a week prior but, because not all families may have been able to make final decisions by then, it is not certain that we will be able to start any sooner than July 27.

Classroom Q&As

How many children will be in each classroom? How many teachers will be with each classroom? Will these classrooms always be together?

Per the new DCFS guidelines, during Phase 3 we will only be able to accommodate classrooms of 8 Infants and Toddlers and groups of 10 for ages 2 – 4. After 30 days, and throughout Phase 4, we will only be able to have classrooms of 8 Infants and Toddlers, classrooms of 12 for age 2, and groups of 15 for ages 3 – 4. With each classroom, we will have 2 consistent teachers assigned and have 1 or 2 substitute teachers shared between 2 classrooms. The classrooms will always be together and will not be able to interact with any other classrooms throughout the day at any time. There will be separate outside times and gym times.

When will we get confirmation of our child’s classroom enrollment?

We are currently working on the information we have received from our families letting us know your intentions for summer and fall registration.  If you have not yet given us your confirmation regarding summer and fall, please do so.  If we do not receive word from you we will assume that you wish to remain registered and you will receive a statement with your balance due for summer. We anticipate finalizing summer assignments by July 2 and fall by July 16.

George W. Lutz (Highland Park) and Northwest (Buffalo Grove) Family Center: Classrooms
  • Who will the teachers be? We hope that almost all our teachers will return this coming year. For returning children, we know it will be comforting to see familiar faces. And for you, we know it will be comforting to see individuals in whom you already have great confidence. Our goal is that the children will be welcomed back by the same teachers with whom they will be spending the school year. Transition back to school this year will probably be more difficult than it is in “normal” years, and we want to minimize as much transition as possible when returning to JCYS.
  • Are you adding more classrooms/teachers? We will only be able to have as many classes as we have classrooms for. The teachers will be responsible for their classroom and we will have assigned floating substitutes that will be available daily and help in 2 consistent classrooms.
  • Friend/Teacher Requests – We will do our best to accommodate friend requests and place children where they will be most comfortable. We will be basing classrooms on children’s schedules and space and doing our best to accommodate as many families as we can. Friendship and teacher requests will be considered but will not be guaranteed.
  • What is the teacher response to coming back? We are beyond lucky to have the most amazing, dedicated, and loving teachers! The majority from whom we’ve heard tell us they cannot wait to get back and prepare for reopening. Many of the teachers meet with the Leadership Team, play BINGO, and chat each week. This is an incredibly strong team and their positivity and kindness will show through all the steps that we are taking to reopen.
Iris & Steven Podolsky (Lincoln Square Ravenswood) and Michael R. Lutz (Wicker Park) Family Center: Classrooms
  • Who will the teachers be? We hope that almost all our teachers will return this coming year. For returning children, we know it will be comforting to see familiar faces. And for you, we know it will be comforting to see individuals in whom you already have great confidence. Our goal is that the children will be welcomed back by the same teachers with whom they will be spending the school year. Transition back to school this year will probably be more difficult than it is in “normal” years, and we want to minimize as much transition as possible when returning to JCYS.
  • Are you adding more classrooms/teachers? We will only be able to have as many classes as we have classrooms for. The teachers will be responsible for their classroom and we will have assigned floating substitutes that will be available daily and help in 2 consistent classrooms.

Protocols, PPE, and Other COVID-19 Related Q&As

How are you going to make sure no one with COVID-19 enters the center?

Keeping COVID-19 out of our building will require a partnership between all our families and JCYS. We are committed to doing everything in our control to keep COVID-19 from entering our centers. That includes:

  • All our staff will be told that, if they are not feeling well, they should stay at home. We will have permanent substitutes this year to make sure rooms will be consistently staffed by a very small group of the same people every day.
  • All staff will have their temperatures taken every day before entering the building. If they have a fever, they will be sent home.
  • All staff will certify that no one in their household has COVID-19.
  • All children will have their temperatures checked and parents will be interviewed about the health status of everyone in the household prior to them bringing their children into the center.
  • We will be minimizing access to our centers by vendors and will be requiring appropriate PPE for those who have to enter the center.

Of course, this will also require families to continue to keep children home when they are not feeling well or when there is a possibility of having been exposed to COVID.

How will JCYS be monitoring children and staff for illness?

Upon arrival each day, all people entering our facility will have their foreheads scanned to ensure a temperature under 100.4. These temperatures will be recorded. Anyone who has a temperature of 100.4 or greater will not be permitted into the program and will have to be fever free without fever-reducing medication for 72 hours to return. Additional days that children will have to stay home when ill will be communicated in our updated Family Handbook.

What if a child becomes sick while at JCYS?

Children will be isolated from their class with a staff member until picked up within a one-hour timeframe. The child will have to remain at home until they are healthy and for the time specified in the updated Family Handbook.

What if someone at the center, or a within a household tests positive for COVID -19?

If someone at the center, within a household, or if there has been definite exposure to COVID-19 in relation to someone at our center, we will immediately call the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and report the incident and exposure. At that time, IDPH will instruct us with next steps and how to handle the situation. We will then follow all IPDH measures and instructions and notify DCFS and families accordingly. Refunds due to COVID-19 closings will be highlighted in our new financial policy, which will be available in the near future.

Will masks/face coverings be required?

Per DCFS, face coverings will be required for everyone 2 years and older entering our school and must be provided by JCYS. DCFS guidelines for the classroom require that children who are 2 years and older wear face coverings throughout the day and only remove them to eat, nap, and play outside. Social distancing will be enforced as best as possible when outside. Teachers will always wear face coverings unless they are outside.

What will happen if my child won’t wear their mask/face covering?

Each of our JCYS Early Childhood programs is regulated and licensed by the DCFS. It is a DCFS licensing requirement for schools that children aged 2 and older wear a mask or face covering. We understand that it may be difficult for children to wear a mask while in their classrooms and have ordered and explored other options such as face shields. As a licensed program, we must follow the DCFS regulations. JCYS will provide masks and face shields for staff and children and these are the face coverings that must be worn and left at school. Children 2 years and older must wear face coverings during the school day except when eating or napping, and we will do our best to help the children keep their face coverings in place. Please know that when children are entering or leaving the building, children can wear face coverings from home and store them with their belongings. Prior to the start of school, we will send families social stories, books, pictures of their teachers wearing masks, and additional resources to help make this easier for each child.

How will JCYS observe social distancing?

One of the most important educational aspects of our programs is children’s socialization. Our teachers will do their best to enforce safe distances within the classrooms. JCYS is working on purchasing dividers for our tables, bathrooms (where applicable), and other places to distance children. According to DCFS, all cribs and cots will be placed at least 6 feet apart during nap time. Classrooms will be distanced and never combined. Possible staggering of drop off and pick up times will keep our hallway areas less crowded and allow for safe distancing.

What are the cleaning protocols?

Outside each classroom, we will provide antibacterial hand sanitizer. Children and staff will continue to practice and observe safe handwashing practices. Throughout the day, all door handles, and high-touch points will be cleaned. All cleaning practices will continue to be observed within the classrooms. In addition, we will ask that children do not bring in any additional toys or lovies into the classroom. Blankets that can stay at school will be stored in their inside cubbies. All persons entering our school will have to remove their shoes or wear shoe coverings which will be provided. Children will have to have a pair of shoes that they will keep at school and change into each day when they arrive. These shoes will be worn throughout the day and then will be changed by the parents at pick up to their “home shoes.” There will be 30 minutes between each classroom’s use of outdoor areas per DCFS.

How will eating at JCYS be handled?

At this time, we will not be allowing any food brought into the building for any classroom other than our infants. It is our hope that the caterers that we have used in the past will continue to serve our schools. As we continue to learn more, we will let you know.

What is the protocol for the infant/toddler rooms?

Our infant and toddler teachers will be following the same protocols put into place by DCFS, however, we are aware that there will be much closer person-to-person contact. Teachers will be wearing face masks, gloves, and aprons for the protection of your children and for their protection. We will continue to love and nurture each child in our care. Through our PPE, we will still convey love, comfort, and care to our youngest children at JCYS, just as we will for every child in each of our programs. Throughout the day, our teachers will be continuously disinfecting the classroom and will take out and sanitize all objects that the babies and toddlers put into their mouths. In addition, all cribs will be placed at a distance of 6 feet from one another.

  • What will infant ratios be? Will children be able to go on stroller rides? As always, JCYS prides itself on providing the best infant care and the best ratios. We will continue to do better than DCFS requires and our infant ratios will not be compromised when we are able to reopen. At this time, stroller rides will be an obstacle as there will be no way to observe social distancing within the strollers.

Deposits, Refunds, Tuition, and Financial Policies Q&As

What about tuition?

For summer camps, tuition will be the equivalent of one month of camp tuition (i.e., half of the prior cost for the summer).  There is no change to the full-day or half-day tuitions.  For those families whose programs (early pick-up, etc.) are being folded into full- or half-day programs, the tuition will be the full- or half-day tuition.  Those tuition schedules are on our website.

We understand that you may wonder why we are not reducing tuition since we are shortening our hours.  The reduction in the number of children we can have in each classroom drastically reduces our revenue, while expenses are relatively unchanged (there are some small savings in staffing and supplies, but it is not significant).  As a result, our costs per child are much higher than in prior years and, since we rely on tuition to cover almost 100% of center costs, we need to pass those costs on.

We just received a deposit refund check from JCYS. Does that mean my child isn’t enrolled for next year?

The refund checks that have been sent out over the last two weeks are the final refunds from last school year or school-age summer camps.  They have nothing to do with the upcoming preschool summer or fall/spring enrollment.

Financial Policies — Where can I find the 2020-21 Parent Financial Policy?

The Parent Financial Policy can be viewed here.

Financial Policies — What about deposit refunds if I'm afraid to send my child(ren) back?

Because of the extraordinary circumstances this year, we will be refunding registration fees. There is more detailed information about this in our Parent Financial Policy.

I’ve notified you of our withdrawal of our child. When will we receive our refund?

We are focused right now on opening our programs.  We will start processing refunds in July after camp has opened.

Financial Policies — What about COVID closures during the upcoming school year?

The COVID-19 pandemic presents such significant hardship for our families that we developed a policy to distinguish between COVID related closures and other illness or emergency closures. These COVID-related policies are designed to do the best we can to ease the burden to families while still ensuring we can continue to stay open.  We recognize this will still be difficult for some of our families.  We are doing what we can to support both our families and pay our fixed costs including, to the degree possible, our teachers.  The new policy is summarized below:

Closure Duration Tuition Discounts/Credits
Two weeks or less None
From two weeks to two months No refund or credit for the first two weeks, 60% credit for the remainder of the period
Longer than two months After the first two months, 100% discount until reopening
What is the billing and payment schedule this year?

Because of our abnormal schedule this year, the summer and fall/spring billing cycles get a bit “crunched up.”  We understand that having to pay for both the summer and the first month’s payment for fall at the same time may be too much of a hurdle for families.  So, we will make accommodations for families to try to ease the crunch.  The table below lays out the billing cycle and the payment cycle:

Billing Cycle Payment Cycle
Summer-Only Fall/Spring Only Full Year
Camp By June 26, 2020 July 1, 2020 July 1, 2020
1st Payment By June 26, 2020 July 1, 2020 July 22, 2020
2nd Payment August 1, 2020 August 12, 2020
3rd Payment August 15, 2020 September 1, 2020 September 1, 2020
4th Payment September 15, 2020 October 1, 2020 October 1, 2020
5th Payment October 15, 2020 November 1, 2020 November 1, 2020
6th Payment November 15, 2020 December 1, 2020 December 1, 2020
7th Payment December 15, 2020 January 1, 2021 January 1, 2021
8th Payment January 15, 2021 February 1, 2021 February 1, 2021
9th Payment February 15, 2021 March 1, 2021 March 1, 2021
10th Payment March 15, 2021 April 1, 2021 April 1, 2021

Other Q&As

We thought camp was going to open on July 6. Now you’re saying it’s July 20. What happened?

We announced earlier that we would open no earlier than July 6.  As we continued to put all our planning into practice and saw how much we needed to do in advance of opening in order to assure a successful opening for your children, we determined that July 20 would help us make sure everything would be put in place in time.

What if I'm not sure yet about sending my child?

If you were not able to answer the confirmation question by the June 23 deadline, do not worry. The reason we established the June 23 deadline was that we need to start sending out bills. For families who already knew for certain that they will be withdrawing their children, we can then make sure we don’t issue them bills. So, if you didn’t complete the question yesterday, it simply means that you will receive a bill.

Please share your concerns with us if you haven’t already. We understand that there still may be too many unresolved issues for you to decide yet. We are here for you and will work with you to support your decision. You can reach out to:

I already sent you an email telling you I was taking my child out of their program.

Please go to this link—MyProcare—and cancel your summer and/or fall registration in Procare.


We are sure that the need this year for financial support for some of our families will be greater than ever. Unfortunately, the donations that we rely on for funding scholarships have declined at the same time. We will have very limited scholarships available for all centers.