JCYS is currently open and operating our core early childhood education programs, and will be holding school-age camps this summer.

We hope the below answer your questions and provide you with information that will help guide your decisions. 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.

2021-22 Hours, Programs, and Classroom Q&As

What hours is JCYS open? What does a typical day look like?

For 2021 summer programs, all JCYS Family Centers are open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. These hours allow us to staff the rooms appropriately and consistently until the current circumstances. We know this new, less flexible schedule does not 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 DCFS and IDPH guidelines.

We are making every effort to keep the children’s exposure to the staff at a minimum. DCFS continues to mandate that all classrooms are “stable” cohorts that will not mix with other classrooms and are limited to one set of teachers throughout the day.  Classrooms will not be combined, and teachers will not be shared between rooms.  With our limited hours, your children will only be exposed to the same 3 staff members each day.

For 2021-22 school year programs, all JCYS Family Centers will be open from 7:30 am until 5:00 pm.

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

How does drop-off work?

There are staggered start times (full-day versus half-day) to reduce back-up. We 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.

What programs are being offered at JCYS this school year 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:

We are offering early childhood education camps during the summer. We are also offering two school-age camp programs: JCYS North Suburban Day Camp in Buffalo Grove (entering 1st – 6th grade) and Big City Day Camp in Chicago (entering Kindergarten – 8th grade).

We are offering full-day, half-day, and extended-day (select locations only) early childhood education for the school year.

What programs are not being offered at JCYS this school year?

Sadly, to stay within classroom size requirements and limit the number of people coming in and out of our centers, at this time we are not planning to 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.

How many children will be in each classroom? How many teachers will be with each classroom?

Per DCFS guidelines:

Ages Minimum Staff to Child Ratio Maximum Group Size (Children)
Infant 1:4 8
Toddler 1:5 12
Two 1:8 12
Three 1:10 15
Four 1:10 15

2021-22 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.

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 handbook and sick policy.

What about the Emergency Travel Order? What happens if we travel to one of the states on the list?

JCYS has adapted our Travel Guidelines Policy around the Emergency Travel Order for the city of Chicago.

The list is updated every Tuesday and goes into effect the following Friday at 12:01 am. To check out the most current list, click here.

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 contact the local health department. At that time, they will instruct us with next steps and how to handle the situation. We will then follow all measures and instructions and notify DCFS and families accordingly.

Are masks/face coverings required?

Per DCFS, face coverings are 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 and nap.

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 does 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. According to DCFS, all cribs and cots will be placed at least 6 feet apart during nap time. Classrooms are distanced and never combined.

What are the cleaning protocols?

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. There will be 30 minutes between each classroom’s use of outdoor areas per DCFS.

Additionally, as an added precaution and cleaning measure, we will be using an electrostatic sprayer once a week when no children or staff members are present. Electrostatic spray surface cleaning is the process of spraying an electrostatically charged mist onto surfaces and objects. Because the particles in the spray are positively charged, they cling to and coat any surface they’re aimed at. For awkwardly shaped objects or hard to reach places, cleaning staff only have to point and spray; the nature of the mist allows it to coat surfaces evenly, and envelope objects—even if the mist is only sprayed from one side. After the spray is applied, the sanitizing agent works to disinfect the covered surfaces.

How is eating at JCYS handled?

We continue to use the same catering service we used last year. We use a “no contact” food drop-off each morning. We have the children eat at opposite ends of the tables so they are appropriately distanced from one another.

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 and gloves for the protection of your children and for the protection of the staff. We will continue to love and nurture each child in our care. 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 and cots 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 hold ourselves to the JCYS standards. At this time, stroller rides will be replaced with short walks and outside play on our playground to maintain social distancing.

2021-22 Tuition and Financial Policies Q&As

Financial Policies — Where can I find the 2021-22 Parent Financial Policy?

The Parent Financial Policy can be viewed here.

Financial Policies — What about COVID closures?

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

Other Q&As

Can my child start at any point during the year?

JCYS has open enrollment and will accept your child at any time throughout the year. However please be aware that we will not be able to “hold” a spot for your child unless you pay the tuition to save that space.


We understand that many JCYS families are struggling financially due to COVID-19. Please note that our scholarship fund this year is very limited. Please email scholarships@jcys.org if you are interested in applying for a scholarship.

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!

Please share your concerns with us if you haven’t already. We are here for you and will work with you to support your decision. You can reach out to: