JCYS is currently open and operating our core early childhood education programs.

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. 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 in Phase 4 of Restore Illinois.

Hours, Programs, and Waitlist Q&As

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

JCYS is open from 8:30 am until 4:30 pm. These hours 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 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 the new stricter DCFS and IDPH guidelines.

We are making every effort to keep the children’s exposure to the staff at a minimum. DCFS has mandated 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 new policy of limited hours, your children will only be exposed to the same 3 staff members each day.

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!

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 since all of this began 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.

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:

We are offering full-day and half-day early childhood education 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. Full-day schedules will run from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.  Half-day schedules 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 (suburban centers only), and 5-day half- and full-day programs.

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

What programs will 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.

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.

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 at 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
A full classroom of 3 half-days 3 full-days
3 full-days

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.

Classroom Q&As

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
George W. Lutz (Highland Park) and Northwest (Buffalo Grove) Family Center: Classrooms
  • Who will the teachers be? Almost all of 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.
Iris & Steven Podolsky (Lincoln Square Ravenswood) and Michael R. Lutz (Wicker Park) Family Center: Classrooms
  • Who will the teachers be? Almost all of 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.

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 is following the Emergency Travel Order for the city of Chicago. The list will be updated every Tuesday and go into effect the following Friday at 12:01 a.m. To check out the most current list of states requiring a quarantine, click here.

If a parent or a caregiver travels to one of the listed states, s/he won’t be able to come into the building for 14 days from the time of last contact within the identified state.

If a child travels to one of the listed states, s/he won’t be able to participate in programming for 14 days from the time of last contact within the identified state.

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 are highlighted in our financial policy.

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.

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 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.

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 will eating at JCYS be 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.

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

What about tuition?

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.

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

The Parent Financial Policy can be viewed here.

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?

The table below lays out the billing cycle and the payment cycle:

Billing Cycle Payment Cycle
Fall/Spring Only Full Year
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

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.

Can I register now and wait until 1-2 months after the Fall preschool session begins to start my child?

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: