Scenario Planning Worksheet

Knowledge Topics
Professional Leadership, School Policies and Procedures
Network to Learn
Deepening Talent

Scenario Planning Process
for Jewish Day School Leaders

How do we plan for opening in the fall? 
Please be in touch with Rachel Dratch or Amy Wasser  to suggest additional resources and pose new questions.

STEP 1: What are the goals? This needs to be clear and empowering and easy to recall. It will also keep us on the same page with shared language and goals. We are reinventing what school is in practice while protecting the story of who we are and why we do what we do.

What are our key priorities? This may seem obvious, but it is a crucial first step in this process and worth spending the time on now.

Getting clear on our key values will help us determine what we must do and how we can experiment, and what we need to prioritize. For example, is our key value providing a rigorous academic education? Providing a warm and deep connection to Judaism? Fostering independent thinking? Whatever your key values and goals are, you need to be clear so that when you determine what your options are and share them, your choices are rooted in values and stay true to your culture and community.

Many schools have created a task force to work on these plans. It is imperative that this group articulate the goals so the school community understands why they made their decisions (even if they do not agree).


Key values for us when deciding schedule possibilities 







STEP 2: Framing the Challenge:  What practical, technical matters do we need to know in order to make these decisions about how we plan to open in the fall? We need to clarify what we know, what we don’t know, what we are able to learn now and what we may not know for some time.


What we do know

What we do not know --but need to know

How can we find out this information?

Can we find it out in the next week or two?

Rules for opening the building in our area


Teacher capacity

(hours, skills)


Student needs


Parent needs


Building needs


Tech needs


Specific questions for your specific school


STEP 3: Defining Critical Uncertainties (see chart above- last column)

  • Under the category of “what we do not know,”  try to indicate how likely it is that we can know this information correctly in the coming 1-2 weeks.

STEP 4: Information Gathering - use your chart above and fill it in.

Get clear on: What do we need to find out and how will we find out the key information we need? This might be done via a Google form or survey, by a virtual meeting or through one-on-one calls. Establish a plan, and create a clear process and deadline by which this information is needed. Make sure it is clear why you are asking these questions.

  • Guidelines and rules from state, local, national authorities concerning health and safety
  • Teacher’s capacity: hours, skills, availability to enter the building
  • Parents’ needs and capacity: hours, skills and availability
  • Students’ needs: physical health, emotional health
  • Resources: physical (supplies), personnel (staff) and informational (training) 
  • Resources needed in order to:
    • Open the building
    • Teach classes remotely

STEP 5: Identifying Driving Forces

Now that we have clarity on our core values and the most up to date information possible and we can begin to consider options, we need to ask one more thing: What are the key driving forces that will determine if we open the building, when, and how?

STEP 6: Generating Scenarios

  • List your assumptions at the top of your document. What are your givens?

Example: we assume a cure and a vaccine will not be ready by Sept. 1, and that we need to be prepared for possible remote learning again this year, anywhere from one week to many months and beyond.

  • Brainstorm many solutions and ultimately cut it down to 2-3 plans. Make sure to echo the language of your initial goals so that your decisions are clearly value-based and resonate with your school community. 





Student concerns 

Teacher concerns


We can return safely to the building in the fall.



We cannot return safely to the building in the fall.



We start in the building but need to return to remote learning later.



STEP 7: Communicating the plan: Naming and Validating the Scenarios- use the goals language when framing this. In this step you develop the language your team will use in sharing the plans and explain that there IS a plan and that peoples’ needs are being taken into account, and here is how...

  • In each scenario, outline the plan (e.g., the building can open, but we are so limited by physical distancing rules that we can only have 30 people in the building at once) so therefore….
  • This will help to provide shared language and messaging.

STEP 8: Signposts

  • Identify measures of success, and how you will determine when and how to tweak, adjust and even scrap the plan and implement another.

Based on