I am writing this message on Tisha B’Av, the most solemn day of the Jewish calendar. And still, Megillat Eicha ends on a note of hope, "Return us to You, God, and let us return; renew our days as of old."
This has been a trying few months for all of us as we adjust to new realities in our own lives and around the world. And yet we continue to look forward. We read of those working tirelessly to treat sick patients and to create a vaccine and right here in our little world, we have our administration who is working ceaselessly to bring our students back to school safely so that they can learn together in our joyful community.
So often you hear from me in the context of fundraising but this email is not that. I felt it was important to make visible to you all just how much is going on behind the scenes in order to make school possible, and to offer a public and heartfelt thank you to our leadership on behalf of the Board.
Preparing for this year has required significant additional work, expenses and flexibility as our leadership made many significant decisions in the last two months based on information that is still not fully clear. We are leasing an additional larger space, must staff each location appropriately, and are implementing new protocols and changes to the physical space so that we can minimize the risk of infection to our children and teachers. We are also creating an online program for students who cannot be in the classroom and offered a flexible tuition program for Gan students in the event we return to online school for a significant period of time. All of this was done with creativity, intentionality and a commitment to our values.
Usually, summer is a time of learning and planning for our school leadership. This year, in addition to those things our administrative team is also working to make numerous changes to prepare for a changed school year. We are grateful for the extra work and flexibility of our Director of Admissions, Rachel Feinerman and Director of Programs and Communication, Laura Kaler. Ingrid, Lisa and Shlomit are devoted to the evolving academic and social emotional needs of our children. They are preparing to train teachers in a trauma informed approach to school opening, are learning from our online experience to best plan for a possible return to online learning and creating a full classroom experience for those students who cannot return to the physical building. In addition, they looked at each child’s academic progress and ensured that each child is working on specifically the things they need to in order to be ready for September. Some students may be on track, others needed an additional boost. Our educational team worked with teachers to reflect on every student to determine whether that child needed support and if so, what work would be most useful so that children could prepare over the summer. I am grateful we have a team that cares so deeply about the educational trajectory of every student.
As you can well imagine, figuring out how to open school safely this year has been a Herculean task. Stephanie and Nicole have both waited for specific guidance from the CDC, from city and state governments, from our own medical advisory committee, from colleagues in the field and at the same time have had to create various scenarios and alternatives all while committed to being as transparent as possible with parents. This is no easy feat when clear guidelines have been so slow in coming (city guidelines were released just this week). There are a myriad of layers involved in making this year happen: securing additional space and all the legal and logistical work that entails, partnering with colleagues in the field and communal organizations to best respond to changes circumstances, in addition to ensuring that we comply with the best and most up to date medical and safety protocols. They are working to support teachers and students and families and to be responsive to families’ financial, educational and emotional concerns all while tending to their own families simultaneously.
We each are approaching this unprecedented school year with various priorities, concerns and questions. Please know that all of these matter greatly to the leadership of Beit Rabban. I am grateful for their profound level of care and concern and know that we all benefit from this deep well of empathy.
Thank you Ingrid. Thank you Lisa. Thank you Shlomit. Thank you Nicole. And thank you Stephanie.
The Shabbat after Tisha B’Av is known as Shabbat Nachamu, a Shabbat of comfort. May it be for all of us.