How Will We Open The Schools….We will do it….Together!
By Morah Elana Fertig
Director, Hollander Early Childhood Center
As the doors open to our school buildings this year, there will be a heavy competition of who is more excited, the children, the teachers or the parents. Unanimously we have all been awaiting a ‘sense of normalcy’ and we are all excited to go back to our school buildings.
Yes, we are hesitant and nervous (in different amounts) but we are all ready to get this year started.
As the summer began Administrators and Principals from all over the world, were eager to open their schools, (if we were given permission) but as pages and pages of regulations came out from every different direction, I found myself thinking, so many words…that say so little.
As the summer went on, schools began to troubleshoot, plan, guess, and more. While our summers are usually a time for creating classes, ordering supplies and planning for additional programs, suddenly there was a feeling of…How do I open my school? Principals who have worked for so many years, found themselves feeling unsure.
At one point, I said…”I’m just going to hide under my bed…find me at the end of the summer, when there is a plan.”
Principals and Administrators needed to remind themselves…..we care about children and families, we have been leading schools for year, WE CAN DO THIS! More than anything else, we know that achieved the impossible that we would never imagine over the last few months…we can definitely handle the next part…together.
So then this happened, Networks were formed, officially or not officially, meetings took place among Executive Directors, Menahelim, Principals, Early Childhood Directors, Nurses and more. The Schools in the Five Towns worked together, as we have in the past. Just as we leaned on each other for help during Hurricane Sandy and during other major tragedies and events that have effected our neighborhood, we worked together to help each other. The schools, shared ideas, advice, and sometimes just gave each other chizuk that each of us were equally unsure and confused.
This reminded me that way back in March when we switched to “virtual school” everyone had to come out of their comfort zone. Learning how to teach over zoom, keeping children interested, being comfortable knowing parents were watching, taking care of our own children too, running schools from our dining room and helping parents who were having a hard time coping.
Amongst everything else, I was fascinated but not surprised by this piece. As soon as a teacher learned something new (how to share a screen, break out rooms, create a montage), teachers were now ready to teach other teachers how to do his too. After all we are teachers and that’s what we do, but more than that we helped each other. Everyone rose up, everyone stepped out of their comfort zone…and everyone learned at least one thing that they did not know before. Then we shared these ides with other schools in the five towns, the tri state are and around the world.
I think the Adminstrators and Principals of school deserve a complete Yasher Koach for filtering through those millions of papers this summer, and coming up with real, doable safe plans to open our school. (and they deserve and all expense paid vacation )
Rabbeim and Teachers were the super heros here, taking on new challenges, ‘upping their game’ learning new things, and still showing their love to their students from afar while juggling everything else.
Parents—we are all very thankful to parents for their patience this summer. Every conversation I had with a parent this summer, was one of understanding…that we are all confused, uncertain and that soon there will be a plan.
But as we will open our school’s together it is so important that parents work together with their schools as a team…now more then ever.
It is about Honesty, and Respectfulness and taking care of our neighbors and community.
As we have put in all these precautions, they will only work if we can keep the virus out of our neighborhood and schools to the best of our ability.
WHAT PARENTS CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR SCHOOLS OPEN AND SAFE
I have often told parent this concept: There are days when we adults “Don’t feel like ourselves”. We don’t feel great, but we have a job to do and so we will get through the day, knowing that we may not be “at the top of our game’. Children (especially preschoolers) cannot tell you…”I am not myself today”….they may just feel tired and sluggish as they are brewing something…and they are not really able to enjoy their day, ( and might even act out) In addition if they are brewing something, they are already sharing it with the other students in the class, and it is safer for everyone if they stay home.
Every principal and a nurse, have many stories, where a child has come to them with a fever at 12PM, and casually mentions the spoon full of red drink their mother gave them this morning.
• Be Honest- If your child is sick, do not send them to school.
• If you travel to a state that is on the list of places that you need to quarantine- tell the school.
• If someone in your house has the virus, let the school know.
• It might not be corona, but if your child is sick with somethingelse, they are still sick (and can infect others).
• Plan to have an emergency contact who can pick up your child, when you are not available. The person needs to be available, plan to have a back up to your emergency contact too.
• Be respectful of our friends and neighbors. If C’V there is a case in our schools we will need to know for tracing purposes, so that we can quarantine a class or a cohort. As parents we do not need to know every detail, or to speak about the family.
• If the school or teacher is questioning, (that your child should not be at school today) trust them, and remember this is to protect everyone.
• Prepare yourself mentally, your child may be home from school more days then you want them too, but remember how many days we all had to be home last yaer.
• Your extra safety precaution (keeping them home when you are not sure) will help keep our schools stay open
• If you are unsure, call your doctor.
Looking forward to a safe, healthy and wonderful year.