While there is an array of COVID-19 related emotions we have been experiencing for the past half year, we now are entering a new phase and spectrum of thoughts instigated by the return to school. Trending statements on social media, the news, and street life have included “How I wish we could return to real school”, “Staying home is the right thing to do”, “Either cancel school 100%, or go back 100%”, “We are zoomed out”, “We have headaches and heartaches”, and “Yay, the children are stimulated, educated by teachers, and have a reason to get out of bed”. In our own religious school circumstance, I’ll quote this encouraging statement from one of our families: “When the world shut down, Temple Beth David religious school was of the first to provide a quality educational experience that we are looking forward to returning to”.
With a third of the world’s population affected by the 1918 influenza, studies from the Spanish Flu pandemic show the same rollercoaster of emotions that society then underwent with regards to schooling. The ups and downs were notably observed amongst the parent demographic who like us, were concerned with education amidst a crisis. Using personal accounts of the virus experiencing parent and child will help us help ourselves, as we learn from history, and try to provide the very best for our school children. Ultimately, if our children are catered for with the right foot forward, our own rollercoaster will slowly settle, because let’s face it, we are here to provide and place our children at the forefront.
We learn from history that education can dynamically shift. Our religious school families, for example, support the education within the Reform movement. As we send our children to day schools, we should be prepared that schools too are reinventing themselves in light of the pandemic. One particular phenomenon during last century’s pandemic was that of increased volunteerism and social engagement amongst school aged children. School assignments were sent home, were naturally less monitored, and the shift then gravitated towards the curriculum resembling that of Temple Beth David religious school. There was a progression from the academic towards the social, that I suspect will be mirrored in schools today. As this article suggests, schools focused on pandemic related children’s chores, from preparing food for the sick, responsibility for sanitizing and disinfecting, health and mental health, looking after younger siblings, and a general shift towards civic duties.
Temple Beth David’s educational commitment make enrolling to Temple Beth David religious school more fitting than ever due to our current COVID-19 circumstances. We are in need of caring for the sick, in desperation for socio-civic engagement (as we saw in Black Lives Matter), helping around the house with chores, caring for the vulnerable and elderly and, when the world is socially distant, it is our responsibility not to Al Tifrosh Min Hatzibur, marginalize ourselves from society, but bring about the community loving kindness Temple Beth David stands for!