Baltimore, MD - Sept. 25, 2020 - The hanhala of Bais Yaakov Baltimore has just sent the following email to its parent body:
Dear Bais Yaakov Parents and Staff,
During these Aseres Yimei Teshuva, we express endless gratitude to the Ribbono Shel Olam for enabling Bais Yaakov to once again welcome our students to our campuses and buildings. Much care, effort and expense went into preparing our school to reopen and stay open under medical guidance and government regulations. We are so fortunate that the sounds of Torah and Tefilah are once again being heard in the classrooms of Bais Yaakov.
There has been much discussion about plans for after Succos. The obvious concern is that with everyone being home and possible visitors or travel, and the nature of Yom Tov itself, what will be the status of the health of our students and staff upon returning to school? There is also a specific concern regarding large gatherings over Yom Tov such as Simchas Torah, and how they may impact the spread of COVID in the community. Together, these present the risk of potentially sick students or staff members coming to school in the days following Yom Tov, and the increased likelihood of closures in the following weeks. Our goal is to take actions to minimize the risk of infection spread and avoid closures as much as possible while understanding the tremendous value and need of our girls being physically present in school.
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After much discussion with our Rabbanim, physicians, and other community schools, we have come to the following plan which we believe strikes the right balance. We were scheduled to start school after Yom Tov on Tuesday, 10/13. Instead, we will begin on that date in distance learning mode for the duration of the week through Friday, October 16th. The following Monday, October 19th, we will IY”H begin in-person instruction at school. We will continue to monitor the COVID status in our community in case a change to the current plan becomes necessary. Each division will communicate with you after Yom Tov with instructions regarding distance learning.
During the week of distance learning, it is important that if students or staff develop any COVID symptoms, they should make sure to follow all recommended medical guidance to avoid any spread and contact the school at BYCovidInfo@baisyaakov.net. That week is also not the time to get together with friends, as the main purpose of the delayed in-person start, is so that potentially sick students do not infect others in school. By getting together at home we will have defeated the purpose of the delayed opening. Additionally, lengthening the duration of your out of state travel will defeat the purpose of the delayed start as well.
Succos is always such an enjoyable Yom Tov, and we encourage each family to take advantage of zman simchasainu and enjoy Yom Tov fully. However, at the same time, we must realize that COVID-19 is still very much present, and we must act responsibly. We would like to mention some important points to keep in mind as we plan for Yom Tov.
· If you are going away from home or hosting guests, please do so responsibly and sensibly. Please make sure to ask your hosts or guests if anyone in the family has COVID-19 or is feeling sick. If you have any questions, please make sure to get proper guidance.
· Please choose your Chol Hamoed outings wisely.
· Please continue to wear masks in shul, public places or any large gatherings.
· And, most importantly, if you are not feeling well and have COVID-19 symptoms please make sure not to expose others. Our best defense against spread is by each and every individual, adult or child, being vigilant to stay home if they feel sick.
We are thankful to the Ribbono Shel Olam that we are in a position where we can have a beautiful Yom Tov even while being responsible and careful. However, the decisions that we make over Yom Tov will directly impact whether Bais Yaakov can open for in-person classes after Yom Tov, and continue to stay open in the weeks thereafter. If we all do our part, then we can daven to Hashem that we will have the siyata dishmaya to do what we know is best for us and our children- learning in school with our teachers and friends.
With best wishes for a G’mar Chasima Tova and a joyous and wonderful Yom Tov,
Rabbi Yitzchok Sanders
Principal, Lower Elementary School
Rabbi Yochanon Stein
Principal, Upper Elementary School
Rabbi Naftoli Hexter
Principal, Middle School
Rabbi Yechezkel Zweig
Principal, High School
Dr. Yoel Jakobovits
Chairman, Vaad HaChinuch
Moshe Dov Shurin
Rabbi Zalman Nissel
Chief Executive Officer