These past months have been challenging to us as individuals and as a community. One of the casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic has been our ability to plan ahead with any amount of certainty. Yet, summer is quickly approaching and we need to plan for a safe and productive summer for our students. Summer programming for school age students is often the domain of non-school entities such as camping organizations, JCCs and private operators. This year, many communities don’t have any concrete answer as to whether the authorities will allow them to operate regular overnight and day camps. Even if these can open, they will have many restrictions, and if there is a case amongst the campers or staff, it will lead to a partial or complete shutdown of the program.
This all begs the question: what is expected of the community’s educators? Is it fair or wise to expect schools to take this on when they need the summer break to regroup and take a break from these hectic and exhausting last three months?
In the recent CoJDS survey of principals, 36% reported that they intend to provide summer programming for their students. What they have in mind varies but many will certainly offer a form of remote programming. The Consortium wants to help us use our collective resources and ideas to make this programming as rich and meaningful as possible while keeping the financial costs and the workload reasonable by creating an economy of scale.
In truth, this summer challenge really creates an opportunity to cross pollinate talent and content in a way that would be much more palatable to schools and parents. During the school year, few schools wanted to use content developed by others and there was even reluctance to have the school’s own staff split up the curriculum among themselves. During the summer there is probably less concern that parents and students will be disappointed if their teacher isn’t teaching them all of their subjects.
I would like to put up some considerations that you may find helpful in planning for a summer program if that is what you intend to do.
The Consortium is very interested in creating a cohort of communities and schools that can leverage their expertise, planning capacity and programs so that this summer can be one of safety, productivity and fun. Please join the conversation so that you can both benefit and contribute. Currently there is a Google doc which you can view and comment here.
Avrohom S. Moller, MA Ed, has been a school teacher and administrator for 29 years. He is currently the Superintendent of the Associated Talmud Torahs, Chicago’s central agency for Orthodox Day Schools. He is fascinated by how learning happens and the supports which are necessary for effective learning systems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.