Perhaps more stressful than the COVID shutdown of virtually every institution and many businesses, and the de facto house arrest of millions, is figuring out what the future holds, especially as two events loom: the start of the new school year and the High Holidays. Principals, rabbis and other educational and synagogue leaders are scrambling and still scratching their heads.
Schools are coming up with different scenarios, ranging from in-person learning with COVID protocols such as masks and social distancing, to online or remote learning, to a hybrid of both.
When options are offered, parents are struggling with what is best for their children and families. In most cases, children learn best in a classroom setting in the presence of a teacher, but is it worth the risk of a child possibly being exposed to the virus and bringing it home to other family members? Is it worth the risk for teachers, too?
Regarding the High Holidays, we suspect there will be a variety of scenarios, from in-person services with social distancing and “bring your own machzor” — both inside and outside — to only online services and programming (Temple Emanuel’s choice). Or, congregations may offer a choice, which places the burden of decision on the individual or family.
People are basing their decisions on their health, personal tolerance for risk, need to make a living (COVID or no) and even their political leanings.
When this pandemic first invaded our lives, we realized that we would have to get through Passover in quarantine, but we didn’t dream we would have to consider sitting out High Holiday services. Often enough, we never really appreciate things until they’re taken away.
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