By Ann Pardes
If you’re like me, the environment around you serves as visual cues for the changing seasons. The rhythm of weather patterns, and the sights and the smells around me are all reminders of the time of year. But when I lived in Florida, there were really just two seasons—hot and hotter. The climate caused me to lose track of time. Likewise, I’ve had this same “time loss” here since mid-March.
In the spring, the days were a blur as we quickly tried to pivot in-person classes to virtual sessions. As you can imagine, teaching our littlest friends on platforms like Zoom was a continual challenge. Many of our staff had to learn an entirely new skill set, which has been both challenging and exciting. My sincere thanks to our teachers for always trying hard to check in with their students, while also providing entertaining and educational opportunities.
Fast forward to July and August when we made it our goal to safely plan for the return of our ECC students for the fall. Usually, this time is spent in a more leisurely way in thinking about any adjustments to enhance the ECC, but this year was different. Countless hours were spent with the COVID-19 Task Force and talking with parents and WJC administrators about the best way to move forward. We developed various procedures and protocols to ensure the safety for all. We also welcomed Carol Meyers, our new Assistant ECC Director. For the past four years Carol was the Assistant Nursery School Director at Temple Israel Center where she worked closely with the teachers, staff, and families to create a warm, loving, educational environment. Her leadership and expertise is already making our day-to-day activities run more smoothly.
By the time you read this, our children and staff will have been back at school learning and playing in our new normal environment. A collection of tents serve as outdoor classrooms, and our groups of children learn and play in physically distanced “pods.” Although we look a bit different by wearing masks and are cautious while interacting, the feeling of welcoming warmth remains core to our values and program.
As the weather gets colder, we will eventually return indoors, where each classroom is outfitted with a new HEPA air filter that has been widely recognized for its effectiveness against viruses of all kinds. These filters are in addition to new cleaning and disinfecting protocols that have been instituted by Facilities Manager Jose Luis Fonseca and his dedicated staff. It is our hope that between these additions to our routine cleanings, everyone wearing masks, and social distancing when in and out of ECC that we will be able to stay in the building all year!
Now, more than ever, we are grateful to be back as a community, back to the rhythm of life with our WJC family.