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Reflections on Virtual Learning

November 13, 2020
By Adam Tilove

Just three days ago, we made the difficult decision to move the school to remote learning because of the rapid spread of the virus in the community. Since then, the number of cases per 100,000 residents has increased from 608 to 702, and the percent positive has moved from 14.3% to 15.4%. Again, this is the increase over the last three days.

I spent the week at home with my children, and it has not been easy. My first grader is not capable of managing his own schedule. He needs help logging into every Zoom meeting. In one class, for inexplicable reasons, the password doesn’t work and he can’t login. He gets distracted easily and needs to be redirected often. None of this is surprising. He is six. 

It’s not surprising, but it is hard for us trying to figure out how to get work done. Dishes go unwashed and laundry unfolded. Some days it feels like we are left to do all our work in the evenings when the kids are asleep. 

I tell you all this because I want you to know that as the father of three school age children, I am not making any of these decisions lightly or in a vacuum. I am desperate to get the kids back to school, as I’m sure many of you are. 

There is a concept in Judaism called pikuach nefesh which states that the preservation of human life overrides any other religious law. While the law isn’t directly applicable to the running of a school, the principal is the same. In the face of a very real and present danger to the health and life of our students and children, we have to make decisions based on preserving human life. The Talmud asks and answers the following question: “Why was man created alone? Is it not true that the Creator could have created the whole of humanity at one time? But man was created alone to teach us that whoever kills one life it is as if they killed the entire world, but whoever saves one life, it is as if they saved the entire world.”

Since I have been honest about my experience as an HBHA parent so far, I would like to add that as a parent I have been awed by the teaching staff at HBHA. My children have been working hard and learning a great deal. Their classes - in person and virtual - have been well organized, with a weekly schedule that is clear and easy to follow. Teachers have gone out of their way to support my kids where they need it: whether that involves executive function supports, extra reading practice, or catching them up on lessons they missed. Teaching remotely is VERY challenging for teachers, and HBHA’s teachers have all stepped up to the challenge.

I know this situation is not ideal, but I am very grateful that I am in a community that is working so hard to simultaneously support our students while making decisions to protect the health of our more vulnerable members. 

I hope we will be back in school soon, but until that time, we are dedicated to giving you all the best possible experience we can during your children’s time at home. If you need extra support, please let us know: Feel free to reach out to your children’s teachers, your school division principal, or me. We know we can always do better and your feedback, positive or negative, means a lot to us. Stay in touch and stay healthy!

Shabbat Shalom,

Adam Tilove
HBHA Head of School