When we imagine our local heroes, we visualize the brave women and men running into danger while everyone else is running away. We think of Doctors, Nurses, EMTs, Police, and Firefighters, but many forget to include our local childcare workers. They have been asked to work on the frontlines with the risk of exposure, and they are adapting to a new normal of personal protective gear, facemasks, and evolving guidelines and cleaning procedures.
When COVID-19 forced everything to close in March, teachers didn’t skip a beat. During what we assumed would be a two-week closure, teachers organized and cleaned classrooms and pivoted to engaging families in innovative ways leveraging home crafts, Zoom circle time, and 1:1 video calls.
In April, Federation relaunched the San Diego Jewish Preschool Directors Council. The council, which hadn’t met in over a decade, began weekly Zoom meetings (sometimes more) to build a support network to help navigate this turbulent time together. They share resources, help each other cope with stress, and celebrate successes. As one director shared, “the opportunity to connect with other Jewish directors who are facing the same challenges and questions, has allowed all of us to support each other, and ultimately aid in our collective success.” In addition to training their staff for reopening, the Directors have been working collectively to create new operating procedures designed to keep everyone safe.
Many of our local Jewish preschools have reopened for the summer and all have plans to operate in the fall. Each day, these frontline workers roll up their sleeves and enter unknown situations to ensure that our children have a place to go that is safe, welcoming, and fun. In addition, they are ensuring that our students stay connected to Judaism through weekly Shabbat celebrations, Jewish content, and special enrichment activities.
Tifereth Israel Synagogue in East County’s San Carlos neighborhood serves many families with dual working parents. They currently have 80 children enrolled, and Director Amy Stanley is proud of her teachers who give their best every day, “The staff has faced our new normal with strength and positive energy, reassuring the parents every step along the way. They are taking exceptional care of the children, helping them transition back into school with love and comfort.”
Federation is so grateful to all childcare workers who ensure our community has a safe, warm, and loving place for their children during COVID-19. Please join us in giving some extra love and appreciation to these heroes!