RELIGIOUS SCHOOL NEWS – JULY 2021
Religious School Registration is Now Open for the 2021-2022 School Year
The Temple Reopening Task Force approved a plan for the Religious School to reopen normally in the Fall, like Montgomery County Public Schools. This action was taken in response to several significant and encouraging data points:
- Infection rates in the county continue to plummet; the seven-day average for the past week was only 29 new cases.
- Approximately 50% of the local population have been vaccinated, including teens between the ages of twelve and fifteen.
- The synagogue’s senior staff, administrative team, and the entire Religious School faculty and staff have all received vaccinations.
- News reports indicate that a vaccine for the youngest students—ages two to twelve—is now being tested and might be available as early as September.
- The Building and Grounds Committee of the Temple has implemented an Indoor Air Quality Plan that included upgrading our air filtration system.
As such, we are confident we can reopen safely in our building in September, albeit with masks for everyone, and resume, full throttle, our educational mission: Providing novel and thought-provoking materials that invite students to explore the myths, narratives, laws, symbols, rituals, art, music, and ethical teachings that shape Jewish identity.
Like many organizations, the Religious School was forced to adapt during the past has sixteen months. A few of the adaptations, however, make pedagogic sense in the post-pandemic world. For example, parents, students, and teachers recognized the value of having one-on-one, online Hebrew instruction for 4th—7th graders. This process allowed teachers to design targeted learning activities to meet the specific needs of each student; it enabled students to receive intensive and undivided attention from their teachers, and, therefore, to progress efficiently through the curriculum; and, finally, online Hebrew instruction eliminated the need for parents to fight rush-hour traffic while dropping-off and picking-up their children at the synagogue on Tuesday afternoons. (Third graders also met online for Hebrew last year, but the nature of their curriculum makes whole-class instruction online preferable.) In light of these educational advantages, and based on parent feedback from a survey last January, the Board of Education has recommended that the Religious School offer a choice to parents for Hebrew instruction for 3rd—7th graders; namely, an online option on Tuesdays from 4:15pm—6pm, and an in-person option on Sunday afternoons from 11:15am—1pm.
The second transferable learning from our experience during the 2020-2021 academic year is the value of balancing the time spent on each element of the curriculum. Previously, the religious school devoted 2.5 hours on Sunday mornings to the Judaic curriculum (9am—11:30am), and 1.25 hours on Tuesdays (4:45pm—6pm) or Sunday afternoons (11:45am—1pm) to the Hebrew/Prayer curriculum. To ensure that our students master the reading and concept objectives of our prayer curriculum, we have balanced the time on task between Judaic and Hebrew instruction. With the start of the 2021-2022 school year, Sunday mornings will be trimmed thirty minutes and the time added to Hebrew learning midweek and Sunday afternoons. The schedule will be as follows:
- K-7th grades will meet on Sunday mornings from 9am—11am.
- Hebrew instruction for 3rd—7th grades will meet on Sunday afternoons (in-person) from 11:15am—1pm, or on Tuesday afternoons (online, by appointment) from 4:15pm—6pm).
You’ll find these changes in the Registration Form. Please complete a registration for each child and return it to Kathy Magenheim before August 9th via snail mail or email (email@example.com).
Rabbi Mark H. Levine
Director of Congregational Learning
10101 Connecticut Avenue, Kensington, MD 20895
301-942-2000; ext. 107