Last year the yeshivas all celebrated a week-long teacher appreciation week. And at the end of this year we again thanked our teachers for managing to provide instruction online due schools closing due to COVID-19. While that was certainly the right thing to do, I think there was an underappreciated segment of our community that should have received something like the letter below. It should have been sent at the end of the school year, but maybe the proper time is right now, since yeshivas have decided (for the time being) to resume in-person classes for the fall:
“We, the heads of school of the local yeshiva day schools, want to thank the heroes who made it possible to continue educating our children while in-person school had to be closed. We are speaking of the parents, grandparents and donors who kept funds flowing during this most difficult time. Many of us lost businesses, jobs and investments while much of the economy was closed. Many had to find ways to work while also managing child-care with the children at home.
“Furthermore, we want to acknowledge that many parents had to work as unpaid teachers’ assistants during the day while school was taking place. For many children, especially younger children and those with special needs, focusing on a computer screen was extraordinarily
difficult. Someone needed to be present and focused while school was in session to make sure the children stayed in the room, weren’t distracted and weren’t playing with the computer in a way that would annoy the teachers and other students. Someone needed to tutor the children after class when they didn’t understand the material because it wasn’t being taught in-person.
“Often, the same parent who was helping the student throughout the day also had to figure out how to get things done at their jobs between classes or in the evenings. Those with domestic help often had to send them home for safety reasons while still feeling obligated to pay them. So the parents who were working while helping their children during the day also had to do housework that they were paying someone else to do.
“And yet, despite all of this, most figured out a way to pay tuition and keep making good on their pledged donations. Thanks to their incredible efforts, schools were able to pay their teachers and make payments on the buildings that we are now so blessed to be able to use. They were even able to pay the additional expenses required for us to maintain safety and hygiene standards this year while the pandemic continues.
“This hakarat hatov was long in coming but is nevertheless heartfelt. Our teachers and administrators did amazing work under very difficult circumstances. The appreciation we showed them was certainly deserved. The appreciation for our parents, their extended families and our many donors is every bit as much so.
“May Hashem make this a healthy and productive year for all of the yeshivas, their students and their families.”Yoni Bak