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Covid-19 Update - July 3

July 3, 2020

Dear Congregants,

At this moment I would like to provide you with an update on COVID-19 and CBE. As mentioned in May, the decision making of CBE leadership and the COVID-19 Task Force with respect to the "opening" of CBE is guided by the Jewish values, which include:

  • Pikuah Nefesh -- "Safeguarding Life"
  • Sakanat Nefeshot -- "Avoiding Endangering Life"
  • Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Bazeh -- "We Are Responsible for One Another"

As we have learned through the research now available, the highest risk for being infected with the coronavirus is the combination of being indoor for a longer period of time, singing / chanting and lack of proper ventilation.

Considering this, as well as the difficulty in limiting access to Services, we have decided to keep the Synagogue closed throughout the month of August for almost all activities. Although we all crave the time when we can worship and learn together at the synagogue, at this point we judge this to be unsafe. We have a team looking into the potential for having some outdoor Services / programs this summer and the required logistics for doing so safely. Should this be a possibility we will provide additional information.

In early June Governor Baker authorized the reopening of early childhood centers in Massachusetts effective June 8, 2020. The Department of Early Education and Care (DEEC) issued strict guidelines and protocols under which centers are permitted to open. These guidelines were tested successfully by the emergency childcare centers open during the height of COVID-19 crisis. During the past three months the ELC management team remained in weekly contact with the parents of our preschool students. Throughout this period a number of parents indicated that they were urgently in need of childcare during the summer, if programs were permitted to open. Upon studying the DEEC requirements, reviewing them with the COVID-19 Task Force and obtaining approval from the Executive Board, the ELC applied for and last week received authorization from the DEEC to open on a limited capacity effective July 6, 2020.

You may ask, what is different from Services / programs that the ELC can open safely? The decision to open was not easy and not made lightly. The reasons, amongst others, why we feel the ELC can and should open safely are:

  • As mentioned before, thirteen families with a total of fifteen children indicated their urgent need for childcare this summer;
  • We are able to meet and effectively implement the DEEC requirements to ensure the safety of staff and students. During the summer, access to the ELC area will be restricted to teachers, students and custodians only. Specific and strict steps are taken to isolate the ELC from the rest of the building;
  • With fifteen children the ELC will be operating on a limited capacity, compared to a normal summer program of about 40 students. This allows for easier implementation of social distancing and other safety protocols;
  • Throughout the summer, much of the programming can be done outdoors;
  • We held several Zoom meetings with the parents whose children will be attending during the summer. They are committed to work closely with the ELC staff to rigorously follow all the protocols in place to ensure safety;
  • Experiences gained during the summer, with limited capacity, can be very valuable with respect to planning for and decision making concerning the Fall program. 

As mentioned, the decision to open was not made lightly, but we are confident it can be done in a safe manner in support of the ELC community. We will continue to monitor the infection data in Massachusetts and Acton and surrounding towns and are prepared to close the program should there be a need.

Stay healthy, stay safe and stay connected!

David Leers

President  

Thu, August 6 2020 16 Av 5780