What does it mean to be a member of a group or community? In communities, we learn a language and a culture or way of life; we satisfy our yearning to belong, receive comfort in times of trouble, and find companions who share our dreams, values, and beliefs. Communities also provide security and protection from those who might wish to do us harm. How the members of a group, a nation, or a community define who belongs and who does not has a lot to do with how they define their universe of obligation. Sociologist Helen Fein coined this phrase to describe the group of individuals within a society “toward whom obligations are owed, to whom rules apply, and whose injuries call for amends.”
In other words, a society’s universe of obligation includes those people whom the society believes deserve respect and whose rights it believes are worthy of protection. We teach our middle school students about this concept each year. With the goal of instilling the value that we are all responsible for one another, we take our students through exercises that force them to consider who is part of their community and what responsibilities does membership entail.
Yavneh is an amazing community. Comprised of dedicated faculty, creative students, caring parents, loving grandparents and involved Board members, we are strong because our very essence is that we feel responsible for one another.
So how is the universe of obligation connected to waivers, COVID-19, and in-person learning? The Yavneh community is responsible for the education, health, and safety for each member of the community. As the approval for our waiver is likely to be granted by next week and Santa Clara County moved from the purple (wide-spread) zone, to the red (substantial) zone for COVID-19 cases, Yavneh will have permission to begin in-person instruction. We currently don’t have exact dates, but the progression through our phases could begin earlier than our original 6-weeks of virtual learning plan. Here is the plan that we shared with the County that has both our phases of starting in-person instruction as well as health and safety guidelines mandated by the County and State. Please note that because this plan was for the waiver, it only includes K – 6; we are currently updating this plan to include all of the grades.
Amid all of the uncertainty right now, we can agree on many things:
~All members of the Yavneh community are valued.
~For most students, in-person instruction is more effective than virtual instruction; this is especially true for our youngest students.
~All adults in the Yavneh community have their own comfort level with the idea of their children or themselves returning for in-person instruction.
Our next steps involve you. Tomorrow, you’ll be receiving a link to a new survey. We’d like to hear about your child’s experience with virtual learning over the last three weeks as we are always learning and improving. In addition, in order to work through the logistics of our plans for physical opening, we need to know what your thoughts are about in-person instruction for your children. Please review our plan and then complete the survey for each Yavneh student in your family by Monday, September 14th. The task force will review the data next week and then prepare a presentation for the Board of Trustees at our meeting next Thursday.
Thank you for your partnership throughout this entire process. Always Together. Always Learning.