Administrations are pushing good hygiene, but have yet to change upcoming travel plans to Israel and elsewhere.

As concern over the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to grow, Metro Detroit Jewish schools are preparing for the possibility that the virus will directly impact the community. Hillel Day School, Farber Hebrew Day School and Frankel Jewish Academy (FJA) are all implementing new protocols and emphasizing basic health practices.

Hillel, Farber and FJA have all sent memos to parents outlining what the schools are focusing on and advising parents to keep sick children at home. They are also asking faculty and staff to do the same.

The schools have been actively enforcing good hygiene by encouraging students to wash their hands regularly and cover their sneezes and coughs. They are also allowing teachers to provide students with several periodic hand-washing breaks, including before and after lunch and restroom use.

Along with good hygiene practices among students and faculty, the schools are also periodically disinfecting door handles, faucets, bathrooms, drinking fountains, tables, desks and countertops.

As of now, there is no plan to close any of the schools. Farber Head of School Rabbi Scot Berman told the Jewish News that they are in “contact with the Oakland County Health Department and other medical professionals to keep informed as to proper measures.”

Hillel and FJA are also both actively engaging with “local, state and federal agencies and will continue to reevaluate steps and actions regularly,” according to their memos.

However, if it is in the best interest of the schools to close, Farber, Hillel and FJA are all beginning to explore and discuss strategies to provide remote instruction via technology to ensure that students’ learning is not disrupted.

In addition to protocol inside the schools, Hillel is also closely monitoring travel advisories. The eighth grade is scheduled to travel to Israel April 20-May 6, and the seventh grade is supposed to head to Washington D.C. in May. Neither of those trips have been cancelled yet.

“We are keeping an eye on the situation,” Hillel’s statement read. They also advised parents who travel internationally for Passover to closely monitor travel advisories and to “be aware that Hillel will need to follow any governmental recommendations relating to individuals who have returned to the country after traveling overseas.”

FJA is also thinking ahead regarding future spring trips, including a 12th grade visit to Poland and Israel. They already had two travel opportunities for students changed due to the outbreak.

Students were scheduled to compete in the International Robotraffic competition at the Technion in Israel and attend the Moot Beit Din (Moot Jewish Court) conference in New York City. The Robotraffic competition has been rescheduled by the Technion to October 2020 and the Moot Beit Din conference will now be done virtually.

As of March 5, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Michigan.

Read more: Synagogues and Temples Factor the Coronavirus into Purim Celebrations

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