First Houston Elementary School to Implement Distance Learning

As soon as COVID-19 was detected in the United States, Beth Yeshurun increased building sanitization and BYDS was on high alert monitoring the health and wellness of our children. We determined to close the school building for students on Friday, March 13th and implement our Distance Learning program on Tuesday, March 17th. As the first Preschool and Elementary school in Houston to implement distance learning, BYDS only had one day to prepare. Administrators and teachers worked together very quickly to prepare these lessons for our families. We hosted a one-day professional development session for BYDS faculty to continue distance learning training. We began with a one-week trial for every student INFANT through 5th Grade offering LIVE teacher-led bedtime stories and at least one daily touchpoint for each class.

The most important measure we are taking is to follow the national and local recommendations and guidelines of keeping the building closed and providing our students with consistency, routines, and social connections. Jennifer LeVine, BYDS Head of School said, “We had to jump into action really quickly, and figure out how we can continue our program and support our students, families, and faculty.” Our school counselor and nurse are reaching out to every parent to check on our students and their families.

BYDS students are so excited to see their whole class tune in to participate with their teachers including morning exercises and circle time to English, Math, Science, and Hebrew. Our PE coach has provided lessons as well for the kids to do at their most energetic times, our in-house reading specialist continues to work with our students individually and reading groups, and our school counselor is checking in personally with every student and family.

As more and more schools are beginning their distance learning programs, BYDS has enhanced our schedule into full swing that includes virtual core class instruction, virtual BYDS morning exercises, suggested activity breaks between classes, weekly virtual STEAM challenges, and student-led Kabbalat Shabbat Zoom sessions. Jennifer LeVine, BYDS Head of School, advises other schools to take it slowly as you begin to implement distance learning. “Remember these are children who have never learned this way and teachers who have never taught this way. Consistency, routines, and social connections during a time of social distancing is the most crucial piece we can offer our students and families right now.

We are all excited to get back on campus and be together.

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