In Pursuit of the Right and the Good
As parents of school-aged children are very well aware, the Governor and the L.A. County Department of Public Health have determined that waivers for in-person school operations will not, currently, be considered, in the face of the COVID-19 case rate in Los Angeles. In addition to early childhood education centers, camps and day care programs can, under certain conditions, operate. School boards and educators – and, of course, parents and students -- are faced with difficult decisions.
Each Jewish day school is governed by a board of directors. It is the responsibility of each school – consistent with state, county and city regulations and with paramount regard for health and safety - to determine how to proceed in the current environment. BJE can and does urge that each school board consult with medical, legal and insurance professionals in arriving at decisions that are of consequence not only to their immediate community but to the broader public of which the students, families and staff of the school are part.
Recognizing that there are, invariably, a myriad legal issues that arise in connection with school operations, BJE has organized a consortium of schools that individually and collectively benefits from the legal counsel of a law firm specializing in the representation of schools and school districts. At a time when knowledge of laws, executive orders and regulations relating to issues of school operation during the pandemic is essential to decision-making, it is particularly important for Heads of School and school boards to have ready access to legal counsel. Half of all BJE-accredited day schools and yeshivot are, currently, part of the legal consortium.
In the cycle of Torah study, Jews around the world are reading Moses’s closing addresses; this is the substance of the entire Book of Deuteronomy. Moses recognizes that not every life situation likely to arise is neatly addressed by one or another of the instructions he has conveyed. He adjures the Israelites and successive generations to do “what is right and good” (Deuteronomy 6:18). Translating such guidance into appropriate action is a challenge with which each school board must grapple in considering difficult decisions at this time. Counsel obtained through the legal consortium has much to contribute to such deliberations.