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Early Learning Center 2020-2021

The Brodie Family Early Learning Center at Beth
Sholom Congregation has been hard at work and at
play during the past year.

Many of our parents have expressed their appreciation for
the efforts that were made to open our school with the
current restrictions, and parents frequently acknowledge
our continued diligence in maintaining the highest safety
standards. We are very fortunate to have a staff who
seamlessly made the necessary accommodations so that
parents can feel reassured while their children are in school.

Our preschool reopened in September 2020 after being
closed for six months. Despite the challenges, 2020-2021
was a very good school year. There were many things that
looked different, but a great deal that was the same. Early
Learning was the same high quality, loving preschool!
Following protocols recommended by the CDC, required
by the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early
Learning (OCDEL), and with the guidance and support of
Dr. Steven Shapiro, Chair of Pediatrics at Abington Hospital,
we established new routines for the safety of our children.
We had daily health screenings each morning upon arriving
at school. Parents were not permitted to enter the building
and were met outside by our teachers. Children ate lunches
separated from each other by plastic shields. And of course,
all children and staff wore masks.

The biggest difference was the location of our classrooms.
Beth Sholom's Reopening Task Force advised us that
one of the most important elements of a safe classroom
was good ventilation. The Preschool relocated to the
Fischman and Bornstein Auditoriums while renovations
were made to the ventilation system in the classrooms.
The teachers created beautiful, stimulating classrooms in
these spaces. The bigger areas allowed us to be even safer
in a COVID environment. We are very appreciative to
our parents for their cooperation, and to our teachers for
creating a wonderful program for our children.

Early Learning returned to their classrooms in June 2021
at the beginning of the camp season. Our parents have
confidence that their children are spending each day in
well ventilated classrooms.

ENROLLMENT
Prior to the pandemic, approximately 75 children were
enrolled. We started the 2020-2021 school year with just
nineteen children. Parents were working from home and
hesitant to send their children to school. By the conclusion
of our school year, we had more than forty enrolled, which
was the maximum capacity for our usable space. We
maintained our safety policies and did whatever we could to
reduce the risk of exposure to the COVID–19 virus.
While overall numbers declined, our percentage of
Jewish students increased. In one year, we increased
from 65% Jewish children to 80% which is not typical of all synagogues. It is very encouraging and will help


us achieve our goal of engaging our preschool families
in our synagogue community, creating life-long Beth
Sholom members.

EDUCATION
Our children continue to thrive in a warm, loving, top-quality
educational program. We are very grateful for
experienced staff who returned to Beth Sholom in
September 2020 and stayed with us the entire school year.
They are committed to providing an excellent experience
for our children while adapting to the safety protocols.
With gratitude to our teachers, the program has exceeded
our expectations. Because of the teachers' dedication,
there has been very little teacher absence. Not only did
our children benefit from the continuity of the program,
we had no need to bring in substitute teachers, enabling
us to have a safe environment. The children learned all
the readiness skills, celebrated holidays and played with
their friends. It is a delight to walk into their classroom
and hear their singing and laughing. They are so happy, it
is almost possible to see their smiles through their masks.

BUILDING COMMUNITY DURING THE PANDEMIC
We love our Preschool families! We are so fortunate to
have a dedicated group of parents. During the pandemic
they continued to plan wonderful programs for both the
parents and the children. In the Fall, we had three outdoor
events that were very well attended. Once it became too
cold to meet outdoors, the parents held virtual ZOOM
events and made packages for our children. On Purim
each child received a baking kit. The PTO supplied fresh
dough, filling and directions for every family to make
hamantashen at home. In April 2021, the warm weather
enabled us to plan another outdoor event. More than
100 people met one Sunday morning for a professional,
musical puppet show. It was a delightful morning, perfect
in every way with ideal weather, an excellent performance,
and happy families. During the summer months our PTO
organized a Havdallah service with the Neshama band
and an outing to a nature center. We are very lucky to
have an exemplary community of young families.

Mon, November 29 2021 25 Kislev 5782