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Campus Reopening Plan

Our task forces are working diligently to develop a reopening strategy that prioritizes the physical and mental health and safety of our community while allowing for flexibility. Each week, we learn new information that informs our decision-making process. It is clear that until a vaccine is created for COVID-19, Hillel must be prepared to respond seamlessly to changing circumstances.
 
We are blessed with a spacious campus, flexible classrooms, and extensive indoor and outdoor spaces. In addition, our low student-teacher ratio, among the lowest of any school in the area, provides us with the ability to implement all necessary safety and hygiene protocols while still emphasizing the essential skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, community, and our core Jewish values in our curriculum.
 
At this time, our Campus Reopening Task Force, in consultation with medical professionals and our academic leaders, believes that all students will be able to return to our facility on a daily basis in the Fall, albeit with physical distancing guidelines in effect. This is, of course, subject to federal, state, and local regulations.
 
There will be modifications to our normal school routines (e.g., lunch and physical education for example) and some multi-grade programs might become virtual to limit the potential spread of the virus and ensure the safety and health of our students and staff. However, we are committed to providing a complete range of academic and co-curricular programs, including all specialties, with physical distancing protocols.
 
As always, Hillel is prioritizing the emotional and mental health of your children. While school needs to be a safe and robust learning environment, we will also ensure that your children remain excited and eager to come to school to learn, play, and socialize without fear. 
 
We will also be prepared to move swiftly from on-campus learning to remote learning should the need arise for any part of the 2020 - 2021 school year. All K-4 students will receive a technology device, similar to the 1:1 program already in place for 5th - 8th grades, so younger students are prepared to transition to remote learning and to allow more synchronous instruction to occur. If we are teaching remotely, specialty classes, social-emotional learning, and learning support absolutely will continue. 
 
Flexibility is an essential attribute of all our plans. We are also planning for a differentiated model to meet the needs of students, families, and staff who may not be ready to return to our facility. In the flexible model, on-campus learning with physical distancing will happen concurrently with a remote learning option for these constituents.

Community Communications

List of 26 items.

  • June 30, 2020 - Reopening Update #6

    Dear Hillel Families, 

    I hope you and your family continue to enjoy the warmth and slower pace of the summer months. My update this week focuses on results from two recent parent surveys.
     
    Parent Survey on Reopening Plans for 2020 - 2021
     
    I want to thank the 264 families who completed last week’s survey about your thoughts and plans for the 2020 - 2021 school year. The responses were extremely informative for the task forces and will inform our plans going forward. The survey showed that the overwhelming majority of families across all of our learning communities are looking forward to their children returning to in-person learning on our campus, with physical distancing and safety protocols in place.
     
    I am hopeful that our communication on Tuesday, July 14 with our update on health and safety protocols will provide clarity for those families who are unsure at this time about their child returning to in-person learning. As a reminder, on August 11 we plan to communicate to our community the specifics about our Fall academic plans, specialty class modifications, athletic program, and Jewish life and holiday program plans for the period of September - November 2020.
     
    Measuring Success Parent Survey from November 2019
     
    In addition to planning for a safe reopening of our campus this Fall, our work on overarching strategic priorities continues as well. Although it may feel like it was a different lifetime, back in November, Hillel parents participated in our recent parent survey, administered by Measuring Success. More than 130,000 parents from 100 Jewish day schools across the United States and Canada have participated in this survey since 2008. The survey helps our school stay aligned with the values of our community, and it is one we conduct every two years. Among other things, the survey identifies demographics, perceived value, understanding of our mission, and how we fare compared to other Jewish day schools across the country.
     
    More than 73% percent of our parents participated in our November 2019 survey, 13% higher than the response rate from 2017. This level of participation reflects the passion and commitment of our parent community. We are proud of the following notable areas of strength:
     
    Areas of Strength
    • From 2017 to 2019, there was a 19% increase in how our community displays caring, respect, and trust toward and among each other
    • 81% of parents are very happy with how responsive Hillel is to concerns about their child’s progress in school
    • Hillel scored the highest of all peer group schools in the survey for students being challenged to learn
    • The teacher/student relationships
    • Teacher attention to individual needs of students and emphasis on the whole child
    • Instilling core values in children to help them become mensches
    • The facility and resources
    • The sense of community
    • Fostering a love of learning in children
     
    Building on these results, we are confident that we can increase our successes and explore new possibilities for excellence.  
     
    The survey results also pointed out areas for improvement and we have already begun to act upon those data as detailed below.
     
    Areas for Improvement 
     
    Each of these also includes a summary of initiatives that were put in place during the 2019-20 academic year to enhance each area. As Hillel is always self-reflective and looking to improve, we will continue to build upon these initiatives in the months ahead and will communicate more details in the Fall.
     
    Academic Preparedness and Ensuring All Students Excel
    • “Non-negotiables,” grammar and spelling expectations specific to each grade level, are now mandated. Students are required to follow these Non-Negotiables when turning in any work, for any subject. This promotes attention to detail and sets high expectations for written work.
    • Bridges Mathematics Intervention curriculum was adopted for grades K-5. This curriculum provides targeted instruction and assessments to enhance essential K-5 mathematical skills.
    • To allow for more opportunities to meet each child’s individual learning needs, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, Hillel will offer three different 7th-grade math courses. In addition to our previous classes, Seventh Grade Math and Algebra, we will also offer a class called Seventh Grade Math Extensions, which will include more rigorous concepts and skills than Seventh Grade Math.
    • Lucy Calkins K-2 Units of Study in Phonics provides direct phonics instruction in a format that aligns with our approach to reading and writing.
    Consistent Approach to Discipline and Accountability for Students
    • We developed a Behavior Framework in order to internally implement a consistent structure for addressing behavior that does not meet expectations. This framework includes when Behavior Incident Forms must be submitted, and includes subsequent suggested interventions and consequences. 
    • These improvements are meant to parallel with the structures and language of Responsive Classroom. 
    • We established a new motto to maintain a positive and safe learning climate, promote derech eretz, and frame our behavior expectations for students. With this change, all members of the Hillel community have a visible, clear understanding of their role in the educational process.
    • A student-friendly version of the handbook, which includes a student agreement, was designed to connect students to the expectations and take ownership of the culture of Hillel.
    Hebrew Language Instruction
    • A curriculum audit is underway led by Vardit Ringvald, the Director of the School of Hebrew at Middlebury College, an institution best known for its expertise in language study. Vardit has met with all of our Ivrit teachers and is in the early stages of reviewing the curriculum. Over the next year, Vardit will provide feedback and recommendations to improve Hillel’s Hebrew curriculum to ensure that all Hillel graduates become proficient speakers and writers of the Hebrew language.
    Jewish Learning, Life, and Living
    • Tefillah is a critically important pathway into many key aspects of Jewish living.  This year, we piloted Tefillah rotations in the 5-6 community to give students the opportunity to connect Tefillah to our core values, build skills as a prayer leader, and explore the meaning of Tefillah. Next year, Tefillah rotations will expand into 7th and 8th grade to continue building our student’s confidence as Tefillah leaders and help them find meaning in prayer. Sample Tefillah rotations from the 2019-2020 academic year include: an Attitude of Gratitude, Torah Reading Skills, Tefillah Gear, and Growing in Tefillah: A Greenhouse Experience. 
    • As an outgrowth of our 2018 Judaic Studies curriculum audit, we will review and update our 5-6 Rabbinics curriculum, sharpening its focus on ritual familiarity and foundational rabbinic texts, so that the course is better aligned with our Portrait of a Graduate

    Please know that our Leadership Team continues to act on the data collected from this survey and implement new initiatives to improve our program. I am excited to jump right in and utilize my 22 years of high school teaching experience to enhance Hillel’s already impressive curriculum. We will keep you posted on our progress, with more details in the Fall.
     
    Earlier today, Governor Whitmer released MI Safe Schools: Michigan's 2020 - 2021 Return to School Roadmap. In the press conference, we heard that Michigan is faring better than many other states on key indicators but we cannot let our guard down. The continued use of face masks, physical distancing, and frequent hand sanitizing remains critical to a return to in-person learning in the Fall. The Return to School Roadmap outlines requirements and recommendations for each of Michigan’s 6 phases. In-person learning may occur in Phase 4 (our current phase) or Phase 5 (where the Governor hopes Michigan will be by early September). Our Leadership Team and task forces will digest every requirement and recommendation outlined in the Governor’s plan.
     
    There will be no email update on Tuesday, July 7 as our Leadership Team enjoys some much-needed time off to refresh and rejuvenate.  Please be on the lookout for the next email from me on July 14 in which I will communicate about health and safety protocols based on the Return to School Roadmap and recommendations from our medical advisors. I will also communicate about faculty and staff professional development plans.
     
    I hope you take advantage of the many opportunities to maintain your child’s and your family’s connection to Hillel, our teachers, and to their learning. Sign up today for our many upcoming Summer Experiences taught by our own Hillel teachers, and be sure to join us for the many Summer Fun programs being offered. Print this calendar and save the dates. In response to your feedback, we are excited to provide many resources to bring Ivrit and Judaics into your homes this summer. As a reminder, the links can be found here
     
    I wish you and your family a wonderful July 4th holiday and look forward to meeting many in the Hillel community after my arrival in Michigan in mid-July.
     
    Best regards,
     
    Darin Katz
    Head of School
  • June 23, 2020 - Reopening Update #5

    Dear Hillel Families,

    Chodesh Tov!
     
    We hope that the summer break is off to a fun and refreshing start for you and your family. Last Wednesday, Governor Whitmer announced that schools across Michigan will reopen for in-person learning this fall. During her press conference, the Governor stated, “Our intent is to resume in-person instructions and to do so in a way that is safe, but also to make sure that as we get back to school, as we return to learn, that we have very clear guidance to what the minimum expectations are.” This has been our goal at Hillel since we began our planning last month. We look forward to receiving more details on June 30 when the Governor’s Return to Learning Advisory Council releases its plan and recommendations.

    Thank you to the parents who attended our focus groups last week. The discussions about our reopening plans were rich and extremely informative for our task forces. We found that all communities had similar questions and concerns, including (but not limited to):

    • Will there be any changes to arrival and dismissal procedures?
    • Will students have to wear masks throughout the school day?
    • How will Hillel handle lunch and recess?
    • Will there be changes to the remote learning schedule should it be needed next year?
    • What will the procedure be if there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in the school?
    • Will students be placed in “bubbles” for classes? At Hillel, we are using the Hebrew word, בּוּעָה (boo-ah), for bubble.
    We want to emphasize that our Campus Reopening Task Force and Educational Continuity and Academic Task Force are diligently working to provide detailed answers to these questions and many others. As previously communicated, we plan to share health and safety protocols on July 14. We promise transparent communication with you as details solidify. 

    If you were not able to attend your community’s focus group last week, we encourage you to listen to the recording found here:

    • ECC/Kindergarten Focus Group - LINK
    • 1-2 Focus Group - LINK
    • 3-4 Focus Group - LINK
    • 5-6 Focus Group - LINK
    • 7-8 Focus Group - LINK

    We thank the over 237 parents who have completed our Parent Survey that was emailed to you last Friday. We have already begun analyzing the data, but it is important that we have 100% participation from at least one parent in each household. So if you did not yet complete the survey, we ask that you do so no later than Wednesday, June 24 when we will close the survey.

    During the summer months, we hope you take advantage of the many opportunities to maintain your child’s and your family’s connection to Hillel, our teachers, and to their learning. Sign up today for our many Summer Experiences taught by our own Hillel teachers and be sure to join us for the many Summer Fun programs being offered. Print this calendar and save the dates. In response to your feedback, we are excited to provide many resources to bring Ivrit and Judaics into your homes this summer. As a reminder, the links can be found here

    We thank you for your continued partnership and support. Our best wishes to you and your entire family.
     
    Sincerely,

    Dr. Darin Katz                           Naty Katz
    Incoming Head of School         Interim Head of School
     
  • June 9, 2020 - Update #4 On Planning for the Fall

    Dear Hillel Community,

    We hope you and your children have enjoyed the special programs to mark the end of the 2019 - 2020 school year. We wish a hearty Mazal Tov to our eighth-grade graduates and their parents and look forward to tomorrow evening’s graduation ceremony.
     
    As we have communicated to you recently, our task forces are working diligently to develop a reopening strategy that prioritizes the physical and mental health and safety of our community while allowing for flexibility. Each week, we learn new information that informs our decision-making process. It is clear that until a vaccine is created for COVID-19, Hillel must be prepared to respond seamlessly to changing circumstances.
     
    The purpose of this week’s communication is to describe the various scenarios for which we are planning for the Fall and our timeline for finalizing decisions and communicating them to you.
     
    Scenario 1: On-Campus Learning with Physical Distancing Guidelines
     
    This is the scenario for which we are steadfastly hopeful. 
     
    Our campus will reopen for in-person learning 
    unless government regulations prevent us from doing so.
     
    We are blessed with a spacious campus, flexible classrooms, and extensive indoor and outdoor spaces. In addition, our low student-teacher ratio, among the lowest of any school in the area, provides us with the ability to implement all necessary safety and hygiene protocols while still emphasizing the essential skills of creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, community, and our core Jewish values in our curriculum.
     
    At this time, our Campus Reopening Task Force, in consultation with our medical advisor and our academic leaders, believes that all students will be able to return to our facility on a daily basis in the Fall, albeit with physical distancing guidelines in effect. This is, of course, subject to federal, state, and local regulations.
     
    There will be modifications to our normal school routines (e.g., lunch and physical education for example) and some multi-grade programs like Shabbat Mishpacha might become virtual to limit the potential spread of the virus and ensure the safety and health of our students and staff. However, we are committed to providing a complete range of academic and co-curricular programs, including all specialties, with physical distancing protocols.
     
    As always, Hillel is prioritizing the emotional and mental health of your children. While school needs to be a safe and robust learning environment, we will also ensure that your children remain excited and eager to come to school to learn, play, and socialize without fear. 
     
    Scenario 2: The Transitional Model
     
    Health officials have noted the possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19 infections during the Fall and Winter months. The Educational Task Force will work this summer to ensure that our faculty are prepared to move swiftly from on-campus learning to remote learning should the need arise for any part of the 2020 - 2021 school year.
     
    We are acting on the feedback from both the parent and teacher remote learning surveys, and plan to advance and enhance the remote learning program we provided this Spring. All models of asynchronous and synchronous online instruction are being evaluated in order to best meet the needs of our students and ensure that they continue to learn, remain engaged, and strengthen relationships, always mindful of the amount of screen time for the students. Hillel will be providing all K-4 students with a technology device, similar to the 1:1 program already in place for 5th - 8th grades, so younger students are prepared to transition to remote learning and to allow more synchronous instruction to occur. If we are teaching remotely, specialty classes, social-emotional learning, and learning support absolutely will continue. 
     
    Scenario 3: The Flexible Model
     
    Flexibility is an essential attribute of our plans. We are therefore planning for a differentiated model to meet the needs of students, families, and staff who may have a heightened health risk and/or not be ready to return to our facility. In the flexible model, on-campus learning with physical distancing will happen concurrently with a remote learning option for these constituents.
     
    Our Timeline
     
    With the understanding that these uncertain times require flexibility on everyone’s part, we offer these dates to you as our tentative, optimistic timeline for decisions and communication with our families. 
     
    Decisions Completed by July 10
    • Health and Safety Protocols (subject to federal, state, and local guidelines) including:
      • Daily cleaning protocols
      • Physical distancing guidelines
      • Temperature checks and health assessments
      • Arrival and dismissal procedures for students
      • Visitor policy
      • Lunch procedures
      • Use of school supplies
    • Professional development scheduled to ensure that all faculty and staff are ready to provide educational excellence for all possible scenarios
     
    Tuesday, July 14
    • Communicate health and safety protocols and faculty and staff professional development to our community 
     
    Decisions Completed by August 7 for the months of September - November 2020
    • Academic plans
    • Format of Meet the Teacher/Curriculum Night
    • Specialty class programming
    • Athletic plans
    • Jewish life and holiday programs
     
    Tuesday, August 11
    • Communicate academic, specialty classes programming, athletic, and Jewish life and holiday program plans for the period of September - November 2020 to our community
     
    Completed by August 21
    • Remote professional development for faculty and staff to ensure readiness to fully implement our academic and co-curricular program in any of the scenarios
     
    Completed by August 28
    • Professional Development Week for faculty and staff to include training with regard to health and safety protocols, including practices related to physical distancing 
     
    In lieu of an email update next week, we encourage you to attend one of our upcoming parent focus groups organized by learning community so that we can receive your feedback, answer your questions, and share additional information about reopening our campus. These gatherings will be open dialogues; however, we kindly remind you to submit your questions in advance via this form so that we can prepare for the conversations. The Zoom links can be found by clicking the applicable date and time.
     
     
    As part of our ongoing communications leading up to the next school year, following the parent focus groups, and our weekly updates, during the summer we will also invite you to complete a parent survey so that we may learn about any concerns you have regarding the Fall.
     
    We are reminded of the words of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, who says, "Faith is not about optimism but about courage, the courage to face an unknown future knowing that we are not alone, that God is with us, lifting us when we fall, signaling the way.”  As a Hillel community, we will hold firm to our mission and core Jewish values,  and continue providing an outstanding education for our children. 
     
    Our parents play a tremendously valuable part in our reopening process, and we thank you again for your partnership. Best wishes for a wonderful summer!
     
    Naty Katz                               Dr. Darin Katz
    Interim Head of School          Incoming Head of School 
  • June 2, 2020 - Update #3 on Planning for the Fall

    Dear Hillel Community,

    We hope you had a wonderful Shavuot, Z'man Matan Torateinu, a holiday on which we celebrate our receiving the Torah, and reaffirm our commitment to learning from it, which is at the heart of everything we do at Hillel. We invite you to watch Dr. Darin Katz, our Incoming Head of School, give this week’s reopening update via video
     
    We also invite you to mark your calendars for the upcoming focus groups that will help us gather information as we plan for next year. For the sake of efficiency, they have been organized by learning communities, and you should attend the focus group associated with your child’s current school year. These gatherings will be open dialogues; however, we ask that you submit your questions in advance via this form so that we can prepare for the conversations. The Zoom links can be found by clicking the applicable date and time.
    We look forward to receiving your feedback, answering your questions, and sharing more information about reopening our school safely at these upcoming sessions. 
     
    Thank you again for your continued partnership and support.
     
    Naty Katz                                 Dr. Darin Katz
    Interim Head of School            Incoming Head of School
  • June 1, 2020 - Camp Update

    We hope you and your family are doing well and that you enjoyed the beautiful weekend. We are thinking of you and summer, especially as the weather gets warmer. As we expressed in prior communications, the health and safety of our children and staff are our top priority. Taking everything into account, including discussions with our medical advisors and the health department, and carefully following State recommendations and the Stay at Home Order prohibiting school and camp operations until at least June 12th, we have come to the very disappointing conclusion that Hillel will not offer camp this summer. 
     
    We know that this has been a challenging time for you and your children. We know that childcare is a struggle and that children need to socialize and play. It is for these reasons that we waited as long as we possibly could to make our final decision. While this is not the decision we wanted to make, we also had to balance our ability to offer a safe environment with the feeling of Hillel’s summer camp. A camp that is loving. Where children sit on counselors’ laps and hold each other’s hands. Where a crying child is consoled by a counselor’s hug. Hillel camp is not a camp where children are kept at arm’s length, nor is it a place where we want children hesitant of counselors in masks. In the end, we determined that if we cannot offer camp in a  developmentally appropriate and loving way, then this is not the camp that Hillel should run. 
     
    We know this is not what you wanted to hear from us and we know this isn’t easy for you. It is hard on us as well. We miss your children desperately and want nothing more than to sing songs in a circle, sit side-by-side eating popsicles, and play in the sprinklers. 
     
    If we determine that we can do kindergarten readiness camp in a safe and appropriate way later in the summer, we will reach out to our rising kindergartners.  
     
    In the meantime, stay tuned for some fun camp sing-a-longs with Miss Barbara and some surprise guests and an announcement about other summer experiences. If you have already given us a deposit for the first two sessions of camp, you will receive a full refund. 
     
    We greatly appreciate your understanding and support during these COVID times. We look forward to a time when we can play and learn in person with your children again. If you need help with childcare this summer, please reach out to me and I will try to put you in touch with some of our camp staff who now have availability and have offered to help.
     
    Thank you for your understanding,
     
    Robin Pappas
    Director of Early Education 
  • May 26, 2020 - Update #2 on Planning for the Fall

    Dear Hillel Families,

    We hope you enjoyed time with family over the Memorial Day weekend. As we communicated last week, Hillel’s planning for the 2020 - 2021 school year is well underway. Our task forces are working diligently to develop a reopening strategy that prioritizes the physical and mental health and safety of our community while allowing for flexibility. While there is much that we still do not know, we remain steadfastly hopeful that we will return to in-person learning on our beautiful campus this Fall.
     
    The purpose of this communication is to provide an update on the task forces’ progress and to inform you of our plan to provide weekly updates every Tuesday, even when there is little new to report. One beauty of Hillel has always been the partnership we share with you, our parents, on the education of your children. This partnership has never been stronger or more important than now as you have truly become our teammates in your child’s educational journey. Please know that we too share your anxiousness over the uncertainty of what the next school year may look like. We hope these weekly updates will inform you of the progress we are making, acknowledge what we know and do not yet know, answer your questions, and ease your concerns.
     
    General Updates
     
    We are pleased to inform you that Dr. Miriam Levine, current Hillel parent, alumna, and a board-certified specialist in infectious disease has graciously agreed to serve as our medical advisor to help guide our decisions and protocols regarding school safety. 
     
    During this time when the school building is empty, we are continuing with planned repair and maintenance activities. Every person who enters the building completes a health assessment and undergoes a temperature check.
     
    Update from the Campus Reopening Task Force (CRTF)
     
    The CRTF is busy planning for a return to school in the fall and taking every precaution that goes along with that, including purchasing supplies immediately to ensure we have enough to safely operate school. We have already secured the following personal protective equipment (PPE) and related hygiene items (and plan to order more PPE):
    • 500 masks
    • 120 face shields
    • 13 touchless thermometers
    • 100 containers of Clorox wipes
    • Hand sanitizer pumps that will be placed at the entrance of each classroom
     
    We are also investigating the purchase of disinfectant foggers for disinfecting surfaces in seconds, as well as hands-free door openers.
     
    Every classroom and common area has been measured to determine how many students can occupy each space while following applicable physical distancing guidelines (currently 6 feet). While many school districts are grappling with how to reduce class size safely in their school facilities, we appreciate how fortunate we are to already have small class sizes that can effectively be made even smaller with two teachers per existing classroom in many 1-4 classes and the ability to spread out into our flexible spaces. 
     
    Plexi-glass has been installed around the security desk. We are planning additional installations in other areas, as needed.
     
    Our Head Chef, Carissa Good, has participated in several webinars to capture best practices for providing hot lunches next year.
     
    Update from the Educational Task Force
     
    The Educational Task Force is committed to creating an educational program for the fall that encompasses the learning needs of our students while keeping our mission, core values, health, and safety at the forefront of planning.
     
    Planning for Our 2020 - 2021 Academic Year
     
    While our hope and plan are to return to our facility in the Fall, we know that it will look differently than what we are used to and that we must be prepared to return to remote learning at any time. We reflect daily on the current remote learning structure and are in the process of analyzing the parent and teacher survey feedback. Thank you to everyone who submitted their feedback. We are continually examining what is working well, what are we learning, what do we not know yet, and what adjustments we can make to improve the students’ experience.
     
    After evaluating our current program, we will begin the solution-oriented steps of enhancing our remote learning program should we need it any time during the 2020 - 2021 school year. Asynchronous vs synchronous online instruction will be considered, as well as the length of time that our students are on screen. If we are teaching remotely, specialty classes, social-emotional learning, and learning support will absolutely continue. If we return to remote learning at any point next year, in addition to the 1:1 technology program already in place for 5th - 8th grades, Hillel will provide all K - 4 students with a device. This plan will ensure a smooth transition from on-campus learning to remote learning in case the switch happens abruptly.  
     
    As always, Hillel is prioritizing the mental health of your children. While school needs to be a safe and robust learning environment, we will also ensure that your children remain excited and eager to come to school to learn, play, and socialize without fear. 
     
    Summer Experiences
     
    Our hearts break for all of our students whose camp plans have been canceled. To address the desire for engaging programming for children over the summer months, in our community, we plan to offer optional remote summer experiences for our students during July for a nominal fee that will be determined. These offerings will appeal to a variety of interests and may include courses in academic subjects, the arts, physical activity, technology, Jewish Life, and mindfulness. Each experience would run for one week each throughout July.
     
    The purpose of these summer activities is to allow our students to have a continued connection to the school, learning, teachers, and peers. They will offer an opportunity for some routine and consistency for families, and allow our students to learn new skills, build on current knowledge, explore passions/interests, and to have fun! We hope the experiences will be compelling and exciting,and provide purpose and meaning for our students, families, and staff. We will be in touch with more information in the coming weeks.
     
    We have found great comfort in seeing one another at the various community programs we have shared during this pandemic. We will continue to offer inspiring programs that bring us together during the summer. These are separate from the remote summer experiences and may include Shabbat celebrations with our community’s camps, BINGO, virtual games, story time, art challenges, and more. We plan to share a calendar of events with you in the coming weeks. If you have any ideas, feel free to share them with Amy Schlussel.  
     
    Focus Groups
     
    Starting in mid-June, we will hold focus groups for parents to ask questions and gather more information about our reopening plans. For the sake of efficiency, these focus groups will be organized by learning communities (ECC and Kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-4, grades 5-6, and grades 7-8). More information and a link to register for these focus groups will be forthcoming.
     
    As a reminder, all communications and plans (as developed and shared) will be posted on the COVID-19 page of our website. We will soon be changing the name of that page to Reopening Planning. While the link will remain the same, we will share it with you once changed to ensure you have the correct page as a resource. 
     
    Amidst all the uncertainty we are facing, we take comfort in that we are facing it together as a Hillel community: a community comprised of dedicated teachers who deeply miss hugging their students, and who try to make up for the physical distance with birthday drive-bys, one-on-one Zoom calls, and encouraging letters in the mail containing chocolate; a community of students who have risen to the challenge with grace and resilience by utilizing critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity; a community of staff who have ensured that every family has a device to continue learning, that every family who needs tuition relief receives it, and that we continue connecting, albeit virtually. 
     
    We are also a community of parents who are negotiating the needs and demands of children, spouses, partners, work, household responsibilities, balancing finances, and the stress of the unknown. This community has supported each other for over 62 years. We have encountered challenging times in the past and have emerged stronger. Together, we will continue to grow and learn.
     
    Best wishes for continued good health and with gratitude for your partnership,
     
    Naty Katz                                   Dr. Darin Katz
    Interim Head of School                Incoming Head of School  
  • May 17, 2020 -Important Update Regarding Planning for Reopening

    Dear Hillel Community,

    The past two months have been deeply challenging for all of us. We are particularly mindful of those who are hurting financially, and those who have battled illness. Our thoughts remain with our families and friends who have lost loved ones to the pandemic, including the loss that all of us suffered from the passing of Coach Tony.
     
    Yet as you hopefully have witnessed and will see further below, Hillel Day School has risen to the challenge and will continue to do so. Where many other schools have struggled to provide any learning continuity, our teachers and our support teams adapted quickly and remarkably. And our community has stayed connected and engaged. Our professional staff have been working harder than ever to continue operations, to provide meaningful and innovative learning, to keep us connected, to nourish our children’s Jewish identities—all the reasons you committed to Hillel in the first place.   
     
    Task forces are deep in planning for every potential scenario for the next school year as well—educationally, operationally, and financially. We are grateful to have the simultaneous leadership in this planning from both our Interim Head of School Naty Katz and our incoming Head of School Dr. Darin Katz, as the Head of School transition continues successfully. We are pleased to share a joint message from Naty and Darin below, updating you on the reopening efforts and current plans.
     
    This summer also marks the planned transition of the President of the Board of Trustees. We both thank you for your patience and support, and for the extraordinary efforts of so many.  Times like these remind us how fortunate we are to have Hillel for our children and for our community.
     
    Ellen Folbe                                            Eric Bronstein
    President, Board of Trustees                   President-elect, Board of Trustees
     
     
    Dear Hillel Families,

    It was uplifting to see an outpouring of support for our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week last week. Our faculty, staff, and Leadership Team continue to go above and beyond each day to deliver a remote learning program that provides academic continuity, time for meaningful social connection for your children, and opportunities to continue their Jewish development. We remain incredibly proud of the entire Hillel community for how we have come together during this unprecedented challenge.
     
    We want to thank the parents who filled out the feedback survey on our remote learning program. Even as we remain fully committed to continually improving our program for the remainder of the current school year, we have also begun our preparations for the 2020-2021 school year and we write to you today with an update.
     
    We have every hope and expectation of returning to in-person learning at our campus in the Fall. However, given the uncertainties about the course of the pandemic, no final decisions regarding when we will return to our facility can yet be officially made. While we are all eager to return to our incredible campus, the health and safety of our community will remain paramount as we embark on the planning process for next year. We are planning for several possibilities for the 2020 - 2021 academic year that will be consistent with local, state, and federal guidelines and regulations. While life at Hillel might not return to exactly as it was before COVID-19, we are certain that our community will bring ingenuity, passion, and determination to answering questions of how to adapt to our new normal that preserves the neshama (soul) of Hillel Day School.
     
    With this in mind, we want to lay out the principles that will guide our decision-making going forward and the planning process as it stands now.
     
    Our mission remains unchanged. Whether instruction takes place throughout the coming year in-person, virtually, or with a hybrid modality, we are committed to inspiring ...
     
    A Passion for Learning
     
    We will maintain academic excellence in General Studies, Judaic Studies, and the Hebrew language so that your children continue to make academic progress, learn, and thrive in ways that are innovative, engaging, individual, and personalized. The Leadership Team and a committee of teachers will devote significant time in the early summer to evaluating our remote learning program and making improvements based on best educational practices and feedback from teachers, parents, and students. We will ensure that Hillel’s Remote Learning Program emphasizes creativity, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, community, and our core Jewish values.
     
    Responsibility to Self and Community
     
    Our kehillah (community) is our greatest strength. We will be developing new and creative ways for Hillel students and parents to safely gather virtually or in-person so that we can maintain close connections with our classmates, our teachers, our community, and of course, our Jewish heritage. We will strive to ensure that the social, emotional, and mental health needs of our students continue to be met. 
     
    Devotion to Jewish Living
     
    Our commitment to inspiring our students’ devotion to Jewish living is more important than ever. Our Jewish tradition and rituals provide meaning and offer a framework to maintain community and provide stability in unsettling times. We will continue to bring meaningful Jewish experiences and holiday celebrations to our students to enhance their Jewish lives. 
     
    The planning process will be informed by the work of three committees (composed of administrators, teachers, and representatives from the Board of Trustees) who will soon begin meeting to examine all aspects of school life for 2020 - 2021.
     
    • The Campus Reopening Task Force will address school operations, health, hygiene, safety, and facilities so that we are prepared to follow government guidelines once our campus can safely reopen.
    • The Academic Continuity and Excellence Task Force will address all aspects of teaching and learning, Jewish life and living, and student wellness.
    • The Financial Planning Task Force will address enrollment management, fundraising, and other budgetary issues. 
     
    When our campus reopens, several members of the Campus Reopening Task Force will supervise daily health screenings of faculty, staff, and students, physical distancing protocols, and cleaning and disinfection according to all CDC and government regulations.
     
    We are seeking input on best practices from leading ECC to grade 12 educational organizations including the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, and Independent School Management (ISM). Many of us participate regularly in webinars sponsored by these organizations. 
     
    We are committed to maintaining ongoing communication with you that is informative, transparent, and honest. As part of this effort, we will host additional town halls in the near future to address your questions and concerns.
     
    The challenge ahead of us will require our utmost commitment to our children's education, to each other, and to Hillel Day School, as well as adaptability, patience, kindness, and compassion. Working with one another, and with unwavering faith, we will safely emerge from these uncharted waters together as a strong and unified community, in pursuit of our noble mission. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, says “Change is not threatening, so long as we keep firm hold of the values by and for which we live. We can travel with confidence so long as we have a map.” As a Hillel community, we will hold firm to our values and continue providing an outstanding education for our children. 
     
    Best wishes for continued good health and with gratitude for your partnership,
     
    Naty Katz                                        Dr. Darin Katz
    Interim Head of School                     Incoming Head of School  

    of School  

  • May 12, 2020 - Summer Camp Update

    We hope you and your family are doing well and had a wonderful Mother’s Day. We are thinking of you and looking forward to summer camp at Hillel Day School ECC. 
     
    We are very eager for camp and know that you are too. As always, our priority is to have a safe and fun camp, with health precautions at a heightened level this summer. We know there is so much uncertainty in the world right now, especially in regards to summer plans. We feel it too. At the present time, we are waiting for guidance and recommendations from the State of Michigan with regard to the status of the Stay at Home Order and guidelines for gathering and from the CDC for best practices to operate our day camp for children two-to-five years of age.  
     
    While we await these recommendations, it is our hope that Hillel’s campers will enjoy an amazing experience this summer, as in the past. We are eager for camp and everything it provides - socialization with friends, interaction with amazing counselors, and exploration outside. We are also aware that social reconnection is badly needed. Our staff has begun planning for what camp might look like taking various scenarios into account. 

    During this period of uncertainty, we appreciate your patience as we work to make the most informed and safe decisions for your children and our community. At this point, here is what we can tell you: 
     
    We will continue to update you as soon as information and decisions become available. 
     
    If we can open camp on June 15th and you have already made a deposit, this deposit will go toward camp, and balance will be due on the first day of camp. If you have not yet made a deposit and your child is signed up for camp beginning June 15, full payment will be due the first day of camp.
     
    • If we have to cancel sessions, we will refund any deposits made for those applicable sessions and work with families to enroll campers in later sessions, with priority given to enrolled campers.
    • If we must cancel camp, you will either receive a refund of your deposit or a credit towards school tuition. 
     
    Feel free to contact me with any questions. We will be in touch as soon as we have new information. 
     
    Stay well. We miss you! And hope to see you soon.
     
    Robin
  • May 11, 2020 - 2020-2021 Class Placements

    Dear Parents,

    As the current school year nears its end, many of you may be thinking about class placements for next year. Please take a moment to read the questions and answers below.
     
    How are students placed in classes?
    When we create class lists we always consider the individual child while recognizing that each child is also part of a larger community of learners.  Great consideration is given to the mix of academic ability, social growth and development, individual needs, student - student connections, student - teacher connections, and gender. The current classroom teachers, social workers, and learning specialists provide pertinent information regarding each student’s individual needs. All attempts are made to balance classes in order to optimize student learning and success.
     
    Can parents request placement in a particular classroom?
    We respectfully ask that parents not ask for a particular teacher for their child. There are far too many, and interrelated, factors to be considered when constructing a classroom as a whole to be able to accommodate specific teacher assignment requests.  As stated above, a great deal of time and thought goes into the best environment for each child.  It is important that parents trust the school.
     
    When will students and parents be notified of class placement?
    For grades K-4, individual student assignments will be e-mailed to you in late August, before the school year begins. Students in grades 5-8 will receive their schedules on the first day of school.

    Please remember that there is much to be worked out for the next school year.  The traditional set-up of classes may be different than usual.  We will communicate with you throughout the process of creating a plan for the 2020 - 2021 school year.
     
    Thank you for your support,
     
    Melissa Michaelson
    Principal
     
  • April 3, 2020 - Sad News from Our Community

    Dear Hillel Community, 

    We are writing to share devastating news with you. Our long-time staff member and friend, our beloved Coach Tony Sanders, passed away yesterday evening due to complications from the coronavirus.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his dear wife, Leslie, and his loving sons, Kevin and Derek, at this very difficult time. We understand that our inability to physically be together makes it even harder to mourn this significant loss as a community. We will, however, organize a virtual memorial service so that we can come together to pay our respects and remember Tony, as well as to provide an opportunity to support and comfort his wonderful family.

    School Social Workers and Grief Counselors will be available to support students and staff. Any families and alumni who need assistance can reach out to Kim Love, Director of Student Services, at klove@hillelday.org to schedule a time to be connected with individual support.

    As a community, we come together for one another in times of both happiness and sorrow. This is a moment where we are experiencing the profound loss of a beloved member of our school community. There is a traditional psalm,biblical passage, Psalm 23 (below), which is customarily read after the passing of a loved one. It is appropriate to say this passage in honor and memory of Tony at this time.

    We will update you as soon as we have more information about funeral arrangements, ways to support the family, and Hillel’s plans to honor and memorialize our wonderful coach, friend, and role model. 

    May Tony’s memory forever be a blessing.

    Naty Katz                               Rabbi David Fain
    Interim Head of School            Rav Beit Sefer

    Psalm 23

    The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
    He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
    He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
    You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
    you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
    Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
    and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
    forever.

  • April 1, 2020 - Important School Updates from Our Leadership Team

    Dear Parents,

    We hope you and your family are all doing well and staying healthy. We are continually impressed with the resilience of your children and our staff whose dedication to serving our students and families is as strong as ever. We operate from a position of strength with Remote Learning now in its third week throughout the school, serving as an inspiration and model for all schools in our community. 
     
    Extension of Remote Learning Until April 30
     
    Given the most recent extension of social distancing guidelines to April 30, Hillel will continue Remote Learning after Passover break, on April 20. During Passover break, we will have a special itinerary (coming soon!) that contains OPTIONAL recommendations. Please note that these are opportunities for appropriate enrichment activities purely for recreation and are not required. 
     
    While our current plan is to extend Remote Learning through April 30, if Governor Gretchen Whitmer decides to close Michigan public and non-public schools for the rest of the academic year, we are prepared and equipped to continue Remote Learning for the remainder of the school year. We will communicate more details to you if that does indeed happen.  
     
    Our Remote Learning program is an iterative one; we will continue to enhance, adapt, learn, and grow in the ways that best serve our students during these most extraordinary times. In addition, we will continue to explore how to best facilitate engaging and lively special events, and to seek innovative ways to build community for our students and families in the weeks ahead. Our faculty and staff deserve high praise for leaping into this uncharted territory in swift fashion. All recognize that we have a job to do—to continue to educate our students, albeit in an altered environment. 
     
    You, our parents, too, have been gracious, patient, and equally resolved to “learn” remote learning alongside all of us. Juggling work priorities and taking care of family can be challenging during the best of times, and our current circumstances have served to elevate this challenge. Please know that you are not alone. We are grateful for the many ways you have made adjustments to your lives during this time. As we work our way through this unusual situation, we want you to know that we are here for you. Despite the distance between us, our sense of community and camaraderie is still shining through. Please know that our teachers have been uplifted by your kind emails, comments, and encouraging notes. 
     
    Enforcing Campus Closure
     
    To be fully compliant with the Governor’s directive, Hillel’s campus is closed. We may have essential employees on campus from time-to-time to ensure the effective continuance of remote learning and the maintenance of our facilities and grounds. We will communicate new dates and/or virtual events regarding previously planned programs that were to occur during the school year.
     
    ECC Summer Camp
     
    As of today, we are looking forward to another wonderful summer at Hillel’s Camp Funtabulous. If this changes, we will notify our ECC families. If you are interested in camp, please contact Robin Pappas.
     
    Tuition Assistance Reminder
     
    For families already participating in our tuition assistance program, please submit your 2019 Form 1040 to COO John Pitcher as soon as possible in order to receive your 2020-21 tuition assistance award notification. We need to determine your allocations before we can distribute funds to new families seeking assistance. 
     
    Sponsor A Day of Learning
     
    This experience has further reaffirmed our belief that Hillel Day School is more than a school  -- it is an incredibly special second home. Thank you for the support and generosity you have shown through the years; it is through that ongoing commitment and dedication that we have the tools and resources that enable us to pivot, adapt, and keep our students happy, connected, and involved. 
     
    During these trying times, Hillel remains committed to ensuring that any family who desires to provide their child with a Jewish day school education is able to do so. In fact, we have already heard from several families who are concerned about paying tuition, and we are working hard to address their needs. 
     
    To maintain our robust remote learning, and help those families who have been adversely impacted financially by the Coronavirus, we encourage you to Sponsor A Day of Learning for $180. These sponsorships will be announced daily to our students and community and will help to ensure that our incredible teachers are able to provide authentic, meaningful, and engaging remote learning to as many students as possible. For more information about sponsoring a day of learning, please contact Amy Schlussel
     
    The entire Leadership Team thanks you for your continued support and understanding as we work through these challenging times. We know that families have many questions and concerns at this moment. We are committed to sharing additional information with you in the days ahead. In the meantime, stay safe and feel free to contact any of us.
     
    B'shalom,
    Interim Head of School
     
    Principal
     
    Director of Early Education
     
    1-4 Learning Communities Director
     
    5-8 Learning Communities Director
     
    Rav Beit Hasefer and Dean of Judaic Studies
     
    Director of Judaic Studies Curriculum and Instruction
     
    Chief Operation Officer
     
    Director of Advancement
     
    Director of Student Services
  • March 30, 2020 - Tips for Structure During this Unprecedented Time

    Dear Fifth through Eighth Grade Parents,

    Thank you for being such amazing partners these last two weeks during an unprecedented time of change and instability in our community and world. We are so impressed with your children and how seamlessly they have transitioned to remote learning. Our number one priority during this time is your child’s, and your, social and emotional well being. 
     
    We know that each family’s experience is different, yet we are all in this together. We are here to support you, too! Seeing their teachers and peers provides a much-needed connection for our students (and teachers). Continuing their learning provides routine, and gives our students something to look forward to. 
     
    Two weeks into our remote learning, here are some tips and reminders to help you navigate this new adventure: 
    • Create a dedicated workspace for your child(ren) where they can set up their device and have a place to write or read as well.
    • Have your child(ren) attend “class” in a public space in your home so you can see and hear what’s happening - what an opportunity!
    • Sit with your child(ren) and go over the 5-8 Remote Learning Expectations weekly.
    • Create a checklist to hang in your home that helps your child remember to:
      • Attend each class according to the schedule
      • Check Google Classroom for each class of the day, everyday.
      • Check email throughout the day
    • Choose activities to do together on Friday from the Friday schedule (or your own ideas).
    • Engage in conversation about what students are learning and working on daily.
    • Set up family quiet time or reading time if possible; if not, set up a consistent reading time for your child so you don’t have to remind them all day.
     
    These recommendations, together with their remote learning schedule, provide your child with structure and routine, which, in turn, should help you find some semblance of normalcy and calm during this abnormal time. 
     
    We plan to host a Parent Support Group via Zoom with Kim Love, Director of Student Services, and our social workers, in the near future to answer your questions and provide support to YOU, our parents. In the meantime, feel free to reach out directly with any questions or concerns that you may have.
     
    Thank you. Be well.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Barbara Applebaum
  • March 27, 2020 - Community Update - Please Read

    Dear Hillel Families,

    I hope you and your family are well.
     
    I am writing to report to you that we learned late last night that an additional member of our staff has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus and has been hospitalized. While it has been 15 days since this staff member and your children were last in school, on Thursday March 12th, we wanted to share this information with you. 
     
    If you have any questions, please reach out directly to our school nurse, Gail Chynoweth.
     
    Wishing you all a safe and healthy Shabbat Shalom,
     
    Naty
  • March 26, 2020 - Rosh Chodesh Nisan Greeting

    Dear Hillel Families,

    I am writing to extend greetings to you on this special day, Rosh Chodesh, the first day of Nisan. Our Leadership Team has been gratified by the students’ response to the start of remote learning, and we are grateful for all of the messages of support and appreciation that have been pouring in to our teachers, staff, and Leadership Team.
     
    We know that this has been an extremely challenging period for you, monitoring your children’s learning even as you continue to balance your professional responsibilities with your personal needs. Please feel free to reach out to your child’s teacher, to our social workers, or to any member of the Leadership Team for support.  We are all here, ready to help!
     
    The Talmud in Tractate Rosh Hashanah (11A) teaches:
     
    "בניסן נגאלו בניסן עתידין ליגאל"
     
    “In Nisan, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt.
     In Nisan in the future, the Jewish people will again be redeemed.”
     
    May this new month of Nisan bring good health and blessing to our entire community!
     
    Warmest regards,
    Naty
  • March 26, 2020 - Recommended Friday Schedule - New!

    Fifth-Eighth Grade Parents
    Dear Fifth-Eighth Grade Parents,

    As we mentioned in our Town Hall, we have been working on revamping the Friday schedule. This new schedule is recommended, but not mandatory, as we believe that your children could benefit from a mental break on Fridays during this situation and emphasize the value of playing outside, creating fun family games, or preparing a Shabbat meal together.
     
    Our new Friday schedule incorporates creative outlets such as computer science and mindfulness. It suggests connections to students' Shabbat Mishapachot, allows for movement, and also allows time to complete unfinished work from the week and iReady. Please use this link to incorporate this schedule into your routine! The link will also be posted on each grade's Google Classroom by Friday at 9:00 a.m.
     
    We will continue to adapt as needed, and we appreciate your feedback.
     
    Thank you,
     
    Barbara Applebaum
  • March 20, 2020 - Community Update

    We are writing to inform you that, thank God, the COVID-19 test results for the teacher who had interaction with many of our students have come back as negative.  
     
    Dear Parents,

    We will continue to keep you updated.
     
    Shabbat Shalom,
     
    Naty Katz
    Interim Head of School
  • March 19, 2020 - Community Update

    Dear Parents,

    We are writing to inform you that a member of our Hillel parent community has informed us that they have tested positive for COVID-19. The parent was most recently in the lobby of our school building on Wednesday, March 11. 
     
    This parent reports having a runny nose and otherwise being asymptomatic, which reinforces the importance that all members of our community, at Hillel and beyond, should be staying home during this pandemic to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of everyone. 
      
    Please refer to Hillel’s COVID-19 website page for more information about home isolation and guidelines for care. 
     
    We look forward to “seeing” you tonight at the Town Hall. 
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Naty Katz
    Interim Head of School
  • March 18, 2020 - Town Hall Tomorrow Evening

    Dear Parents.

    It has been tremendously uplifting today to observe all the learning taking place; hundreds of students participating in morning tefillot; the dedication of our amazing staff; and our students’ excitement in reconnecting with friends and teachers. In the beginning, we may experience technical glitches with remote learning resources. Thank you for your patience with your children and our school as we all adjust to our new normal. Our teachers and staff continue to work extremely hard to ensure that learning proceeds and that our communities stay connected. We appreciate all that you are doing at home, as well.
     
    First and foremost, we have yet to receive test results back on all of the teachers referenced in our March 15 email. Happily, one test result is negative. As soon as we receive more results, we will communicate them to you.
     
    We will host a virtual Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, March 19 from 7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. to review the first days of remote learning, listen to your feedback, and answer your questions. In order to manage the town hall and move along in an efficient manner, please submit your questions in advance here by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 19. We will attempt to answer all questions during the town hall. Questions can also be submitted via chat during the town hall, however, priority will be given to the questions submitted in advance. Questions that are not answered during the town hall will be addressed in another forum. Log into the town hall here.
     
    We recognize that it may be challenging to have your children home for what may be weeks. We have created a coronavirus page on our website that provides access to our communications and resources for children and parents that can hopefully reduce some stress and anxiety. 
     
    Additionally, to ensure that all parents are receiving school communications during this time, including emails and text messages, please log onto MyHillel with your username and password. Please find yourself in the Parents & Students Directory, click “options,” and click “contact card.” Once the contact card is open, you may edit your information using the pencil icon, if necessary, to make sure that a current email address and cell number are listed. Click “save” when finished. If your spouse/partner is not receiving emails, please share this information with them.
     
    We look forward to “seeing” you tomorrow night.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Melissa
  • March 17, 2020 - Community and Hope. Better Together.

    Dear Parents.

    As we look back over the past few days, we can all agree that it qualifies as one of the most surreal, chaotic, and stressful times in our lives. While our community and nation are in the midst of a public health crisis, it is also important for us to take a deep breath, pause, and recognize what has brought us hope and comfort during these unprecedented times - our community.
     
    Amidst all the tumult, the strength and beauty of the Hillel Day School community have shined. We are thankful for the outpouring of support from staff, students, and parents for our colleague who, we are happy to report, is feeling better and is recovering at home. We shed happy tears as our community came together - albeit virtually - to celebrate the moments that define why Hillel exists: 67 families lit Shabbat candles together last Friday, and 94 families marked Havdalah yesterday. Our hearts swell with an appreciation for our incredible teachers who have spent countless hours preparing for remote learning, most going above and beyond by directly communicating with their students last Friday, and receiving heartwarming responses in return. In the coming days and weeks, we will share a glimpse into these incredible connections that cannot be weakened virtually.
     
    Overall, these are tough times. Quite understandably, there is much disappointment over the multitude of postponed and canceled events. There is frustration that the hard work and dedication of our students may never be able to be displayed. There is sadness in saying l’hitraot (or, hopefully, see you soon) to our wonderful shinshinim, Noa and Yuval, who were ordered back to Israel. There is uncertainty about whether our eighth-graders will be able to celebrate the culmination of their Hillel experience in Israel, and we share in their extreme dismay should the trip be canceled.
     
    Yet there is hope. Hope that the grit and resilience we instill in our students will be evident and grow stronger. Hope that our community will learn from each other, even child to parent as we invite parents to observe their children’s remote learning. Hope that our core Jewish values, especially Derech Eretz (respect for all) and K’lal Yisrael (the unity of the Jewish people), will guide and support one another, and all those in need. 
     
    And who would have predicted that the devices that are the objects of such battles with our children would become such vital tools? Social connections are a critical part of who we are. We are all accustomed to coming together. Our students rely on these moments, as well. The beauty of observing our students already engaging in Google Hangouts with their advisor, or in circle time with their ECC teachers, are simply incredible. We are excited for our parents to now get a glimpse of the magic that happens at Hillel every single day. 
     
    As our community, our city, and our nation continue to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic, Hillel remains committed to inspiring a passion for learning and innovation, and to being a “place” for deep and meaningful relationships. Despite the physical distance this virus has placed between us, we will continue to create opportunities for our students and families to bring sacred learning into their lives.
     
    This will be new, this will be different, this will take time, and it might be hard. Let’s appreciate the fortune of our health, our community, our teachers, and our children. May we all be blessed with good health during this uncertain time, and be thankful for the community that we have built, and which will see us through this period of time.
     
    Thinking of you all,
     
    Amy Schlussel
    Director of Advancement 
  • March 16, 2020 - Our Remote Learning Plan - Fifth through Eighth Grade

    Dear Fifth through Eighth Grade Parents
    Wednesday marks another first day of school for the Hillel community! We know these are uncertain and trying times, and we are looking forward to providing familiar faces, and safe virtual spaces, for your children throughout their week. We are aware that each day looks different for each family right now and, as we adapt to our "new normal," we will treat one another with grace and good intention. 
     
    In this email, you will find information about many aspects of our 5-8 Remote Learning Plan. Your child’s teachers will also reach out directly as we begin this new adventure.
     
    HIGHLIGHTS
    • Students will have an abbreviated “schedule” where they will attend live Google Meets or engage in posted video lessons with 3-4 teachers a day, including Advisory twice a week.
    • All lessons and communication will be pushed out to students via Google Classroom. Students should also check their email daily.
    • Students can expect to have “homework” only from the classes scheduled that day.
    • They will also be expected to spend one hour reading (this can include reading for their classes and for enjoyment) and to spend at least 20 minutes per day reading/practicing Ivrit reading or vocabulary.
    • Students can expect a short video message from a teacher or their advisor every morning Monday through Thursday.
    • Various creative, physical and social-emotional tips, activities, and lessons will be pushed out throughout the week as well.
    The information they need to launch remote learning on Wednesday, March 18, is here
     
    OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION
     
    Fridays: Fridays will be schoolwide fun days, with creative design challenges and activities. Students will not meet with any teacher via Google Meet, but instead, there will be a video message and note about the creative activity and other enriching pursuits. Students and their families are encouraged to participate every Friday! 
     
    Weekly Connection Opportunities: Hopefully you were able to “jump in” on the Shabbat candlelighting this past Friday evening, and the Havdalah service on Monday morning. Rabbi Fain will have weekly ways to engage the entire Hillel community via Zoom. Additionally, we will have live morning announcements at 8:50 a.m. each morning, and students are encouraged to attend morning tefillot Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 9:00 a.m. after announcements.
     
    Flexibility: Technology glitches occur. Unexpected challenges arise. We understand that every family’s circumstance is different. Please reach out to teachers as needed. We expect some obstacles along the way, and we will be agile as we address and overcome them!
     
    Needs: If you have any needs or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. We have resources for helping children (and adults) through this challenging and confusing time. Barbara Kenny and Kim Love have been preparing ways to help Hillel students continue to grow socially and emotionally. If there are logistical or essential needs that you have, reach out as well, and we will do our best to help provide support. 
     
    We will communicate regularly with our school community during these trying times, and ask that you do the same. We are all in this together, and we will work tirelessly to give our students the best possible experience. Please let me know how I can help.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Barbara Applebaum
  • March 16, 2020 - Our Remote Learning Plans - First through Fourth Grade Parents

    Dear First through Fourth Grade Parents
    We are about to embark on quite a journey as we transition from in-person instruction to remote learning, and amidst a lot of concern for our community and world. Fortunately, we have dedicated teachers who have been thinking about your children and their remote learning time, eager to make it an engaging educational experience. 
     
    Tomorrow, each grade level teacher will send students a video message that prepares them to launch their learning on Wednesday morning. Students in Grades 1-4 will not have a set schedule. Instead, they will have lessons in the Daily Learning Plan be completed daily, at their own pace. All lessons and communication will be pushed out to students via Seesaw. 
     
    Monday-Thursday: There will be a Daily Learning Plan (DLP) pushed out on Seesaw at 9:00 a.m. each morning for each grade. The DLP will note the lessons and activities for the day. There will be two General Studies lessons/activities and one Judaic Studies lesson/activity Monday-Thursday. Students are also required to read for 30 minutes each day. Additionally, specialty teachers will push out lessons each day. Look for video messages from specialty teachers with more information. 
     
    Friday: Fridays will be schoolwide fun days, with creative design challenges and activities. The DLP will not be pushed out on Fridays, but instead, there will be a video message and a note about the creative activity and other enriching pursuits. 
     
    Weekly Connection Opportunities: Hopefully you were able to “jump in” on the Shabbat candlelighting this past Friday evening, and the Havdalah service on Monday. Rabbi Fain will have weekly ways to engage the entire Hillel community via Zoom. Additionally, we will have live morning announcements at 8:50 a.m. each morning. 
     
    Flexibility: Technology glitches do occur. Unexpected challenges arise. We understand that every family's circumstances are different. Please reach out to teachers as needed. We anticipate obstacles, and will be agile as we adjust and work through them.
     
    Needs: If you have any needs or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out to me. We have resources for helping children (and adults) through this challenging and confusing time. Harrison Leibow and Kim Love have been preparing ways to help Hillel students continue to grow socially and emotionally. If there are logistical or essential needs that you have, please reach out as well, and we will do our best to help provide support. 
     
    We will communicate regularly with our school community during these trying times, and ask that you do the same. We are all in this together, and we will work tirelessly to give our students the best possible experience. Please let me know how I can help.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    Andrea Jenkins
  • March 16, 2020 - Our Remote Learning Plan - Early Childhood Education

    ECC and Kindergarten Parents
    We are all living through a situation that is unprecedented, and stressful for everyone. But let's remember - we are in this together!  
     
    It is very important to us to stay connected to your child, and to your family.  We are working on making our connections meaningful and productive. 
     
    As they have already begun to do, ECC teachers will send messages, videos, and activities through Remini. We will continue to connect for Shabbat and for Havdalah as a community. 
     
    Kindergarten teachers will send lessons, and activities, including in phonics, math, and Judaic Studies, through Seesaw. We will continue to connect for tefillah as a community.
     
    Specialty teachers will also send activities through Remini and Seesaw.
     
    As we navigate through these difficult times, please be kind to yourselves.  Don’t expect more than your child or you can handle. Set a routine, and maintain a schedule for your family.  We all have the opportunity to make an unknown situation into a learning opportunity. 
     
    You will be hearing more from your child’s teachers on Tuesday explaining what remote learning will look like.  We are part of an amazing community! We pull together in times of crisis and support one another. We are better together!
     
    Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions.  We are here for you! Please send me pictures, and let’s see how much lemonade we can make!
     
    Take care! 
     
    We miss you,
     
    Robin
  • Sunday, March 15, 2020 - Community Update

    Dear Families.

    We understand and share the anxiety that you are all likely feeling. As indicated in our communication from this past Friday, at least one more teacher in the school who interacts with many of our students has reported feeling ill, and has sought testing for COVID-19. We have now learned that additional staff have sought testing as well. We do not yet have test results back on additional teachers. As soon as we receive results, we will promptly provide all relevant information to everyone in the community. Please know that we are communicating all the information we can, and everything we learn, as promptly as possible. We caution against reliance on social media, rumors, and speculation, and instead encourage everyone to read our emails carefully.

    While we await the test results, we strongly suggest that all members of our community, in excess of CDC recommendations, begin self-quarantine until we receive the test results. We will notify you immediately upon receipt of the results. Quarantine is a proactive measure defined by the CDC as separating and restricting the movement of people who are exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. 

    We believe that pikuach nefesh, saving a life, overrides all other concerns. By slowing the spread of COVID-19, we have a chance to protect those family, friends, and neighbors who are at risk for severe illness. 

    It is also important to remember that Michigan is currently in the height of cold, flu, and RSV season. If you are concerned about symptoms you and your child may have, the following infographic may help:

     
    Two local coronavirus hotlines are available, if you feel you, your child, or a loved one may have symptoms of COVID-19. These are not general information hotlines. These are for patients who feel they may have symptoms. They are staffed by trained medical professionals who will triage your symptoms, and direct you to proper testing and possible treatment facilities. The hotlines are:

    Henry Ford Health System
    (313) 874-5700
    The line is open 24 hours per day

    Beaumont Health
    (248) 551-7000
    The line is open Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

    In the event that any parents, children, or siblings undergo testing for COVID-19, please send a confidential email to Gail Chynoweth, RN as soon as possible. These communications will be kept completely confidential, and will allow us to keep accurate information so we can follow up with those families, and keep our community informed and protected.

    In the coming days and weeks, let’s all support and care for each other in any way possible — even if that has to occur in more virtual ways than in-person. Let’s only share information that we know to be accurate and helpful. Our community will rise to the occasion, together, as we have when faced with other challenges. 

    We will continue to provide updates as we obtain additional information.
     
    Further communication about remote learning will be sent separately as soon as information is finalized. 
     
    Sincerely,
    Naty Katz
  • Friday, March 13, 2020 - Remote Learning

    Dear Families,

    Over the past week, significant time was spent putting into place a plan to address the possible need for remote learning.  Teachers were trained in a variety of tools they will use to communicate with your children. These tools include:

    • ECC: Teachers will post notes and updates as well as suggested activities to explore with children through Remini.  
    • Kindergarten through Fourth Grade: Teachers will communicate learning opportunities and messages through Seesaw.
    • Fifth through Eighth Grade: Teachers will communicate learning opportunities and messages through Google Classroom and Google Hangouts Meet.

    We intend to begin remote learning on Wednesday.  Much of the learning will be delivered via online tools; however, the learning experiences will include a variety of ways to engage, including hands-on activities that can be shared with the teacher. Our goal is for students to continue to develop their skills during this period of time and to stay easily connected with their teachers.

    Complete plans will be shared with you prior to beginning remote learning.  In the meantime, your children may have already received messages and video calls to say Shabbat Shalom from their teachers!  We all want to stay as closely (virtually) united as possible.

    Once remote learning begins, if you need technical support, please contact Marnie Diem.  For clarifications of activity directions, please contact your child’s teacher directly.

    Shabbat Shalom,

    The Leadership Team
  • Friday, March 13, 2020 - Closure Update

    Dear Families. 

    As promised, we are reaching out in order to keep you informed of the quickly changing COVID-19 situation. 

    Update:
     
    Currently, one of the teachers in our 1-2 Learning Community has COVID-19. As a result of the presumptive positive test, we closed school immediately until further notice. 

    It is important to inform you that at least one other staff member who has interaction with many students is being tested. Test results will not be available for at least three daysWe will immediately inform you of the outcome of the test.  We suggest that all parents contact their primary care physician to determine if your child should commence quarantine.

    We have spoken this morning to a prominent infectious disease doctor in our community. His recommendation is that everyone in the country, not just Hillel Day School constituents, practice social distancing, and avoid groups of 30 or more. He also wants to remind us that it is flu season, and that many of us will experience similar symptoms that are not COVID-19. Please contact your primary care physician regarding testing protocols.  

    Many are wondering if you or your student should enter “self-quarantine” and/or be tested. As an educational institution, we cannot make medical recommendations or decisions. We strongly encourage you to reach out to your doctor for guidance. If you or your child are experiencing any symptoms of illness, please contact your healthcare provider immediately for advice and possible screening. An easy way to stay informed about coronavirus is to sign up for CDC updates here.
     
    How You Can Help:
     
    As a community, we will face more cases of COVID-19, and we hope that moving to a remote learning model and social distancing will help flatten this pandemic. We ask our families to do their part by not hosting or attending social gatherings of more than 30 people and to avoid large, public venues. 
     
    Good Hygiene
    * Wash your hands often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds 
    * Use hand sanitizers, especially after using the restroom or touching common area surfaces such as doorknobs, railings, and countertops.
    * Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And please do get a flu shot if you have not already.
     
    Self-Quarantine
    If you have any symptoms such as fever or upper respiratory issues, or if you have been exposed to COVID-19, please self-quarantine until you have been cleared of the virus. We have a responsibility to our community to take great care to keep each other healthy.
     
    Student Materials/Devices:

    1st - 4th-grade families requesting a technology device: Please check your email later today for a message from Marnie Diem with further details.

    We understand students need to retrieve items from their lockers, and learning materials from their community. At this time, school is closed, and we will be in touch with further information regarding an opportunity to pick up those items.

    Remote Learning:

    Our Leadership Team will communicate with you about preparing and training faculty and students for remote learning. Expect bumps along the road as we adjust and tweak our delivery model. Teachers are working to ensure the smoothest transition possible for every child. As technology issues will invariably arise as we embark on this endeavor, our first recommendation is to see if the issue can be easily remedied at home. If not, please contact your student’s teacher or Marnie Diem directly regarding the issue. Remember, we are all in this together, learning as we go forward.
     
    We appreciate your patience as this public health crisis continues to unfold. There is nothing more important to us than the safety and well-being of our students, their families, our faculty, and community. Our decisions are guided by the facts, and the advice of experts in public health and medicine. 
     
    One last, but very important, note. Even as we understand the desire to collect information is overwhelming when there are so many unanswered questions, let us remember that we are a community, and need to be respectful of one another; it is one of our core values. This is a time to show chesed and utmost kindness to one another, and to act with derech eretzLashon hara (gossip) can lead to the spread of misinformation, increased anxiety, and detrimental spiritual isolation. To the contrary, this is a moment for us all to pull together. Our community has been challenged before. With God’s help, and your support, we will continue to go from strength to strength.

    We deeply appreciate your partnership as we work through this uncharted territory together.

    Shabbat Shalom.

    Sincerely,
    Naty Katz
    Interim Head of School
  • Thursday, March 12, 2020 - Closure

    Dear Families. 

    We are writing to inform you that, unfortunately, one of the teachers in our 1-2 Learning Community has tested a presumptive positive for COVID-19. Hillel Day School will be closed beginning tomorrow, Friday, March 13, and alongside all Michigan schools, per Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s declaration tonight, until further notice. We continue to be in very close contact with the Oakland County Health Division. Officials there are monitoring the situation very closely, and we are following their guidelines.

    At this time, it is recommended that parents with questions should contact their personal physician or the Oakland County Communicable Disease Division at 248-858-1286. Please feel free to reach out as well to Gail Chynoweth, RN with any questions.


    We recognize that this development may cause anxiety for you and your children. It is important to remain calm as we move forward together. We stand ready to help you in any way possible.

    We extend a refuah shleimah to anyone affected.
    This communication is intended to be a quick update. More detailed information will be forthcoming by noon tomorrow.

    Sincerely,
    Naty Katz
    Interim Head of School

Beaumont Health Updates

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  • March 20, 2020 - Beaumont committed to transparency with the community, will share daily COVID-19 test and admission statistics effective immediately

    Read More
  • March 18, 2020 Beaumont Health launched a free online COVID-19

    Read More

Hillel Staff Contacts

Health and Facilities:
Educational Team:
Admissions:
Social and Emotional Support:
  • Director of Student Services: Kim Love

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  • isacs

  • ism

  • jewish federation

  • naeyc

  • nais

  • prizmah

Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit
32200 Middlebelt Road | Farmington Hills, MI 48334

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