Learning During the Pandemic — How SAE Coped with the Challenges of COVID-19

By Eitan Moran, Executive Director of SAE

The pandemic period involved complex challenges for the schools and residences of the Society for Advancement of Education, both in the academic and emotional-therapeutic spheres. SAE educational institutions responded quickly with creative solutions, while developing a system of distance learning and preserving personal connections and treating students with warmth and inclusivity.

The schools transitioned to hybrid learning that integrates distance and in-person learning. They built flexible schedules, integrated synchronous and asynchronous lessons and used technological tools. The schools that were already organized with tablets for each student throughout the year made the transition more smoothly. For schools that did not have this capacity, the SAE arranged for laptops and computers for the students.

Alongside the “regular” learning, the educational staff initiated numerous original projects and examples of creative thinking such as cooking workshops, art and writing projects through Zoom, movement and physical education activities, lectures and meetings with inspirational figures, games and even joint online prayer. Meaningful ceremonies, such as ceremonies for Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) and Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), and even graduation ceremonies for 12th grade, were conducted on Zoom or livestreamed on Facebook.

The social and emotional aspect was also addressed with great sensitivity during this period, through initiating personal conversations, online social meetings in small groups and class discussions and through professional therapy from social workers and the therapeutic staff at the residences. In cases where the family was unable to provide suitable solutions for students from the residences, the students returned to the residences and lived there during the shutdown period, with attention paid to their nutritional, social and emotional needs and assistance with quarantine as needed.

The system of learning coordinators in the learning centers at the schools and residences continued to operate throughout the shutdown period, and the students, subject teachers and many volunteers provided extra lessons and tutoring assistance on a regular basis. The social workers, counselors and therapeutic staff at the schools and residences also increased their activities, were available online and followed up individually with students whom the educational staff identified as in need of additional individual support.

The SAE also organized and distributed shopping vouchers to families in need.

This challenging period, which will apparently continue for some time, has shown us once again the professional and personal abilities of our educational staff, their flexibility and creativity, their initiative and innovation, their spirit and their uncompromising dedication in providing optimal support to youth in unexpected and challenging situations.

Support the SAE Student Assistance Fund that provided food, transportation, other basic necessities and computers for online learning to more than 100 students.

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