Dear 8th grade families,
It is with a heavy heart that we announce that we will not be travelling to Israel with the 8th grade class as scheduled this Sunday.
As a leadership team, in concert with Keshet our tour provider, we have been working to understand all of the dimensions of what an Israel trip could look like given the growth of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). There are many considerations that we examined including our ability to adjust the program to allow for greater rest, regular handwashing, and other hygienic measures to prevent the spread of viruses. We also examined contingency planning with Keshet in the event of an outbreak in Israel or around the world. Finally, we were exploring what might happen if and when the global spread of COVID-19 reaches a level where countries, including Israel, take precautionary measures to limit travel within Israel, into Israel, and in the most extreme circumstance out of the country. As you may have seen in the news today, Israel issued a travel advisory to its citizens not to travel outside the country. This represents one of the most extreme warning by a country to its own citizens. It is impossible to predict what Israel’s next step might be if the global situation changes.
All in all, there were simply too many unknowns. We have no idea what the next three weeks will look like and what the growth of COVID-19 will be globally, regionally, or in Israel or America. We also recognize that Israel's policies have made it one of the safest places in the world in safeguarding against the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, because Israel takes so many precautions we don't know what its policies might look like if there is a significant global uptick in the virus. As we engaged in contingency planning with our team, the scenarios of us being quarantined or grounded in Israel did not feel like risks we were willing to take.
I've spoken with Keshet extensively today and tonight. They will work with us to reschedule the trip later in the spring (May) if the situation changes, and we feel comfortable going.
I know you all have many questions right now. Please know that we are working on plans to answer them as fast as possible.
We will be gathering the 8th grade students to speak with them tomorrow either before or after Tefillah. We know many of you were planning on joining us for a Tefillat Haderech (blessing for travel) tomorrow. We would like to invite all 8th grade parents to join us for a discussion after Tefillah in the Gesher Room to answer questions, listen to all of you, and discuss how we can support our students during this time.
We hope you can understand how challenging this decision was to make. We also want you to know how disappointed we are and how much we care for your students in this moment.