As we continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 (the novel Coronavirus) in other parts of the country and across the globe, safety and health remain our top priorities at the J. Two weeks ago, our staff met to convene a task force focused on this area of emerging concern, and we have established cleaning practices and adaptive plans designed to address the changing circumstances we are all navigating. I know this is an unsettling time, and anxiety levels for many are high. Maine CDC reminds us that the risk in Maine is low right now, which has given us time to prepare in many ways.
We are working with the Center for Disease Control at both the national and state level, and are communicating regularly with local governmental leadership to ensure protocols and policies throughout our organization are up-to-date and effective. We also have the benefit of sharing resources with and learning from the experiences of our colleagues at JCC’s and Federations around the country.
Even in the event of a closure of all or part of the JCA, plans are being laid for meaningful ways we can stay in touch with you and continue to serve as a resource to the community. Through the magic of the internet, our teachers could continue to read stories to their students, staff could work from home, community groups could gather virtually, MKJFS could continue to support work being done for those in need, and we could even host remote speaker events!
As the situation changes, we will continue to update you on an active basis. For now, here are some of the strategies we are currently employing at the JCA:
- We have signs posted throughout our space reminding people of the importance of hand washing.
- Gel hand-sanitizers are placed in each room.
- Extra disinfecting procedures have been instituted across the entire building.
- Extra wipe downs of “high touch” areas such as door handles have also been instituted, happening several times a day.
The following precautions will help our community stay healthy:
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- If you have concerns that you or a family member are exhibiting signs of COVID-19, do NOT go to your doctor’s office or the Emergency Room/Urgent Care without calling first. That way, when deemed appropriate, they will be ready to whisk you into an isolated room so that you don’t inadvertently subject other waiting room patients to your illness. Do not send children with fevers and flu-like symptoms to school.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who you know are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or sleeve.
Additional information and updated resources from the City of Portland is available here: http://www.portlandmaine.gov/2582/COVID-19-Information
Our tradition offers us valuable and durable lessons for navigating times like these. As Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s epigram states, “The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge and the main thing is to have no fear at all.” Despite incredible, sometimes rationally insurmountable challenges, Klal Yisrael (the Jewish people) have persevered and persisted. This is the month of Adar, traditionally a time of great joy. When we reject fear and isolation, when we prioritize and find joy, we can truly change the world. We can appreciate one another, and all we have, while preparing for what comes next. And whatever we are facing, the JCA will do everything we can to continue to offer meaningful opportunities to make connections, learn new things, gather wisdom and build capacity.
And for now, many classes, clubs, and programs will continue to be offered the J, including this weekend’s concert with our own Sara Hallie Richardson!
Thank you for helping to strengthen our community. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns, and I hope to see you soon.
Molly Curren Rowles