Dear Shalom, JCC Kids, and aquatics families,
We had a meeting of the JCC Board of Directors last week and discussed reopening timing for Shalom and JCC Kids. Unfortunately, while we are under a Stay-at-Home Order, we do not have the option to open the pool. The board’s conversation was guided by information from a variety of sources, including input from Shalom teachers and JCC Kids group leaders, as well as details from a conversation that Kate and I had with Dr. Jennifer Mullendore and Fletcher Tove specific to the JCC and our programs.
Based on all the factors we could gather (current state/local orders, teacher safety and input, family needs, NCDHHS recommendations, JCC financial needs, and input from Dr. Mullendore/Fletcher), the board decided to keep all JCC programs and facilities closed through at least May 15, with a potential Shalom reopening date of May 18. Because local public health officials have made the strong recommendation that Shalom reopen with or before Buncombe County’s “phase one” of reopening, we intend to follow this recommendation. We do not know when the “phase one” reopening will be. We did not receive the same recommendation regarding JCC Kids, and we therefore plan to follow public school closures for that program.Because we are equally committed to our members and their families, our full-time staff team, and the future viability of the Asheville JCC, we will be offering families the same opportunity to convert all or part of their May tuition into a tax-deductible contribution to the JCC’s Emergency Support Fund. We cannot thank you enough for the support that you so generously provided in April — it is currently helping both families and staff during a time of crisis. Please look for a message in the next two days about how to communicate your preference for May’s tuition, fees, and contributions.
I believe that we’re making the decision that’s best for our community given the information that we have. And, to be honest, I also desperately want to open, to see you, to bring my kids to their beloved classrooms, to swim in our awesome pool. In spite of this roller-coaster of thought, and above all, I’m absolutely amazed by the strength of our staff and our community. Thank you for being part of “the J.”
Dear JCC members and families,
We know that you are being inundated with COVID-19 information right now. Out of respect for this, we will be sending email updates regarding programming modifications or closures only to the members directly impacted by each modification/closure. If you are interested in reading more about the Asheville JCC’s most up-to-date responses to COVID-19, please click the COVID-19 link on our homepage.
To make sure that you are an informed member of our community, I’m including below a letter that we sent to Shalom families today about why we opened Shalom with modifications this morning.
Please know that each decision that we make can change at any time, and the best way to know the latest will be to visit our website.
Be well – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Your JCC plans to be here for you, now and in the future.
Dear Shalom and Hilde’s House Parents,
We are in a confusing place in our world right now. I want to provide a little clarity for our Shalom community on why (and how) we are making the decisions to open, modify, or close each JCC program, specifically Shalom.
Why is Shalom/Hilde’s House open when other places, including K-12 schools and JCC Kids, are closed?
The primary reason that Shalom is open is because that is what we have been encouraged to do by the following public health agencies: NC DHHS, Buncombe County Health Department, and North Carolina Department of Child Development and Early Education. Here is the specific language we were provided after the closure of North Carolina’s K-12 schools: “Executive Order #117 did not close child care centers. While many of those centers tie their operations to the local school system, that is not DCDEE regulation, it is a decision made by the owner of the center. They can remain open and DHHS hopes that they do.” We received similar guidance from the North Carolina Department of Child Development and Early Education and the Buncombe County Health Department. We are not public health professionals here at the JCC, and we know that countless factors go into making public recommendations such as these. We trust that our public health professionals have weighed the overall positive and negative impacts of child care center closures on the community at large, and we take seriously the recommendations that they so carefully create.
We also respect the circumstances of our own JCC community, and consider these in our decisions. We respect the Shalom parents who are doctors, nurses, firefighters, and emergency medical services workers who rely on us to be able to go to work to care for those in our community who desperately need them right now. We respect the Shalom parents who are hourly wage workers without paid time off who rely on us to be able to support their family’s financial needs. We respect the health and safety of Shalom grandparents, who are most at risk for COVID-19 and are more likely to be asked to provide emergency childcare if we are not open. We respect our staff who need to work to support their own families. We respect our children who are seeking a sense of normalcy with caregivers that they trust in a time that feels different and sometimes scary.
Why are we doing a health screening at drop-off and dropping off/picking up in front of the building?
We know how confusing this is for our children. These precautions are being implemented based on “Interim Coronavirus Disease 2019 Guidance for Childcare Settings,” published on March 16 by the NC DHHS (https://files.nc.gov/ncdhhs/documents/files/covid-19/NC-Interim-Guidance-for-Child-Care-Settings-3-16-20-Final.pdf). We chose to have Ms. Kate be the first person that families saw this morning because we know that you and your children know and trust her. We have your child’s usual teachers in their classroom, so once they arrived in their class, they should have been able to settle in to their usual routine. As always, please feel free to call your child’s teacher any time to check in on how their day is going. We understand that you may want to do that more than usual right now.
Who makes these decisions?
The JCC’s Executive Director and Board of Directors are ultimately responsible for these decisions. So far, each decision has been made after extensive consultation between the Executive Director, Board President, program directors, and public health officials.
Will Shalom close?
At this point in time, we don’t know. We are monitoring public health recommendations and making assessments for the JCC multiple times per day. We will be transparent and communicative should the time come when we are mandated, guided, or choose to voluntarily close. Staff at every level of the organization is working to create plans so that we will be as prepared as possible in the event of a closure.
How is the JCC taking care of our teachers and staff?
Yesterday, the JCC’s Executive Committee voted to provide all JCC staff with an additional five days of paid sick leave to use if/when they feel sick or feel that they should practice social isolation to protect themselves or others. We are working around the clock to figure out how to mitigate financial impact for staff in the event of a closure.
I was able to see some of you during the health screening at drop-off this morning. I heard many of you say that you are having to make the hardest decisions of your professional lives this week. I know that many of you are anxious, worried, and sad. Please know that our hearts are with you as you navigate the circumstances of your own lives today. For those of you whose children are here today, we will work to ensure that they have a special day with friends and caregivers that they trust. For those of you who chose to keep your children at home today, we miss your smiling faces and look forward to seeing you whenever the time is right to be together at the JCC again.
Dear JCC members and families,
I know that you are hearing from me much more frequently lately, and the information changes at each turn. As you have probably seen, this weekend Governor Cooper issued an Executive Order closing K-12 public schools and banning gatherings of more than 100 people (https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/
- Group, private, and semi-private lessons and swim team will be cancelled for two weeks
- Water aerobics classes will be cancelled for 30 days
- Modified lap swimming will be available, restricted to one person per lane with a 30-minute limit if another swimmer is waiting for a lane.
- Modified Aquatics Center hours will be 7am to 6pm.
Dear JCC members and families,
As recommendations from public health officials change, our JCC stands ready to make programming alterations that are effective but cause the least amount of disruption possible.
Late last night, North Carolina’s governor issued a statement with new recommended restrictions (https://governor.nc.gov/news/north-carolina-recommends-new-steps-protect-against-covid-19). With these in mind, we have decided to make some programmatic changes today that will be in place for the next 30 days, per NC DHHS recommendations.
First, we altered our Shalom Purim celebration so we would not be hosting an assembly or a gathering of more than 100 people in one place. We asked that guests be limited to those on the children’s “safe arrival/departure list” so we can track who came if necessary and because these people are already in daily/weekly contact with the children.
Second, we are cancelling our upcoming adult programming (Brunch B’yahad, TAG dinners, Israeli Book Club, Bridge Club, and Mountain Music Jam) due to the NCHHS’s new recommendations for high-risk persons without symptoms, which happen to be the typical demographic for these programs.
Third, we are limiting the number of children attending the performance by Bright Star Theater next Friday to well under 100.
Please know that these are the thoughts on my mind right now:
- How do we protect the health of our community?
- How do we do everything possible to take care of our staff, members, and families?
- How do we continue to serve as a community center to those who may be experiencing isolation?
As the landscape continues to change, I will continue to provide you with updates and resources. Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh – All of Israel are responsible for each other. We are a strong community, and we will come together in this time of uncertainty to support one another.
Dear JCC families and members,
It feels like the entire world is reacting to COVID-19 around us. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic yesterday, the stock markets are struggling, UNC-system schools are delaying opening from spring break, and the ACC Tournament is happening without fans in the arena.
Here at the JCC, we are trying our best to filter through these developments and react according to advice from public health organizations that we trust: the Centers for Disease Control and Buncombe County Health Department.
So far, the Buncombe County Health Department is not reporting any presumptive positive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County – and official recommendations to protect our local community against COVID-19 have not changed. Recommendations are the following:
- Wash your hands often and thoroughly for at least 20 seconds
- Do not touch your face
- Disinfect surfaces regularly
- Cough/sneeze into your bent elbow or a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately
- Stay home if you are sick
- Self-quarantine (and do not attend JCC programming) if you have traveled to a country with a Level 3 Travel Health Notice
- Practice social distancing if you are part of the higher-risk for COVID-19 population (older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions like: heart disease, diabetes, lung disease)
Here’s what we are currently doing to protect our community at the JCC:
- Disinfecting surfaces (door knobs, counters, light switches) at least three times per day
- Making additional cleaners available to all staff
- Reminding staff and families/members to stay home if they have fever, coughing, or difficulty breathing
- Added four new hand disinfectant stations
- Continued handwashing/germs as learning topics in the classroom
- Posted 40+ signs to remind the community to wash hands frequently
- Propped open non-security doors to limit the number of times the community has to touch the handles
- Postponed new Shalom tours and facility tours for guests
- Cancelled JCC-related travel out-of-state and abroad for staff
We are also creating a reporting mechanism whereby if a staff member or JCC community member has been diagnosed with a communicable virus (like COVID-19), they can report it to the JCC. For now, if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or learn that you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus, please report this information to me at 828-253-0701 x 103 or firstname.lastname@example.org (not in-person at the JCC). We will protect the identity of the person with the illness, follow reporting requirements to keep our community safe, and explore ways to provide support to the person while they have the virus.
Our leadership team is constantly monitoring local and national updates, and communicating internally about COVID-19 daily. We are also in direct communication with the Buncombe County Medical Director and Buncombe County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. We have access to many resources that can help you and your family make sense of the evolving situation, and I am including a list of links below that you may find helpful.
Ashley V. Lasher
Asheville Jewish Community Center
236 Charlotte Street
Asheville NC 28801
Three Jewish Values Reminders (credit: Greenpoint Shul, New York)
“It is easy to fall into glib, prejudicial generalizations about different racial and ethnic groups. As Jews, we know how xenophobia can lead to false and unscientific associations with a disease, particularly in times of epidemic. We must ensure that we and others don’t cast such generalizations or make hurtful statements towards other ethnic and racial groups. …
Similarly, we must not, God forbid, blame or judge people for contracting a disease. When others suffer from illness, we are obligated to support them. That is the Jewish reaction. No one is at fault or lesser than for their suffering.
Bikkur Cholim, visiting the ill, is one of the most cherished of Mitzvot. Obviously, literal Bikkur Cholim is strictly forbidden if it puts the visitor at medical risk. But, the value always remains true: we move closer to, not further from, those who are ill. If we cannot literally visit, do to infection, we must find all other safe and possible ways to support the ill.”
COVID-19 information for Buncombe County community (Buncombe County Health Department): https://www.buncombecounty.org/Governing/Depts/HHS/news-detail.aspx?id=18491
COVID-19 advice for the public (WHO): https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
People at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html#who-is-higher-risk
Coronavirus disease 2019 information for travel (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
How to talk with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CDC): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/talking-with-children.html
9 questions parents may have about Coronavirus (NYT): https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/09/parenting/coronavirus-parents-need-to-know.html
Just for kids: a comic exploring the new Coronavirus (NPR): https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus
Dear Asheville JCC Community,
We have been closely tracking new developments around COVID-19 and following updates from the Buncombe County Health Department, National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and JCC Association of North America. As of today, Buncombe County Health Department has posted that there are no presumptive positive or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Buncombe County.
Our leadership staff are assessing the situation daily, and we are preparing to make additional changes should the situation evolve to a point when that would be necessary and prudent. In the meantime, we are taking these extra measures to help everyone stay healthy and to minimize the spread of transmittable diseases, including COVID-19:
- Our janitorial crew will disinfect door knobs and light switches daily.
- Shalom and JCC Kids staff currently disinfect surfaces multiple times per day, and will be doing so even more frequently than usual.
- While viruses like COVID-19 and the flu cannot survive in pool water, our aquatics staff will disinfect reception and locker room surfaces multiple times per day.
- We are purchasing additional supplies to ensure that all staff have access to the supplies necessary to disinfect surfaces more frequently.
- We will be making sure that all of our program participants engage in frequent and proper hand-washing, and we will remind them about proper usage of tissues and their disposal.
- We have displayed posters from the CDC reminding all staff, members, and families to maintain safe hand hygiene practices.
- We will be adding additional hand sanitizer stations in all three buildings.
As the JCC staff works hard in these ways, there are steps that you can take to aid in our efforts to promote and maintain a healthy environment here at the JCC:
- Stay home when you are sick, especially if you have experienced flu-like symptoms.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or a flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing.
- Throw used tissues into a trash bin immediately after use.
- Make use of the hand sanitizer provided in the JCC’s buildings.
- Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth.
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently advise against any non-essential travel to a number of countries. Anyone who has traveled to an area where COVID-19 is active, or who have been exposed to anyone with COVID-19, should be monitored and self-quarantine for 14 days. As such, they should not participate in JCC programming. Please click here for more information about international travel.
Thank you for helping us keep our community safe and healthy!
PS: If you have children who are feeling anxious about what they are hearing, the following article is a tool you can use to talk with your children about COVID-19: Talking Tools for Parents.