This past Thursday, on 16 Adar / March 12, we issued a statement regarding the coronavirus, expressing our view that, “at least in cities or municipalities where public and private schools are not required to close, yeshivos and day schools should remain open.” We did so on the basis of what at that time appeared to be a general consensus among health officials that schools may remain open, “as evidenced by the fact that most local health authorities have not at this point ordered the wholesale closing of schools.”
Now, three days later, it is no longer possible to speak of such a general consensus. Numerous states, cities and municipalities have taken the extraordinary step of closing schools. Reports suggest that many others are likely to do the same in the days ahead. If anything, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus has grown, rapidly and exponentially, a new consensus appears to be emerging among many public health officials that schools should be closed. We have discussed this with a number of infectious disease specialists in our community, and they too concur that it would be best to close our yeshivos and day schools during the coronavirus outbreak.
Therefore, even in places where health authorities allow schools to remain open, yeshivos and day schools should recognize the extreme seriousness of the current situation, and at the same time the inestimable power of hevel pihem shel tinokos shel bais rabban. In such scenarios, we encourage yeshivos and day schools to consult with knowledgeable health professionals, bring the issue to their moreh hora’ah, and act accordingly.
Yeshivos and day schools that do close down should take all steps necessary to arrange opportunities for their talmidim to continue to learn in home settings during their absence from school. Torah Umesorah stands ready to assist yeshivos and day schools in making such arrangements.
May the Shomer Yisroel have rachamim on His People.
Vaad Roshei Yeshiva of Torah Umesorah