Since the war began, our RFS community has felt uncertain, stressed, and scared. The news keeps reminding us of what’s happening, and our students and staff with family and friends in Gaza are constantly worried.
It’s important to know that about twenty-one of our faculty and staff and roughly forty students have to travel on risky roads to reach our school. They have to go through checkpoints or near settlements, and that can be tough. The checkpoints are often closed, and even when they’re open, it’s still hard because of the long waits, causing delays. The roads near settlements are not safe either.
Despite the challenging times, we are dedicated to providing our students with a semblance of normalcy when nothing seems ordinary. We offer both online and in-person classes for those who can attend. However, when teachers are unable to make it, we must find replacements, a decision that is often made on a daily basis. On Monday, we had seven staff members, five of whom couldn’t come due to the situation. We remain flexible in our approach, as we’ve had to transition the entire school to online learning twice in the past week. We are prepared to make the necessary transitions when needed.
Our primary concern is the well-being of our students and staff. We are making sure that everyone’s emotions are okay. Our counselors provide support, and we brought in an expert who understands yoga and breathing. This person began working with our students just a couple of days ago and will continue with us for at least a week. These are challenging times for our students, even though we’re trying our best to shield them from the distressing news. They can still hear about what’s going on.
As I mentioned, we’re taking things daily and making decisions based on what’s happening. The shelling of the Al Ahli Episcopal Hospital left us profoundly shocked and in mourning, a sentiment shared by the entire country. Consequently, the government is mourning, and we suspended in-person and online classes for two days. Every night, we are tasked with convening with fellow school leaders to determine our course of action for the next day.
It is incredibly challenging for adults and children to fully grasp the magnitude of what has transpired and the shock of the high number of lives lost. The children in Gaza are living in constant fear and desperately require protection. While we recognize this pressing need to protect the children in Gaza, we are equally conscious of the profound shock experienced by our own students in the wake of recent events. Therefore, we are responsible for providing them with a platform to express their fears and emotions while nurturing an environment defined by care, empathy, and unwavering support.
As we navigate these turbulent times together, our mission remains resolute: to serve as a beacon of strength and compassion in a world where uncertainty prevails. I want to share the profound insight shared by one of our senior students who highlighted the stark reality that the number of children who have tragically lost their lives is equivalent to, if not more than, the number of children within our school campuses. Pondering the possibility of our students facing such a fate underscores the complexity of life and the necessity for enduring compassion so that our humanity does not fail us.
Head of School
Ramallah Friends School