Dror Israel Educators helping students meet face to face

The Close-Up Learning program gives students a break from distance learning

Since March 2020, Israel’s students have been subjected to a constantly-changing curriculum of studies as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. They have cycled through in-person classes, classes on Zoom, asynchronous assignments, splitting their classes into two “capsules”, and all sorts of combinations thereof. This has created a lack of stability in the students’ lives, as well as an increasing sense of isolation. Surveys of high schools indicate higher rates of anxious and depressive behavior among students, amplified by loss of their social safety nets and financial stress on families. Teachers as well are feeling the brunt of the constantly-changing guidelines and many report feeling stretched too thin and burnt out by the high expectations to constantly pivot their lessons to new forms of instruction.

Ninth graders in north Tel Aviv practicing cooperation

Educators from Dror Israel are providing support for teachers and students during this chaotic school year. As part of their program of studies at Beit Berl College, they have begun a program called Close-Up Learning, a play on the term “distance learning”. The program consists of a series of weekly activities run for over a hundred high school classes at 17 high schools throughout the country.

Close-Up Learning gives students an opportunity to safely meet their peers face-to-face while giving them a chance to process together the effects of the ongoing crisis on their lives. The Dror educators each take a class of students for one school day, once a week to a nearby park. There they fun informal activities, games, and discussions designed to give the students a platform to process their chaotic year while having fun together. The program also aims to lighten the load and support the country’s teachers.

A class discussion about the importance of friendship during hard times

In the first session, the students process their feelings and experiences of loneliness during the long months of Zoom classes and ta