With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world as we know it has turned upside down in just a matter of weeks, leaving educators across the country scrambling to provide content and resources through eLearning to students sheltering in place at home. In spite of the rush to continue students on a seamless path of learning, those leading and teaching at Christian schools can take heart that even when things seem shaky and unknown, we are called to such a time as this.
Indeed, the biblical foundation we work hard to lay for our students is the training ground for every Christian, one we now have an opportunity to put into practice. The teachers at the school I lead, Christian Heritage Academy in the Chicago area, along with their colleagues at Christian schools across the nation, have prepared their students in ways that are invaluable during this time. The most valuable preparedness being, of course, our reliance on the truths found in God’s word, which provides “a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.”
This is an unprecedented situation and none of us is an expert when it comes to schooling during a pandemic, but as my team and I lead our school community, there are a few things that have proven to be particularly helpful.
Daily Bible Reading
It’s always important to stay grounded in Scripture, but now is the perfect time to immerse ourselves in biblical truths. Scripture is our plumb line, both in “regular” times and now, and God’s Word is the lens through which Christian education is delivered. Now, more than ever, we must maintain that which is central to what Christian education is all about. This year, our school has been reading through the New Testament and we continue to do this together, even as we are physically apart.
It’s never too late to begin reading the Bible together as a school or as an educator—pick a book of the Bible to read with your students now. They will be encouraged, and so will you.
Psalm 46 reminds us: God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Do all things with excellence
Just because we are no longer in a classroom or school building together doesn’t mean we give up on doing our best. We encourage our students to “work as unto the Lord” despite their circumstances. And this goes for us administrators, too. Sure, eLearning can be a challenge as we figure out how to deliver quality education virtually, but remember that academic goals remain the same even though the delivery method is different.
Maintaining community connection
We are all practicing physical distancing, but social connection is still vital. Now, more than ever, we need to be connected with one another since students miss their friends and families miss the school community. Consider ways to maintain community connection virtually using the technology that many of us have at hand. How about arranging weekly times of prayer for groups within your school—parents, students, and faculty—via teleconferencing? Or what about starting online chapel services to encourage family worship?
Outreach to others
In the midst of this pandemic crisis, let it not be lost on us as believers that there has never been a greater time to share the Gospel. We have Good News to share with a world that is desperately searching for something good. Shame on us if we are so myopically focused that we miss this opportunity, so let’s encourage our school communities to live it out.
Throughout history, the Christian light has shone brightest through tragedy. Go ahead and shine forth the light and love of Christ to an anxious, hurting, and fearful world around us. Pick up groceries, reach out to seniors, send notes, make phone calls. Be intentional with those around you during a time when they may be feeling alone.
Keep an eternal mindset
Lately, I’ve been encouraging our school community to remember the character of God and who He is. Because of His character, not only is he sovereign and has allowed our current circumstance for a purpose, but He is gracious. God is working all things, including the corona virus, for our good.
My hope and prayer is that the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be like 9/11, where the impact was like an earthquake—traumatic, but for most of us returning to normal after a short time. Instead, my hope is that this time is like a glacier, which permanently alters the terrain. Let’s pray that this crisis has a glacier impact in each of our hearts and in the hearts of those across our nation. This will only happen if each of us calls upon God and return to Him with all our hearts (Joel 2).
Christian educators, make no mistake about it. You are spiritual frontline workers during this time of crisis, preparing a generation of students for “such a time as this.” Never before have we so clearly seen the fruits of your labor and their potential impact for eternity. Stay the course—we need you and we appreciate you.
Dr. Hutz Hertzberg is President of Christian Heritage Academy in Northfield, Illinois, a PreK-12 school. Dr. Hertzberg has previously pastored in the local church and has also served in Christian higher education and in para-church leadership. He is a graduate of both Wheaton College and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.