Teachers, staff and administration at a Dublin preschool are seeking a return to normalcy this month following a difficult start to 2022 that was marked by a closure for an uptick in COVID-19 cases during which the school's premises were ransacked in two burglaries.
"We feel like this past week we're feeling our sense of normal back; people are starting to feel more comfortable," Wazhma Masarweh, director of Resurrection Lutheran Child Development Center, told the Weekly on Tuesday.
The preschool facility, housed in Resurrection Lutheran Church on Amador Valley Boulevard, was first broken into on a Sunday morning last month, at approximately 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 9.
Although a suspect was arrested in that case, which was submitted to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for review, Dublin police Lt. Jared Hattaway said that "detectives are still attempting to identify the suspects in the second burglary" -- which occurred the following evening, on Jan. 10, and which Masarweh discovered the following morning.
"Who does this to a school, right? Just to vandalize and invade some of that personal space, and personal things that we built up for the kids, really it all goes toward the children It's one of those things that you don't have an answer for, and we still don't know who did it," Masarweh said.
While culprits remain at large in the second incident, Masarweh and her staff have been able to recover financially and then some, thanks to a well-supported GoFundMe campaign launched on Jan. 12 by one of the school's parents, Courtney Treffkorn.
"This preschool has been around for many years, and has made a huge impact for many local Dubliners whose children have gone here," Treffkorn wrote in a statement for the fundraiser. "They operate out of a small church and already make far less than large corporate preschools. They also charge much less for their care. It is very apparent when you visit Resurrection Lutheran Child Development that these teachers do what they do out of love. They love and cherish the children that they care for."
The fundraiser met and exceeded its $7,000 goal rapidly, with donations amounting to more than $11,000 this week. Masarweh said that families of children at the school, city officials and community members at large had all been rallying behind them in the weeks since the burglaries, by assisting with finances but also donating time, work and support.
In particular, the school has been undergoing upgrades to security measures such as fencing and surveillance cameras, thanks to the volunteer work of community members.
All in all, Masarweh said that she and her staff were feeling better about the school's material circumstances, but that they were still just beginning to recover emotionally.
"I would say this week has been good," Masarweh said. "For me personally, the emotional effects of this (are that) some days I wake up, and I don't have a sense of fear, but I don't have a sense of comfort either yet."
Masarweh said that coming to work at Resurrection, after the school she'd previously been at closed due to the pandemic, had felt like a sanctuary and had been a source of comfort for herself, teachers and children.
"I felt like, oh my gosh, this is the place," Masarweh said. "I don't mind the commute every day, just because the sense of community everybody has been so amazing and so nice. Everybody loves children, really."
While the immediate priorities for the school in the weeks since the burglaries have been recovering items that were lost and laying the groundwork for a sense of normalcy to return, Masarweh said that the long-term psychological effects would take longer to recover from, and that programming was in the works to offer support to teachers and staff who were still shaken by the break-ins.
"I felt like some of that joy, some of that pride, some of that feeling of gosh, I just love coming to work some of it has kind of been overshadowed by this event that I'm trying hard to put behind me," Masarweh said.
Nonetheless, she added that she was hopeful for the school's future, and that the outpouring of community support has bolstered her spirits.
"We 're at a good point right now and we're hoping to build on that," Masarweh said.