We are excited to resume children’s Sunday School and Nursery starting on Sunday, Sept 20. We cannot wait to teach the children in-person each week from God’s Word, and to serve the families of Believers Fellowship.
While it is not possible to eliminate all risk of catching COVID-19, the current science suggests that there are steps we can take to reduce the risk significantly. We will be following safety protocols in accordance with the guidelines provided by the CDC for school and child care programs. [You can access the guidelines at the CDC website (www.cdc.gov).]
Our new reservation and drop-off/pick-up procedures are summarized below:
- Screen Your Child
Our regular Sick Child Guidelines state:
“One sick child entering a Sunday School or Nursery classroom can potentially impact the families of 10-20 other children. As a courtesy to the other children, parents, and workers, we ask that parents do NOT bring their child if he or she:
- Has a fever of more than 100° [The child must be fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine before being allowed into the class.]
- Has experienced any vomiting or diarrhea in the past 24 hours.
- Is excessively coughing or sneezing, or has large amounts of colored nasal discharge.
- Has an infection of any kind and has not been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours.
- Has an unidentified rash.
- Has any open wounds.
- Is overly lethargic and not feeling/looking well.
- Has any siblings who are sick, and thus is likely to already be contagious, even though symptoms may not have appeared yet.
- Has any other infectious condition such as head lice, pinworms, pink eye, ringworm, impetigo, etc.”
That is the general list of symptoms. The Texas Education Agency’s “SY 20-21 Public Health Planning Guidance” provides a list of specific symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, so particularly look out for the following, in addition to the above:
- Feeling feverish or a measured temperature greater than or equal to 100.0 degrees Fahrenheit
- Loss of taste or smell
- Difficulty breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Shaking or exaggerated shivering
- Significant muscle pain or ache
- Nausea or vomiting
Due to the contagious nature of COVID-19 and its severe impact on some people, we are asking you to be extra vigilant—and to make sure that your child (or anyone else in your household) has not had these symptoms in the previous 24 hours.
Please make sure that you are looking for these symptoms even up until getting loaded into the car. If you are even a little unsure, please err on the side of being overly cautious and do not attend service that morning.
In order to maintain distance between the children in the classroom, we need to limit the number of children in each room. We are therefore asking families to sign-up online each week to reserve spots for their children. These spots are strictly limited. Spots will already be reserved for the children of Believers Kids servants during the hour when their parents are serving.
An email will be sent out on Friday, which will take you to the online reservation system, where you will be able to sign your children up for the 9am or 11am Sunday School or Nursery. Once a class is full, you will no longer be able to sign-up your child. The first time you visit, you will be asked to create an account. Then, when you log-in, you will be able to reserve a spot for your child. Please note that parents will be able to see the names of each child registered.
Because we know exactly who is registered, we will be able to pre-print nametag stickers for your children. Nevertheless, you should plan on arriving early because the distancing procedures will slow down how quickly children can enter the classrooms.
- Bring your child to the check-in table (what used to be the kiosk area). We will check that the child is on the reservation list, and will have the nametag sticker ready. Stickers will be handed out by servants wearing gloves. We will have hand sanitizer available at the check-in counter (CDC, Child Care, 4).
- An assistant teacher will . . .
- Monitor the check-in line to ensure that distance is kept between families, regardless of your personal feelings or views on social distancing (CDC, Child Care, 5).
- Ask the parent/guardian to confirm that the child does not have a fever, shortness of breath, or cough (CDC, Child Care, 5).
- Make a visual inspection of the child for signs of illness which could include flushed cheeks, rapid breathing, or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), fatigue, or extreme fussiness (CDC, Child Care, 5).
- Then parents will take their children to their classrooms in the order of when they’ve checked in. There will be hand sanitizer or a hand-washing station available in each classroom.
In the Classroom
The following safety protocols will be implemented in each classroom:
- Teachers and helpers will be screened prior to class, including temperature checks.
- Hand hygiene stations are available in every classroom and will be used frequently by the teachers (TEA, 5).
- When feasible, teachers and helpers will wear masks when within six feet of children, or each other (if they’re not in the same family) (CDC, Child Care, 3).
- We are limiting the number of children in the room so we can physically distance them.
- We will limit physical contact among participants in the classroom—e.g. not giving high-fives or hugs. (We will make sure to have a talk with the children at the beginning of class to specify details).
- There will be no sharing of cups, water bottles, toys, pens, scissors, or crayons.
- There will be no snacks distributed during class time for Lights and Primary Sunday School. There is an hour between services, so you can feed your child after picking him or her up.
- The first-hour teachers will clean and disinfect items and surfaces after each service.
- We have upgraded our air filters.
- During the week, we routinely clean, sanitize, and disinfect objects and surfaces that are frequently touched (CDC Child Care, 7).
We will also not be gathering multiple classes together for “big group” teaching and music, as we had been doing for second-hour. This is in accordance with the CDC’s guideline to “Keep each group of children in a separate room” in order to limit the mixing of children (CDC, Child Care, 4).
- Face Coverings
In July, Governor Greg Abbott instituted a statewide mask mandate which “requires Texans in most counties [those with more than 20 cases] to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when inside a business or other building open to the public, as well as outdoor public spaces” (Svitek, 2). He outlined 11 exemptions, which include:
- People younger than 10 years old . . .
- People with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask . . .
- People participating in religious services . . .
. . . “as long as they are keeping their distance from others.” Point III of Executive Order NW-14, issued by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff on August 12, 2020, offers more specific details:
“every person 10 years or older in Bexar County shall wear a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a commercial entity or other building or space open to the public, or when in an outdoor public space, wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household or when working in areas that involve close proximity with other coworkers.”
While churches are exempted from Governor Abbott’s statewide mask mandate, the wearing of masks is “highly recommended” (Svitek, 2). Furthermore, the Texas Attorney General’s “Guidance for Houses of Worship During the COVID-19 Crisis” recommends conducting church activities “in accordance with guidance from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (‘CDC’).” The CDC’s “Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open” recommends face coverings for “staff members and older children,” but warns that “[c]loth face coverings should NOT be put on babies and children under age two because of the danger of suffocation” (CDC, 3).
So, here’s what this means for Believers Kids:
- Parents should wear face coverings when checking in, standing in line, and dropping their children off.
- Children 10 years old and up should wear masks if they are within six feet of any other person. This would mean wearing a mask on the way in, then being able to take it off when seated, then putting it back on again to exit. It would also mean putting it on if there are any activities that involve being within six feet of another person.
- It is recommended that children under 10 also wear masks, but the decision is up to the parent.
- For their own safety, children under 2 years old should NOT wear masks (CDC Child Care, 3).
- Younger Children
It must be noted that social distancing will be extremely challenging among our younger Lights classes—the three- and four-year-olds, and perhaps even 5–Kindergarten. Many children will also struggle to keep their masks on. We will nevertheless follow the guidelines of the Texas Education Agency’s “SY 20-21 Public Health Planning Guidance,” which states:
“Where feasible without disrupting the educational experience, encourage students to practice social distancing . . . In classrooms where students are regularly within six feet of one another . . . plan on more frequent hand washing and/or hand sanitizing . . . ” (TEA, 6—italics added).
We ask that you would communicate these expectations clearly to your child before entering the classroom.
The teacher will:
- Put on new gloves
- Clean child
- Replace diaper
- Disinfect child’s hands
- Clean up station
- Disinfect own hands
- Infant Holding/Feeding
The teacher will:
- Put on new gloves
- Disinfect child’s hands before feeding
- Once finished, the teacher will wash out bottles immediately after they are finished, or clean/disinfect the high-chair and put away food into their bag.
Please provide a spare outfit in your bag in case your infant/toddler has stained or soiled clothes and must be changed. For changing, the teacher will:
- Put on new gloves
- Put soiled clothes in a plastic bag
- Change child into the new outfit
- Disinfect the child’s hands
- Disinfect own hands
The CDC Child Care Guidelines recommend “staggering playground times,” so classes do not mix (CDC, 4). We have thus implemented the following measures:
- In the Under 3 area, there are no toys or surfaces, and it is gated off from the rest of the playground. Only one class at a time will use the area, and they will bring clean toys from their classroom. Those toys will be removed when they are finished.
- After using the older play area, every child will wash or sanitize his or her hands when returning to the classroom.
Please observe the following procedures for picking up your child:
- In order for us to be able to clean and disinfect the classroom between services (or after second service), it is essential that you come to pick up your child as soon as you can after service ends. This would be as close to 10am as you can for first service, or 12pm for second.
- Please form a line outside the classroom, wear a mask, and maintain a six-foot distance between families by following the marks on the ground.
- When you come to the classroom, bring your pick-up sticker and show it to the teacher.
- If your child is attending both hours of Sunday School or Nursery, please pick him up after first service, tell the teacher that you will be bringing him back (the teacher should make note of this on the sticker in the binder), and then bring him back shortly before second service. This allows us time to clean the room. Furthermore, our servants are committed to serving first-hour or second-hour, not for the hour between services.
A Sick Child
What happens if a child starts to show symptoms of being ill? We do not want to rush to a conclusion about COVID-19, but, regardless of what it is, we do not want a sick child to remain in the classroom, where he or she might infect others. As per the Believers Kids Ministry Handbook, if any child starts to become sick, the teachers will separate that child from others, text or call the parent/guardian and inform them that the child is showing symptoms of being sick, and will ask the parent/guardian to come pick the child up (III.F-3).
If a child exhibits COVID-19 symptoms:
- As per the Texas Education Agency’s and CDC’s recommendations, the teachers will separate the child from others until he can be picked up (TEA, 4; CDC, Child Care, 2).
- If the child reports feeling feverish, we will conduct a temperature check to “determine if they are symptomatic for COVID-19” (TEA, 4).
- As per the Believers Kids Ministry Handbook, the teachers will text or call the parent/guardian and inform them that the child is showing symptoms of being sick, and will ask the parent/guardian to come pick up the child (III.F-3). Again, we ask parents to be understanding, as we are going to be erring on the side of caution.
- The areas used by the child will be cleaned as soon “as is feasible” (TEA, 4).
If COVID-19 is confirmed in a child, teacher, or helper (this would most likely be days after the person was on campus):
- We will close off the areas used by the sick person (CDC, Child Care, 3).
- We will open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation (CDC, Child Care, 3).
- We will wait up to 24 hours or as long as possible before cleaning or disinfecting in order to “allow respiratory droplets to settle before cleaning and disinfecting” (CDC, Child Care, 3). If more than 7 days have passed since the person visited, additional cleaning and disinfection is “not necessary” (CDC, Child Care, 3).
We believe these protocols will significantly reduce the risk of COVID-19 being spread. However, please note that any such measures cannot completely eliminate the risk. Please only send your children if you are comfortable doing so.
- Believers Kids Ministry Handbook. Version 2.0. Believers Fellowship. Revised April 2019.
- “Executive Order NW-14 of County Judge Nelson W. Wolff.” Issued August 12, 2020. https://www.bexar.org/DocumentCenter/View/27815/Executive-Order-NW-14-issued-by-Bexar-County-Judge-Nelson-Wolff?bidId=
- “Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open.” From the CDC website. Updated July 23, 2020. Accessed 21 August 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html
- “Guidance for Houses of Worship During the COVID-19 Crisis.” From the website of the Texas Attorney General. April 21, 2020. Accessed 20 August 2020. https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/images/admin/2020/ Press/Third%20Revised%20AG%20Guidance%20for%20Houses%20of%20Worship%20During%20the%20COVID-19%20Crisis%20-%20Final.pdf
- Swaby, Aliyya. “Masks will be mandatory in many Texas schools when they reopen this fall, education agency says.” Texas Tribune website. July 7, 2020. Accessed 21 August 2020. https://www.texastribune.org/2020/07/07/masks-mandatory-texas-schools/
- Svitek, Patrick. “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate exempts voting sites and churches.” Texas Tribune website. July 3, 2020. Accessed 20 August 2020. https://www.texastribune.org/2020/07/03/texas-mask-order-voting-chruches-greg-abbott/
- “SY 20-21 Public Health Planning Guidance.” Texas Education Agency website. August 4, 2020. Accessed 20 August 2020. https://tea.texas.gov/sites/default/files/covid/SY-20-21-Public-Health-Guidance.pdf