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).]
Please review the following instructions for our new reservation and drop-off/pick-up procedures.
Screen Your Child
Our regular Sick Child Guidelines (III.F-2 in the Believers Kids Ministry Handbook, and posted in every classroom) read:
“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.
An email is sent out every 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. Occasionally classes fill up, in which case there is a waitlist. If you are unable to pre-register, come to our check-in kiosk on Sunday morning to check if we have any walk-up spots available.
If you’ve pre-registered, we will have your children’s nametag stickers printed when you arrive on Sunday morning. You should plan on arriving a little early in order to pick up the stickers and drop your children off at class. Teachers should be ready to receive children 10 minutes before service starts.
Before you check-in, please make sure your child does not have any symptoms of illness beyond those of seasonal allergies.
In the Classroom:
The following safety protocols will be implemented in each classroom:
- Hand hygiene stations are available in every classroom and will be used frequently by the teachers (TEA, 5).
- The number of children in a classroom is limited to accommodate social distancing.
- In the 1st-through-5th grade classrooms, the back rows are reserved for socially-distanced seating. A parent who wants his or her child to be distanced from others should ask the teacher or direct the child to sit in the distanced seating in the back row. The rest of the rows are open seating.
- Masks are optional for teachers and students. But, teachers will wear masks if coming within six feet of children sitting in the socially-distanced back row.
- We attempt to limit physical contact among participants in the classroom—e.g. not giving high-fives or hugs.
- There will be no sharing of cups, water bottles, pens, crayons, or craft supplies
- There will be no snacks distributed during class time for Lights and Primary Sunday School.
- We frequently disinfect items or surfaces touched by more than one person (e.g. tables, chairs, sink, etc.).
- 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).
Governor Abbott has lifted the statewide mask and distancing mandate, leaving it up to businesses and individuals whether they wear masks or socially distance from others. Believers Kids is thus also leaving it up to the individual.
- It is up to the parent whether or not a child will wear a mask or social distance from others. If you want your child to do either of those things, please instruct them and inform the teachers. Please consider that social distancing is challenging among our younger Lights classes—the Nursery, three- and four-year-olds, and 5–Kindergarten—and there are no rows of tables and chairs. Many children also struggle to keep their masks on.
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.
- At times before, between, and after services, playground use is open for any children. Please supervise your own children.
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.
- 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 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.
“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