A List of "Healthy Sunday School" Practices
for those Sunday Schools re-opening
during the COVID-19 Pandemic
The following guidance is based on CDC guidelines issued to churches, schools, and daycares and the advice coming from several children's ministry experts and organizations. I have tailored the language to a typical Sunday School environment.
It's important to communicate your plans to your members and remind them that these practices are not just "for the kids" (who don't seem to be especially susceptible to the virus), but for the ADULTS who lead them, their families, and for other adults coming to church who are at higher risk of contracting the virus from casual transmission. Communicating these "reasons" can help put children and young parents at ease who might harbor some fears about getting sick. "Doing this for others" is a great teaching opportunity too.
- Require masks, provide masks.
- Have teachers meet their students at the door of the classroom. Have a helper inside the classroom assist students as they arrive to understand new classroom practices. Screen for children or adult helpers who might be ill.
- Require parents and siblings to remain outside the classroom if they are dropping off or picking up.
- Post safety rules in multiple locations for all to see. Share with parents ahead of time.
- Require students to wash hands prior to entering the classroom and AFTER leaving the classroom. This will likely need to be supervised. (Tip: provide fun "stickers" to mark those who have washed.)
- Place hand-santizers and sanitizing wipes/cleaning supplies in each classroom.
- Create "social distances" between students and teachers in the classrooms by the creative arrangement of chairs and tables. Set class size limits to maintain social distancing.
- Use visual markers, such as blue painters tape on the table, to help students keep their distance.
- Reduce or eliminate the sharing of materials, such as markers, Bibles, and art supplies.
- Reduce or eliminate the use of games or activities that involve contact and loud voices.
- Eliminate singing in the traditional manner (see related post about that).
- If food is present, provide gloves to the teacher and practice safe food-handling (don't pass a plate, for example).
- Wipe down surfaces, objects, and "touch points" before and after classes with disinfectant. Don't forget doors knobs, shared items, tables, and chair backs.
- Open windows and doors wherever possible to increase air flow and fresh air exchange. Some churches are even moving some groups outside under tents for more fresh air flow.
- Discuss the installation and use of HEPA filters in the church's HVAC system. If your church will not install a central HEPA filter, you can tape your OWN HEPA-rated filters (found at your local hardware) to your classroom air intake and output vents.
- Continue to reach out and include those who cannot (or will not) attend in person.
- Have your requirements and practices "officially approved" by the church, publicize the practices, and let everyone know that if they can't follow the requirements, then they should not attend "at this time."
- Take and share photos of teachers and kids engaged in safe practices to help those "waiting" to return and encourage the continuation of safe practices. Inspire confidence among your parents.
- Spend time talking with your students in every lesson about how they are dealing with all the changes and worries related to the COVID crisis. This is a teaching opportunity!
- Talk with each teacher about safe-practices and be prepared to provide substitute teachers to replace those who are not yet ready to return.