July 20, 2020
A recommendation from Neil MacQueen
Before reopening Sunday School, we in the church would be wise to sit back and watch the experiment about to unfold in public schools as they reopen.
There's a healthy and raucous debate going on in most public school systems right now over HOW to safely reconvene public schools this fall. There are a number of models and different emphasis on safety precautions. Regardless of your personal opinion, because our Sunday Schools look a lot like public school gatherings on Sunday mornings, we're about to learn a lot of over the next 8 weeks about what works, what doesn't, and whether or not our own timelines and plans for reopening Sunday School are appropriate or not.
- What will be the effect of reduced class sizes and social distancing on stopping the spread of COVID?
- What will be the effect of reduced class sizes and social distancing on LEARNING in the classrooms?
- How many families (and teachers) will opt to stay away and for how long?
- What distance learning models seem most effective? In-person occasional safe small group meetings with a teacher followed by e-lessons at home seems like a model Sunday School could adopt.
- How will these reopenings affect teachers? (and what will our volunteer teachers think of it?)
- Which safe-practices are especially important, and which new ones will we learn are important?
Re-opening or Re-imagining Sunday School this Fall
Some churches are NOT taking a "wait and see" approach. Instead, they have decided they will NOT reopen Sunday School-as-usual this fall (even if worship does reopen) and instead, are marshaling all their resources to connect with kids and families at home. I like that idea, especially given that EVEN IF Sunday School reopens this fall, attendance will likely be LOW for some time, and realistically, trying to run both an in-church and "at-home" educational ministry is beyond the capacity of most small and medium-sized churches.
Personally, I do like the idea of limited and safe "small group gatherings of students with a teacher" (in church or at home) to touch base and provide some instruction, then follow up with some additional e-learning at home in-between the limited small group gatherings.