In Indiana, our Bishop (UMC) encouraged returning to church on June 14, which we did. Our pastor is also of the mind that we should be here for anyone who choses to come. I was unsure how things would work for Children's Ministry but since leadership encouraged it, we opened our Elementary group (Kids Pointe-K-5) that same day. Before Covid we usually had 60-70 kids each Sunday.
How we did it:
- Posted our plans on our Facebook page, sent postcards to get the word out.
- Personally contacted all teachers to see who was willing to teach
- Teacher or Shepherd will wear mask and meet children at door of Children/Youth Building (separate building from Worship) spray hand sanitizer on hands before entering. Parents do not enter building. At first we did not require children to wear masks but when things began to get worse in July we did ask them to wear them to enter the building and leave them on until they got into their classroom. (This is what the Elementary schools in our area were planning to do and have done.)
- Sign kids in on computer/print nametag
- Take kids directly into one of our rooms and have them wash their hands with soap and water then be seated.
- Have an activity for them to do while waiting for others - make/color cards for church families who we know will not be able to attend.
- As soon as 12 students are in a room (we have large rooms), open another room. We had 4 rooms available that first week. That meant 4 teachers and at least 4 shepherds. We only needed 2 rooms the first couple of weeks. About mid-July we actually went down to one room and I don't expect it to go back up until later this month or early October. (It is normal for our church attendance to go down in July and August but the Covid cases rising did not help!)
- We are not doing singing and no running games.
- Lessons had to get pretty simple. One of the resources I found helpful is https://rfour.org/curriculum.html#oneroom.
These lessons are well thought out and were simple enough that if we needed an extra room, someone who had not initially planned to teach could pick up the lesson and be effective.
One big thing our pastor has been serious about is NOT STARTING PROTOCOLS that will last until Jesus returns! For example, we did not close every other pew or take temps. Our pastor's wife is the Director of the Covid area of one of our Hospitals. I think learning from her how things truly could and could not be passed helped guide him and our plans.
We continue to do online worship and Children's Ministry for those who are not comfortable attending.
I also prepare worship packets weekly, with gloved hands, for children whose parents are comfortable with attending worship but not Kids Pointe. These are not to be returned, so the kids take everything home every week they take one.