This is a great question because everyone wants preschoolers and children to be safe and healthy. But is it wise to open Bible Study for the youngest ages when the church is first beginning to plan for a relaunch? Or do churches begin with worship, iron out the wrinkles, then open the Preschool and Children’s areas? There is no one perfect answer for every church. Each church must evaluate their situation and make the wisest decision for them.
Some things should be considered when opening your youngest areas of Bible Study.
Beginning Bible Study for preschoolers and children:
- Begin with worship. At a later date, add Bible Study for youth, children, then preschool.
- Plan on a controlled, “soft” opening for the Children and Preschool areas. This will ensure all the wrinkles are ironed out before opening these areas to everyone.
- Re-evaluate church policies and adhere to them. Make sure it says what needs to be happening. If your policies state that one parent is to drop off and pick up preschoolers,then that needs to be enforced. Make sure the updated policies have been sent to each family, and parents understand that policies will be followed.
- Only one adult should be allowed in the preschool area. The other parent and older children will not be allowed to drop-off and pick-up. This will help with maintaining six feet of distance between everyone.
- If additional Bible Study times are added, have parents pre-register children for each class. Classroom attendance sizes need to be smaller to try to adhere to social distancing rules.
- If additional times are added for Bible Study and Worship, survey parents, asking them which hours they will be attending.
- Check-in for the first couple of weeks might be the old fashion paper and pen system. If you register attendance using a digital system, have either wipes to clean the screen before and after families have registered, or have one designated person check families in.
- Make sure you have hand sanitizers at each entrance and encourage everyone to wash hands before entering any Bible Study room.
- If possible, have one designated entrance and one designated exit. This will keep the flow of traffic in the same direction.
- Limit people in the foyer/check-in area. Put down 6-foot signs/markers to indicate where people can stand to check-in.
- Have zip lock bags available for parents to put an extra diaper, change of clothes and a bottle. This will help eliminate spreading germs from home to the church. Be sure to have labels for parents to put their child’s name on the bag. For a season, ask parents to leave the diaper bags at home.
- Make individual supplies baggies for preschoolers and children. Include, markers, glue, scissors and other supplies that will be used during that session. This will help children be safe by not sharing.
- Be sure to clean each room after it has been used. Wipe off tables, chairs, doorknobs and other surfaces after each class or a specific time (every 20-30 minutes).
- Have a checklist of what to clean in each room. Initial the list each time the room is cleaned.
- Train all teachers on cleaning procedures.
- Survey teachers to discover who are uncomfortable teaching during this season. Be ready to enlist new teachers or ask volunteers to fill in the gaps.
- Make masks available for teachers and children.
Masks and face coverings:
- Teachers and children should wear masks or coverings over the nose and mouth.
- Preschoolers two and older should wear masks or face coverings, if possible. Do not have preschoolers under two wear a mask. That is a choking hazard.
- Ask parents to have their child create a “pretend” mask at home. Have preschoolers and children decorate the mask, then bring them to Bible Study to show their friends what they created.
Play areas and buggy rides:
- For a season, preschoolers should stay in the same classroom the entire Bible Study time. This means no buggy rides nor walks for a while.
- To maintain social distancing, church playgrounds and indoor playscapes will be closed.
Remember, each church is different and will have different ideas on relaunching its onsite ministry. Make sure there is a plan in place that every minister agrees to and will support.
For a season, each Tuesday and Thursday Childhood Ministers will be together on zoom calls, networking with each other and discovering the best methods of ministering to families. You are welcome to join us by signing up here.
Many thanks to the following who shared in this list of things to consider when reopening your Preschool and Children’s Areas:
North Carolina Baptist Convention
Cheryl Reed, Del Sol Baptist Church, El Paso
Nanette Johnson, FBC Arlington
Yevonne Donkervoet, Mobberly Baptist Church, Longview
Anna Klipa, Hunter’s Glen Baptist Church, Plano
Bronwyn Stanley, FBC College Station
Joanna Jespersen, Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church, Dallas
And all the other ministers on these networking conversations. Thank you!