When Debbie Thomas sent an email asking if churches are doing anything specific in regard to H1N1, here's how children's ministers responded.
Danise McMillen: We have a health policy that has been sent home, is online and is in the weekly program. We also have placed hand sanitizer around the building along with tissues. It is here and happening, so we are following local community and state Health Department guidelines.
Larry Shallenberger: We took the above precautions and now wipe door knobs and tables with Lysol wipes between services. Children's Pastor to children's pastor: I think the best cure for swine flu hysteria would be to turn off CNN.
Karen Stefacek: We put a Plan A, B and C in place this fall.
Plan A – done in September -- was to review all of our health and safety policies with our leaders and volunteers so we knew we were actually doing what we say we do. The primary help for avoiding H1N1 is not accepting children who exhibit any of our posted symptoms.
Plan B – started in October -- was to place hand sanitizer in all welcome stations in obviously places, and re-design the posted health policies so they would capture attention again. For childcare settings, we have the children wash their hands as they get checked in, because there’s plenty of time. We don’t do this for church, because of large attendance and little time. We agreed as a staff to stay home when we are sick. We had been bad about that.
We also are scheduling extra volunteers because of the frequency of people calling off at the last minute because they are sick.
Plan C is what we will implement if pandemic conditions impact our attendance significantly. We will monitor check-in for symptoms with a written record (or maybe a sticker for the kids) and will ask parents to wash their children’s hands with soap before checking them in to church. We may experiment with asking them use hand sanitizer as well.
And we pray.
Mike Bulkley: We contacted two pediatricians in our church and they helped us craft this letter which we have sent to all our parents and made available at out check-in stations:
I wanted to inform you of our church’s response to the current swine flu alert you are hearing much about in the media. First off I want to remind us the words of the apostle Paul who said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7. It is very easy to get caught up in the spirit of fear being fed by our mainstream media. Just the same we are called to use wisdom in all our ways. Thus I wanted to let you know our current approach. So far this virus, while having the potential for rapid spread, does not seem to be any more dangerous than the typical strong flu. For this reason, so far we are taking basically the same approach as we would to any other strong flu season. I have attached our infection control policy for your information. Further I wanted to make you aware of a few extra details not listed in the policy.
1. We have alcohol gel dispensers in every classroom. Children are encouraged to use these and we will be encouraging our volunteers to help remind the children on a regular basis to clean their hands.
2. We have disinfectant wipes in every classroom and will encourage our volunteers to be liberal and regular in their usage.
3. We will have our volunteers be more proactive in the check-in process to ask parents screening questions regarding basic health of their child (i.e. any fever, persistent coughing, diarrhea, etc.) and we will ask parents to please keep their children with them if they have any of these symptoms.
As a parent you can help us in a few ways,
1. If your child exhibits any symptoms of flu (symptom of influenza include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, fatigue, and, in some cases diarrhea), please take the precaution of keeping them home until at least 4 days after the symptoms completely pass.
2. If your child comes down with any of the symptoms within 2-4 days of their attendance in church please notify us immediately. You may call the church office or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Be patient with our volunteers as they take a little extra time checking children into the classrooms. Remember, we desire to set a safe environment for our children.
Finally I want to remind you of God’s promises found in Psalm 91:1-7 “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Then you will say to the LORD, "You are my fortress, my place of safety; you are my God, and I trust you." The Lord will keep you safe from secret traps and deadly diseases. He will spread his wings over you and keep you secure. His faithfulness is like a shield or a city wall. You won't need to worry about dangers at night or arrows during the day. And you won't fear diseases that strike in the dark or sudden disaster at noon. You will not be harmed, though thousands fall all around you.” Let’s be vigilant and wise but ruled by the peace and joy that comes from knowing we are in the hand of the Master.
SO...how are you responding? Also, take our poll on the H1N1 scare here on the childrensministry.com homepage.