The data has been coming in since early winter 2020. Schools that have closely followed COVID-19 safety protocols have successfully mitigated the spread of the virus.
This means in children’s environments where safety protocols such as mask-wearing, handwashing, social distancing, and ongoing disinfecting measures are closely followed, there’s been low risk of virus spread and in some cases, mitigation.
The Studies on COVID Spread in Schools
Several studies that have been released over the past few months show the risk of virus transmission among children in these settings is low. According to the article, “Three Studies Highlight Low COVID Risk of In-Person School,” by Mary Van Beusekom for Center for Infectious Disease and Policy (CIDRAP), “The schools’ public health measures successfully mitigated spread.”
This is significant for children’s ministries, which have been some of the programs most impacted by the pandemic. In the “State of the Church 2020” by Barna, researchers offered this assessment about the impact of limitations on children’s ministries: “Across the board, churches are reporting a decrease in kids’ engagement since making changes to their programs. Only 9 percent of churches report increased engagement with children 5th grade or younger, while 21% report similar engagement levels. But, most notably, 62 percent of churches say it has decreased (36% significantly, 26% somewhat).”
What Does This Mean for Children’s Ministry?
The data provided by schools may serve as a guide for children’s ministries hoping to reopen to in-person ministry. Of the effective mitigating protocols in place, Van Beusekom elaborates: “The steps included daily screening of students and staff, compliance with mask wearing for students and adults, public reporting of COVID-19 cases, efficient contact tracing, collaboration with local health departments, regular updates for students and staff, school principal encouragement to adhere to the measures and report breaches in protocol, detailed scheduling of all parts of the school day, definitive plans for special-needs students, and opening using a hybrid model of in-person and remote learning.”
This data no doubt shows encouraging signs for children’s ministries that have scaled back throughout the pandemic. There is growing evidence that proper safety precautions are effective. This evidence may allow children to return to much-needed in-person, socially beneficial experiences soon.