Oh happy day off! As I sit here enjoying a cup of hot tea, by a pumpkin spice candle, I am reminded that it’s fall! Which means I get to bake, and everything tastes better! Sweaters and boots, and kids coming to church in puffy coats, looking like the stars of A Christmas Story! They’re like little ministry marshmallows, so cute. I love this time of year!!
And then the harsh reminder that this also means cold and flu season, which seems to be just a bit scarier each year with whatever special illness decides to wreak havoc on our country and sense of safety as parents. Wouldn’t it be awesome if those puffy coats gave off a mist of lysol whenever they were squished? I may be on to something here!
As a kids ministry leader, I realize just how many kids we come in contact with and just how often. Pair this with the understanding that the average child has between six to eight colds a year, and you realize your immune system is probably working overtime.
As I started to update some documents, I was working on our illness policy, and couldn’t help but start to research ebola and other various illnesses. As I did, I learned that we were a bit outdated in our policy and have updated it, so I thought I might share.
Why does any of this matter? It’s just a runny nose, right? I believe this subject is important, it all comes back to how we minister to families. As parents come to church, especially those who visit, they want to know their children are safe and in great care. Most parents may not love the idea of being called back if Jr. is running a fever, but at the same time, most appreciate the effort to keep everyone healthy, especially with the best interest of kids at heart.
As we come into the cold season, make sure your parents know that you have an illness policy (if you don’t, well you should). The next step is to tell them why you have it, because you love their children and want to see them happy and healthy at church…and your workers too! And lastly, enforce it! Steps 1 and 2 make this possible. Yesterday I was working check-in when a child told me they had been throwing up at bed time, but felt better now. As I reminded mom of our policy, she understood and we didn’t send her child to class. I got to call today and she is doing much better, and we will see her Sunday! This is a hands on example of how being prepared makes for a good outcome—mom appreciated our concern and happily followed the procedure.
Here are 10 ways to make sure you are ready for the coming months:
1. Have a policy in place.
2. Make sure your rooms are being sanitized regularly.
3. Learn to love Lysol. It kills everything! We spray in between sanitizing days.
4. Tell parents when it’s OK to return or stay home (green runny nose, fever or vomiting within 24 hours, and cover lice in this as well).
5. Post it! Policies are pointless if nobody knows them.
6. Train it—make sure your staff knows and enforces the policy. It’s for their health too!
7. Equip them! Make sure you have gloves, hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap in your rooms. We realize kids get sick when away from home too. If a child is looking a little feverish, we have forehead thermometers on hand to check. In most instances they want mom or dad at this point anyway. If a fever is present, we page parents.
8. Encourage health—remind your staff that drinking water and a good diet strengthens their system.
9. Provide options, while we do not allow children to come sick, we realize some parents are going to come anyway. They can sit in the televised areas with their child, but we do not allow sick kids in the classrooms.
10. Have backup plans. I would love to say our teachers never get sick, but they do. And this policy counts for them as well. We love them and hope they are there, but if ill we want them to stay home and rest. This time of year, making sure we beef up the on call list helps teachers know they can be absent without leaving anyone in a bind if they are sick.
I hope you find this useful! Have a happy, healthy fall, and enjoy something pumpkin flavored!
This article originally appeared here.