Today’s post comes from Alex Smith, the CEO of KidCheck, a data security and child safety expert, church safety team leader, and former police officer.
Cold and flu season is fast approaching, and as the old saying goes,
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin
Before the seasonal sickies come knocking on the door of your children’s ministry, here are eight practical steps you can take to be prepared.
1) Follow healthy basic hygiene practices, and then some…
Have children wash their hands or use hand sanitizer when coming into the classroom. Encourage them to avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth, where germs can easily enter the body. Remind children to cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw it away and then wash their hands. Teach them that they can cough into their sleeve or elbow if a tissue is not available.
2) Keep surfaces clean
Supply your teachers and volunteers with a disinfectant to clean commonly shared surfaces regularly even if it’s not visibly soiled. Have them clean common points of contact like counters, tables, and toys between church services, and don’t forget the small stuff…light switches, door knobs, phones, keyboards, and computer mice are all frequent virus hang outs. Some viruses like influenza can survive on objects such as books, desks, and doorknobs and can infect others for two to eight hours after settling on these surfaces.
3) Keep sick children at a distance
Designate your children’s ministry area as a “Well child area”. Communicate with your parents to let them know that they should not bring sick children into the children’s ministry area.
4) Send sick children and volunteers home
Don’t be afraid to uphold your “well child” policy even when it’s tough. Sick children need to stay with their parents and teachers should go home or stay home if they could potentially get others sick.
5) Provide home-based learning
Be proactive and put together a plan and a program to help parents and sick children feel connected even when they miss a service. Let them know in advance that there are resources available so they won’t feel like they’re missing out if they happen to stay home with an illness.
6) Play down perfect attendance
Some kids (and parents) try so hard for perfect attendance that it can be tempting to go to church simply to avoid being counted as “absent.” Be thoughtful if and how you reward attendance, especially during the cold and flu season, and consider making an exception for sick days.
7) Follow the latest health recommendations
Place yourself on the mailing or email list for your local health department and be proactive to inform yourself by finding and visiting informational websites.
8) Communicate with your parents
Let parents know in a letter, or take home, what steps you go through to ensure that their kids stay healthy and ask for their help in keeping your children’s ministry a great place for kids by complying with a “well child” policy. Last but not least…have a plan in place to effectively deal with and communicate with parents in the event of an incident or outbreak.
KidCheck provides secure children’s check-in systems with a focus on child safety. Streamline your check-in process, improve child safety, easily track attendance, and create a positive parent and visitor experience. Learn more with a free demo. For more information, visit www.kidcheck.com