To all Weekday Childcare Directors and Pastors,
On behalf of the Arkansas Conference Cabinet, I am writing to you who demonstrate a great love for children and their families, to you who understand deeply the importance of weekday childcare services for your community, to you who struggle daily with difficult and weighty decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Weeks ago many of you made the difficult decision to close and a few of you made the difficult decision to remain open. All of you have done your best in trying times, and for that I am grateful.
For those of you whose weekday childcare ministry is currently closed, it is now time – indeed, it is past time – to begin the even more difficult task of deciding how and when to reopen. While we cannot make these decisions for you, we do offer the following guidelines that I hope you will read and follow carefully. They are strict and demanding, but the precious children in your care deserve nothing less, and I am confident that your own love for them will demand even more.
May God bless each of you in your work so that you in turn may be a blessing to the families and children who have placed themselves in your care. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions related to these guidelines, feel free to contact me. If I am not able to help I will find someone who can. Thank you for your ministry!
Yours in Christ,
Jim Polk, Assistant to the Bishop
Weekday Childcare Guidelines for Reopening
- All church weekday childcare programs are encouraged to follow the latest guidance of the bishop and cabinet on how and when churches and church ministries can safely begin to reopen. Note that this guidance relies heavily on Governor Hutchinson’s and the Arkansas Department of Health’s Guidance for Places of Worship issued on May 4.
- Weekday childcare programs are encouraged to follow the bishop’s recommendation and not reopen before June 1. If you can safely and responsibly keep children and staff in groups of 10 or fewer persons, and follow all CDC Childcare Guidelines, you may be ready to reopen when ARUMC Stage 1 begins for Arkansas, currently scheduled for May 31.
- Start preparing now! Your weekday childcare board or advisory committee should work closely with the church’s pastor, Re-Launch Team and trustees to develop a responsible plan for reopening. Remember that all such plans are the responsibility not only of the weekday childcare board but also of the church Board of Trustees, who have the responsibility for managing liability and for making sure that all church facilities are used in a safe and responsible manner.
- In order to reopen, your weekday childcare board or advisory committee must:
- develop a plan showing how they will implement the latest COVID-19 Child Care Guidance from the Department of Health and follow the latest CDC guidelines for sanitation, safety, size, and social distancing;
- check with their insurance provider to help determine areas of possible liability exposure.
- develop guidelines and procedures for deep cleaning and regular sanitizing of all space used by the weekday childcare program prior to re-opening;
- demonstrate the ability of the weekday childcare program to implement the plan; and
- have the plan reviewed and approved by the church trustees and pastor before reopening.
- CDC and Department of Health Guidelines are strict. If you do not feel confident of your ability to open safely, don’t! If you are not confident of your ability to obtain the proper cleaning and health supplies, wait! Even if you do feel prepared, consider opening in stages to give all weekday childcare staff, parents and children time to learn the new protocol.
- Once a date is set for reopening, please inform your District Superintendent.