PREP - Parish Religious Education Program
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary PREP
August 17, 2020
Dear PREP Families:
Hoping you and your families are well and able to maintain peace with all the changes due to the Coronavirus. We have worked hard to create a good plan for the reopening of PREP that prioritizes our commitment to train the children according to the teachings of the Church while maintaining a safe and clean environment. Each week I will send you another portion of our plan so that you have a clear understanding and expectations for the opening of PREP. We will begin with an opening Mass for only students and parents in grades 4th – 8th grades on Monday, September 14, 2020. After Mass those students may pick-up their books and PREP calendars as they are dismissed from church. (Students in grades 1st- 3rd will receive their books and calendars at their first class on Monday, September 21, 2020.) At any point if you have questions about the opening plan, please let me know as I welcome clarity and ways to better serve our families.
Let us begin with open minds and prayerful hearts for the success and safety of all our children and families. Many in the Church wonder if the interruption in our regular routine of religious education will lead to a decrease in faith. However, with your commitment and persistence, this could instead bring about a blossoming of faith in your family and deepened commitment to Christ and His Church.
For many years this opening letter stated, “While the Religious Education Program seeks to create an atmosphere of prayer, study, and discussion to increase each child’s awareness of God’s presence in the world, you serve as the primary educators for your child/children.” Here is the full text from the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2223):
“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. This requires an apprenticeship in self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery-the preconditions of all true freedom. Parents should teach their children to subordinate the ‘material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.’ Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them…” (CCC 2223)
(Please take time to read the attached information.)
May our dear Lord bless you and keep you safe and sound.
With peace and blessings,
Mrs. Mary Spieker
Director of Religious Education
Phased Children’s Catechesis & Youth Ministry
Reopening Health & Safety Plan Template
Saint Elizabeth of Hungary PREP, Whitehall, PA
- Pandemic Coordinator & Team
(Name - Community Group Represented - Responsibilities)
Rev. John Pendzick - Pastor - Supervisor and Advisor
1 Mary Spieker - Administrator - Pandemic Crisis Response Team
2 Rev. Jojappa Adagatla - Clergy - Pandemic Crisis Response Team
3 Deacon Michael Meder - Clergy - Pandemic Crisis Response Team
4 Kim Kocher - School Principal - School Advisor & Substitute Catechist
5 Tina Roman,RN, MSN, CRRN - Medical Nurse Rep. - Medical Professional Advisor
6 Stephanie Figueroa - Catechist - Catechist – Voices Concerns
7 Tommy Pham - Volunteer - Temperature/Monitor
8 Nancy Hendrickson - Volunteer - Temperature/Monitor
- What is your scheduled first day of classes for the 2020-2021 school year?
Monday, September 14, 2020 – PREP Mass, receive schedule and student books: only for students and families in 4th – 8th grade
Monday, September 21, 2020 – First Class – students in grades 1-3 will receive their books during the first class.
- How will you plan to bring students, family, volunteers, and staff back to your building?
St. Elizabeth PREP is planning on bringing grades 1-2-3 and 6-7-8 back to fully face-face classes in September. Grades 4 & 5 are piloting an on-line program through Sadlier. However, they will also attend about once a month for in person contact, Masses, etc.
All families are asked to keep their children home if they have been exposed to the virus or are sick in anyway. No family members will be allowed into the building, but can drop off and pick up their children at the doors. All 1-2-3 grade students will enter and leave through the parish hall and have tables which will be their temporary classrooms until the environment is safe. 4- 5 grades are having instruction on-line, but will be asked to come to special events throughout the year. 6-7-8 will come into and leave by the school building following all signs and protocols in place by the school authority and use the classrooms assigned for those grades. Only catechists and small number of volunteers may enter the building. All will have temperature checks before they enter.
- How will you engage children, family members, volunteers, and staff in re-opening your program?
Weekly communications (e-mail) will be sent starting the week of August 16 reiterating our plan and adding important safety information like bringing all their own equipment, water bottle (if needed), hand sanitizer, etc. (NO FOOD ALLOWED) Various links will be added to the communications to help prepare parents for safety concerns.
- How will you communicate your plan to your community?
Our plan, once approved, will be posted on the parish website and send home to our PREP community. It will be available for the school staff and families to view as well to give them peace of mind of the measures being taken to ensure safety.
- How will you communicate changes to the plan?
Any changes will be swiftly discussed with the pastor and team, put into writing and shared with the PREP community along with an update on the parish website. Most communication is via e-mail with REMIND App texting.
- What will prompt a program closure or other significant modification to operations?
We will follow the guidelines and recommendations set forth by the CDC, State of PA and the Diocese of Allentown. In the case that students are exposed on campus, we will need to go to a 14 day quarantine, basically skipping class for a week and assigning at-home work. In the case that the state or local authorities ask all to close because of the spread of germs, we will close immediately and plan to do our best teaching on-line using such systems as Zoom and Google Classroom, e-mails, texts and phone calls to stay connected.
- Who will be trained on cleaning and social distancing protocols?
Our team, all PREP catechists and volunteers will have a class to discuss these protocols. We also will meet a week before class to “walk” through all the plans and answer any questions.
- When and how will the training be provided?
We will begin with a Zoom meeting on August 20 and keep in regular communication as we continue to implement further safety ideas. We can meet again if needed, otherwise our catechists and volunteers will also receive the weekly e-mails sent to the parents. On September 14, after our opening Mass, we will gather for a walk through of the facility and review all plans for cleaning and distancing.
- How will classrooms/learning spaces be organized to mitigate spread (desks 6 feet apart, limited sharing of materials, restricting consumption of food and drink, posting highly visible signs describing proper hygiene)?
The school will already have sign-age in place. The parish hall is well-spaced and the children will be guided by their catechists and volunteers on the procedures. Seats on benches will be marked and spaced apart to six feet for students in grades 1-2-3. Seating in the classrooms will already be spaced for the school students. Each student must bring in all their own materials; there will be no sharing unless items can be properly sanitized on the spot. No food or drink will be allowed. Young children are only on the premises for 75 minutes so that it should be easy enough for them to abstain. The older students only for 90 minutes and should be easy enough for them as well.
- How will you group students with volunteers and staff to limit the number of individuals who come into contact with each other throughout classes (and also limit visitors)?
No visitors are allowed. Our PREP classes are small – usually anywhere from nine to 16 students. This year, we anticipate even smaller classes because of parents’ reluctance to send their children. (Those children will be homeschooled.) Grades 1-2 will have aides to assist while any large upper grade class will also have an aide to monitor and make sure students are distanced and are following procedures. Other volunteers will assist where needed.
- What policies and procedures will govern use of other communal spaces within the building (staggering times halls are used, adjusting arrival and dismissal times)?
We will ask the parents to make sure all children go to the bathroom before coming to class as we will not have bathroom breaks unless there is an emergency. All students will go directly to their classes and seats without delay. Students in 1-2-3 will have dismissal at 7:15 PM, dismissing 1st grade first, one at a time. Parents will be asked to stand distanced AND masked outside the parish hall for their children. Grades 4 & 5 (If and when they have class) will dismiss from the school at 7:20 PM. Grades 6-7-8 will dismiss one class at a time, socially distanced at 7:30 PM - all following the one way walk traffic signs.
- How will you utilize outdoor space to help meet social distancing needs?
- Will any of these social distancing and other safety protocols differ based on age and/or grade ranges? No
We will follow the school’s outlined procedure for all grades. All students will review each week the safety protocols and will be well-monitored.
- Students will be distanced 3-6 feet apart
- Students will wear masks the entire time. Catechists and volunteers will wear masks and face shields.
- Parents will be asked to equip their child with individual hand sanitizer.
- All will be asked to sanitize their hands upon arrival.
- Classroom windows will be opened to provide good ventilation.
- Parents will be asked to make sure their children are equipped with their own books and pencils each week, water bottles if necessary. There will be no sharing!
- No movement will be allowed during class time.
- When Mass, the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Adoration is offered during the pandemic, students and families will be asked to enter and leave church together without using any other facility.
- 6. How will you ensure the building is cleaned and ready to safely welcome students, volunteers, and staff?
The school has already placed routines for the cleaning of the classrooms several times during the day. I will trust that the classrooms, desks and tables are all sanitized upon our arrival. We will likewise sanitize all areas used by staff and students in the evening. A cleaning company, City Wide of the Lehigh Valley will also clean each night to prepare for the next day.
- How will you procure adequate disinfection supplies meeting OSHA and CDC requirements for COVID-19?
Our parish custodian has already purchased ample supplies of disinfectant supplies for the school and our PREP use.
- What protocols will you put in place to clean and disinfect after classes?
Each catechist will be asked to clean the areas used by themselves and the students after class. The catechists in the parish hall will have squirt bottles, disinfectant spray and clothes to wipe down all areas. All volunteers will assist in the cleaning, as well. A cleaning company, City Wide of the Lehigh Valley will clean each night to prepare for the next day.
Week of August 31, registration, youtube on proper face masks, distancing, washing, What to do if ill, temperatures, quarantining,
- What is the policy/procedure regarding face coverings for volunteers and staff?
All staff and volunteers will be asked to wear a mask as well as a face shield during class which has already been purchased.
- What is the policy/procedure for students?
Parents will be sent a check list of questions before bringing their children to class. They are encouraged to monitor their child’s symptoms every day. (See attachment from the CDC.) All students are expected to wear face masks from the time they enter the building to the time they leave the building.
- How will you monitor students, volunteers, staff, and others who interact with each other to ensure they are healthy and not exhibiting signs of illness?
My staff, volunteers and I will be constantly aware of following protocol. I will be in circulation to monitor and problem solve. My catechists know the signs and contact me through text messaging in the case of an emergency.
- Where and when will the monitoring take place (e.g. parent or child report from home or upon arrival, taking temperatures, asking questions about symptoms)?
See above #2. Parents will be asked to read and reflect on the screening checklist at home every Monday before sending their child to PREP. PREP volunteers will take temperatures before anyone enters the building including all staff, volunteers and students. Anyone with a temperature at 100.4 or higher will not be allowed in. Anyone exhibiting signs of illness during class will be removed from class and sent home immediately.
- What is the policy for quarantine if a staff, volunteer, student, or other member of the community becomes ill or has been exposed to an individual confirmed positive for COVID-19?
The school has a holding area set-up for such emergencies. We will keep a student there until a family member arrives for pick-up. Adults will leave the building immediately. This isolation area will be in the lobby of the parish hall and close to the doors for easy pick-up purposes.
- What conditions will a student, volunteer, or staff confirmed to have COVID-19 need to meet to safely return to the program?
The same as recommended by the CDC:
- 1) at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since resolution of fever without the aid of fever reducing medication (Less than 100.0 degrees F.)
- 2) improvement of respiratory symptoms i.e. cough, shortness of breath, unexplained muscle aches or loss of senses: smell, taste.
- 3) At least ten days have passes since onset of symptoms.
- 4) A clearance note from the doctor.
Quarantined students and staff can return to face-to-face instruction after 14 days of quarantine.
- How will you accommodate volunteers and staff who are unable or uncomfortable to return?
All of my staff and volunteers have all agreed to return to face-to-face classes. If at any point they no longer feel safe, I am asking them to prepare to go to on-line learning. In any case, I am there to help problem solve and manage the situations that abound.
- How will you accommodate students who are unable or uncomfortable to return?
Students who are unable or uncomfortable to return are asked that their parents homeschool them at this interval. If we should go to on-line learning at any point, the parent may opt to go in that direction. Homeschooling will be monitored and evaluated strictly by the DRE.
- When and how will families be notified of confirmed student, volunteer, or staff illness or exposure and resulting changes to the local Health and Safety Plan?
As soon as we know it has been confirmed, we will use all communication methods, email and texting, to notify the parents. In this case and after discussion with our pastor (depending on the situation) we will cancel class the following week to adhere for the two weeks quarantine.
- Who will be trained on protocols for monitoring student, volunteer, and staff health?
The DRE , Planning Team, catechists and volunteers.
- When and how will the training be provided?
We will begin with a Zoom meeting on August 20 to discuss our opening plan. We can meet again, if needed; otherwise they will also receive the weekly e-mails sent to the parents. On September 14, after our opening Mass, we will gather for a walk through the facility and review all plans for cleaning and distancing.
- What special protocols will you implement to protect students, volunteers, and staff at higher risk for severe illness?
At this point, I am unaware of students or volunteers at higher risk. Anyone at higher risk will be given the option of doing homeschooling or teaching from an on-line venue.
- How will you ensure enough substitute catechists are prepared in the event of volunteer illness?
I already have a strong staff of volunteers and if need be one can assume the teaching position. Also, I have two-three school teachers who are willing to volunteer in the PREP classrooms if needed. I am truly grateful for all our dedicated and faithful volunteers.
St. Elizabeth welcomes you and your family to our P.R.E.P. catechesis where we instruct our children in the beliefs, teachings, practices and traditions of the Roman Catholic faith.
We welcome children from the parish in grades Kindergarten through 8th.
Classes are held on Mondays from 6:00 – 7:30 PM in the St. Elizabeth Regional School classrooms from September to April. We welcome parents and family members to serve as assistant catechists and volunteers in the program. Please call the parish office 610-266-0695 ext 208 for more information, or contact our Director of Religious Education directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.