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People who are COVID-cautious and have kept up with COVID research--question re: Sunday School masking


MercyA
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As I mentioned in another thread, I am still requiring masks inside my Sunday School classroom. No masks required when we meet outside, which I do when weather permits.

This is the status in my county:

1.02% positivity

About 36% of people have been vaccinated with one dose

Most of the church is anti-vax. They do not social distance, wear masks, or take other precautions.

I have an average of two kids in my class. The maximum I could have now (excluding visitors, which are rare) is five kids. In the fall, I will have the possibility of six or seven kids in my class, but the vast majority of the time I will probably have only three or four.

We have a large-ish room. The desks are spaced as close to six feet apart as I can get them, but the kids don't always stay in them.

I was hoping beyond hope that the vaccination would be available this fall, but it looks like that's not going to happen. 

Based on the available research at this point, would you continue to require masks?

Don't quote please.

Edited by MercyA
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I would. But reading your tales of covid skepticism and outright denial I'm not sure you'll be able to require masks for anything church related. I'm really sorry; we left our synagogue because they flouted the covid rules back in 2020 and they have not changed one iota. Various friends who stayed out went back after the worst was over keep asking us back. It is not gonna happen until the leadership changes (and knowing said leadership, that isn't going to happen in the near future). We have mourned that loss. We still don't know what we will do for our youngest's bar mitzvah in 1.5 years. We hope Israel will be an option! I'll pray for G-d's guidance and peace on the matter for you and your family.

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Mercy, is this a windowless room? We are not masking our kids, but there is a window open and a whole house exhaust fan outside the classrooms pulling air through during the class. We have done this through all weather, all throughout the winter months. 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Calm37 said:

Mercy, is this a windowless room? We are not masking our kids, but there is a window open and a whole house exhaust fan outside the classrooms pulling air through during the class. We have done this through all weather, all throughout the winter months. 

No, but the windows are old and kind of crumbing around the edges. And they are in the basement, so they open to window wells.

Should I be worried about asbestos or lead in an old building with the window frames in ill repair?

I would have to put the fans inside my classroom somehow. Would regular box fans work, I wonder?

I should look into this, though! Thank you! 

Any additional advice / input on this option welcome. I do keep my door open.

Edited by MercyA
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3 minutes ago, MercyA said:

I would have to put the fans inside my classroom somehow. Would regular box fans work, I wonder?

Box fans with HEPA filters attached to one side work quite well. I can post you a link later of how to make one. Even better, you can use two, one at the doorway and one by the window to really get the air moving through. 

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Whatever you can do to address the ventilation in that room will be well worth it from all that I've read, even if you choose masking. If you have the window open, any fan you use should be blowing into the hallway. If there are heating/cooling vents in the room, make sure the fan is set to ON at the thermostat and not to Auto. This will also help in a small way to keep air moving in the room.

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Are you vaccinated, and do you have any unvaccinated family members?  How worried about you about catching Covid yourself?  Also, can the parents be relied upon to keep the children home if they are exposed or sick?

 

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7 minutes ago, JennyD said:

Are you vaccinated, and do you have any unvaccinated family members?  How worried about you about catching Covid yourself?  Also, can the parents be relied upon to keep the children home if they are exposed or sick?

Yes. No.

Not at all; concerned about limiting community spread.

I made it clear to the board that symptomatic kiddos would need to be taken back to their parents. I don't trust people to keep exposed kids home.

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Can you do it outdoors until the winter sets in?

Honestly, I think I'd take a hiatus from teaching Sunday School if the protocols supported by the church are not safe for you personally.

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Just now, SKL said:

Can you do it outdoors until the winter sets in?

Honestly, I think I'd take a hiatus from teaching Sunday School if the protocols supported by the church are not safe for you personally.

You know what, I didn't today because it was raining, but we could have gone to a covered picnic area. Usually we sit in the grass under the trees.

I'm not worried about my safety. I'm vaccinated. I'm concerned about my kids' health and the health of the community.

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Just now, MercyA said:

Yes. No.

Not at all; concerned about limiting community spread.

I made it clear to the board that symptomatic kiddos would need to be taken back to their parents. I don't trust people to keep exposed kids home.

If you're not at all worried about catching covid yourself, I would concentrate on improving ventilation and not insist on masks unless parents want that to be the norm, which it sounds like is very much not the case.  

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I personally would not ask them to mask, given the facts as stated.

If you believe they should, I think requesting it as a voluntary thing would be OK, but requiring it might be unrealistic.

It sounds like your community has decided they would rather accept the risk, so honestly, your one hour per week with 2-5 kids isn't going to make much difference if any.  You can still recommend it based on your own principles, but if it's a choice between the kids not having Bible study vs. having Bible study + 1 hour of a very small risk that their parents accept?  It's totally up to you which to choose.

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, SKL said:

I personally would not ask them to mask, given the facts as stated.

If you believe they should, I think requesting it as a voluntary thing would be OK, but requiring it might be unrealistic.

It sounds like your community has decided they would rather accept the risk, so honestly, your one hour per week with 2-5 kids isn't going to make much difference if any.  You can still recommend it based on your own principles, but if it's a choice between the kids not having Bible study vs. having Bible study + 1 hour of a very small risk that their parents accept?  It's totally up to you which to choose.

I have required it for the last year and a half, when we've been open, and the board has accepted it.

It's a matter of conscience for me. When the kids are under my care, I can't put them in danger and can't have them endangering others. And I do believe, based on what we know now, that COVID can have long-term effects for them. 

My policy so far has been to stick with CDC guidelines. When the vaccination becomes available for little kids, I may at that point consider that I've done everything I can, especially since I won't know and won't ask about vaccination status.

To me it's like this: if the church decided that it was okay for everyone to drive to church drunk, the whole church would be pretty unsafe, right? And maybe anything I did wouldn't change that much. But I still wouldn't let any of my kids get in a car with a drunk driver during the hour they are under my care. (I am well aware this isn't a perfect analogy, but it gives you an idea of my thinking.)

Edited by MercyA
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I am requiring masking in my music lessons, which are usually me, a student, and maybe a sibling or waiting parent. Only 3 of my students are old enough to be vaccinated, and while the risk is low, I don’t want to take chances with their health when vaccination will likely be available to them in a few months. I run air purifiers, too.

 

Once I was fully vaccinated I did stop using a face shield over my mask. 

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We have been traveling this week through several states (heavily blue areas, if that makes a difference.) Truly, the only place I’ve seen masks anywhere in any significant number was the airport. Maybe the kids could be exposed in your class, but the probability that the class will be the point of contact, as opposed to all the other places the kids go during the week, seems minuscule. Maybe just wear your own mask to be an example, but make it optional for the kids? I strongly suspect that masks will not be used in most schools this fall (for what it’s worth, my background is healthcare, and many family members are employed/retired from public health/epidemiology)

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Is the structure of your church such that you can require this when the church policy says something different? 
 

If so, then I think you have to do what your conscience tells you to do, realizing that some families may not comply or might complain. 

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22 minutes ago, Penelope said:

Is the structure of your church such that you can require this when the church policy says something different? 
 

If so, then I think you have to do what your conscience tells you to do, realizing that some families may not comply or might complain. 

Yes. I let the board know this was a condition of my teaching, and they accepted that. 

Thank you for your encouragement!

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8 hours ago, MercyA said:

Yes. I let the board know this was a condition of my teaching, and they accepted that. 

Thank you for your encouragement!

Good for you for being clear and proactive.

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14 hours ago, MercyA said:

No, but the windows are old and kind of crumbing around the edges. And they are in the basement, so they open to window wells.

Should I be worried about asbestos or lead in an old building with the window frames in ill repair?

I would have to put the fans inside my classroom somehow. Would regular box fans work, I wonder?

I should look into this, though! Thank you! 

Any additional advice / input on this option welcome. I do keep my door open.

If the building is older than the 1980s and the building did not remove the lead I would hesitate before opening and closing windows and especially using fans that will blow lead dust all around the room. Asbestos would also potentially be an issue. 

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9 minutes ago, YaelAldrich said:

If the building is older than the 1980s and the building did not remove the lead I would hesitate before opening and closing windows and especially using fans that will blow lead dust all around the room. Asbestos would also potentially be an issue. 

Thank you! Definitely older than the 1980's and the paint is crumbling.

I think I've pretty well decided to do class outside until it's too cold. It's less convenient for me, but it will probably help me avoid some potential drama. And the kids will like it.

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A problem with ventilation is if you are downwind of the contagious person, lol. Like...great for the person farthest from the fan, but otherwise you may just be blowing droplets AT someone. Something to consider. Could even light some incense to get a visual of the air flow if you wanted to get technical....maybe read bible passages about incense being used and call it a lesson, lol. 

I'm sort of slap happy about this because underneath, I'm furious. And sad. So sad. My church was doing REALLY well. But then they opened up Sunday School and nursery and although they require the volunteers to be vaccinated, it is optional for the students. So...yeah...a bunch of unvaccinated kids in a windowless room, masks not required, is not safe. Not in line with CDC advice. And saying "you can have your kid wear one if you want" is NOT acceptable since masking helps OTHERS. 

So I'm angry. I had JUST started going back. I could go without the kids, like I was, but I'm honestly angry. And also, masks no longer required in th service, which I was okay with prior to Delta, but now? Delta is getting by vaccination a good hunk of the time. So I could get it there, and bring it home to my kids. Including my one with multiple autoimmune diseases. No thanks. 

Yeah, I'm mad. I wish you were my kids' teacher!

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