School staff are preparing for a challenge they have never encountered before – returning to school during a continuing pandemic. Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and a just-in-case Plan D are all in place. Administration leaders are going over every detail of each scenario. Teachers are working on lessons, hoping to bring some type of normalcy for students.
Whatever form classrooms take this fall, here are a few things your church can do to support schools in your community:
Email the Principal and explain that your church is eager to support the school as it reopens.
If your church has not communicated with the administration in the past, let them know you are a church in the area that is willing to help as they reopen. Remember, they may be figuring out some scenarios and adjusting others. Let them know your church is willing to be on “standby” to assist at any time.
Gather a School Ministry Team to coordinate ways your church can serve.
Unique challenges call for unique responses. Your church may not have a “school ministry team,” but this is an important step that communicates to your church family and the community that students are a priority. The team can be made up of current or retired staff, children’s ministry staff or workers, as well as members who bring various skills to the effort. Ask members of the team to commit to serve throughout the year of 2020-2021. Team members can stay in touch with school staff, provide prayer updates, and coordinate volunteering opportunities and donations.
Recruit classroom helpers from your church.
Your School Ministry Team can connect individuals with classrooms to serve as a Classroom Helper. For example, individuals can serve one hour a week, or one day a month, based on what the school needs. Volunteers can help with simple tasks that allow the teacher to focus on students. Because each school and class are unique, having one or two helpers in each class will ensure better support that meets real needs. Helpers can give current updates to the School Ministry Team that will shape a church-wide response.
Provide literacy training at your church.
The ability of children to read is critical – not only to their education – but the course of their lives.
Studies have revealed one the greatest factors for crime and poverty is the inability to read well by fourth grade. Kids who read well are more likely to live well. But the pandemic has put many young learners behind in reading. Georgia Baptist Literacy Missions provides a network of trainers and resources that can help your church support schools through tutoring children. Read Georgia is a new program designed to train volunteers and help students catch back up on reading. You can learn more about Read Georgia and Georgia Baptist Literacy Missions at https://gabaptist.org/literacymissions/.
Collect and donate items.
As the economy continues to come back to life, many families are still struggling with rent, food, and other bills. School supplies and clothes seem impossible. Your church has the opportunity to reflect the kindness of Christ by providing many of these items.
Keep in mind that schools who won’t meet in person will have different needs than those who do. Some schools will need tablets or copying paper for “send home” packets, while others may need more traditional supplies such as pencils, crayons, and notebook paper. The staff, especially guidance counselors, social workers, and classroom teachers can give you the best ideas of what to donate. They can also plan the best way to distribute all donations.
Pray for your school – regularly, intentionally, and corporately.
It has been said that prayer moves the heart of God. It also moves the hearts of His people. The power of prayer can transform schools in ways nothing else can. Provide a prayer plan for your church that will cover the entire school year. Set up prayer walks around the campus, as permitted by the administration. Send cards to individual staff and let them know you are praying for them. Pray that the staff will see God at work in the lives of their students and that His revealed glory will draw them to salvation.
Let us know what you are planning to do in your community by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to check out Mission Georgia on social media, or the website for more information. www.missiongeorgia.org
Published August 17, 2020