Thursday, May 14, 2020

On Thursday, April 30, Elim received the following update from the Illinois Department of Human Services: “With the extension of the Governor’s Shelter in Place order until May 31, we want to confirm that CDS sites will remain closed. We ask that CDS providers not resume services until the Division provides official notice to do so.” CDS sites refers to programs like Elim’s adult services. Therefore, we anticipate the program will remain closed through May 31, 2020.

All schools in Illinois received the following notification about the status of Extended School Year (ESY) 2020 from the Illinois State Board of Education: 

The Governor’s Restore Illinois plan to reopen the state places in-person schooling in Phase 4 of five phases. Most regions in Illinois are experiencing Phase 2 as of early May. Schools and districts should plan to conduct summer school via remote learning in 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency. Remote learning for summer school will mean that learning will continue to occur outside of the traditional classroom; educators and students will remain physically separated. 

While the reality of ESY via remote learning only may be a difficult one for any of us to handle, I want to affirm and encourage us as we move forward.  

Elim’s leadership team is actively planning for eventual re-entry. As we do so, foremost on our minds is the safety of our students, participants, and staff. Our recent focus has been on securing all needed personal protective equipment (sanitizer, gloves, and masks, etcetera) and we are actively collaborating about re-entry plans for both the school and adult service programs. As our plans crystalize, we will begin initiating staff training to prepare for that re-entry.

DON’T MISS UPDATES: To ensure you do not miss these important notifications, please connect with either Jill Brokop in Children’s Services (Jill.Brokop@elimcs.org), or Anne Wierenga in Adult Services (Anne.Wierenga@elimcs.org) to let them know your contact information. Please also note that you will be receiving notification phone calls from a different phone number than with previous phone calls. Please add his new number to your address book to ensure you do not miss future notifications.


A personal note from the President

First of all, I am so absolutely impressed by the ways that Elim staff and Elim families remain connected and supportive of each other. What you are tasked to do, which is to make programming progress in a remote only world, is very challenging. Your creativity and resolve are truly humbling! 

While we are all doing our best in the midst of a pandemic and shutdown that none of us wanted and that all of us would like to see end, it is important that we remember that we are not in this alone. We have each other and of course God is with us each step of this journey The Bible is full of stories of people who encountered unbelievably challenging, often prolonged circumstances that stretched them beyond what they felt they could bear. Elijah, Jeremiah, Isaiah, even David all found themselves crying out for help.   

In the book of Numbers God gives us a glimpse into a situation with similarities to what we are facing at Elim in the midst of this unprecedented COVID 19 pandemic. During a seemingly endless and back-breaking wandering sojourn through the desert, Moses calls out to God in Numbers 11:10-15 and says: 

If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death, right now.”  

God responds to Moses in Numbers 11:17 by: 

Taking the Spirit that is on you (Moses) and also putting it on them (70 of Israel’s leaders), so they will help you carry the burden.  

In the midst of a difficult journey with no immediate end in sight, God surrounds Moses with partners. That’s what God is doing for us at Elim as well.  

God has not only given us each other to help carry the heavy load, he has brought in other partners as well. Just four of the many examples from this past week alone:  

  • Elim was put in contact with friends of Elim who are “re-entry specialists” who have already come alongside of Elim’s Coronavirus Task Force and Leadership Team as we go about planning for eventual re-entry. 
  • A number of Elim’s adult services staff have volunteered to help Bethshan in their time of need. 
  • Elim received 75 face shields made specifically for us by our friends at Timothy Christian Schools! 
  • Ozinga Brothers Inc. Dropped off 4,800 face masks for Elim’s use at re-entry!  

Elim family, while there is a heavy load we are asked to carry right now, let’s not lose sight of God who surrounds us with like-spirited people to help share the burden. So be encouraged, you are not in this alone, we are all in this together!   


Covid-19 Cases Connected to Elim

For accurate and complete information regarding Covid-19 infections in the state of Illinois, we recommend that you refer to the infection information provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the CDC. The following articles include stories that connect to or directly impact the Elim community. Please be in prayer for our friends and ministry partners living at or working in adult residential settings.

Recommended Steps for Social Distancing

Adapted from Northwestern University

  • If you are asked to self-isolate you should stay home — in your apartment or your house. Do not go to work, classes, athletic events, or other social gatherings until you are told it is safe to return to normal activities by your medical provider.
  • Limit contact as much as possible. This also means limiting contact with persons living in your residence. Stay 6 feet away from other individuals at all times.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with your upper sleeve or a tissue, and then discard the tissue immediately in a trash basket. Never cough in the direction of someone else.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand rubs after coughing or sneezing or throwing a used tissue in the garbage.
  • Avoid sharing household items. Do not share drinking glasses, towels, eating utensils, bedding, or any other items until you are no longer asked to self-isolate.
  • Keep your surroundings clean. While the virus is not spread very well from contact with soiled household surfaces, try to clean surfaces that you share with others, such as door knobs, telephones, and bathroom surfaces (or any other object that you sneeze or cough on), with a standard household disinfectant such as Clorox wipes. Wash your hands after cleaning the area.
  • Monitor yourself for signs of possible infection, including fever (100.4 degrees F or 38.0 degrees C or higher, measured twice a day), cough or difficulty breathing.


Upon Return to Campuses

Once we do return to our campuses, standard precautions for Elim clients, students, staff, and families will apply. It is important to reiterate that the best way to protect ourselves is to continue to employ the standard precautions that we employ everyday:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects, equipment, and surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick. If you or your child has a fever, cough, or difficulty breathing and did not have direct contact with a COVID-19 positive person, please contact your primary care provider. If you are concerned that you or your child have had direct contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please contact the CDPH at coronavirus@chicago.gov or call 312-746-4835.


Additional Precautions

In light of the ongoing spread of COVID-19 the Elim community has taken the following additional precautions through at least April 30, 2020:

  • All students who are sent home because they appear to be sick will receive a follow-up wellness call from Elim’s nursing department before they can come back to school.
  • Elim staff supervisors will continue to have authority to send staff home based on their appearing to be sick.
  • Elim staff will not attend conferences or travel to any locations that have a current Level 1-3 COVID-19 travel ban (COVID-19 Travel Alerts). Cruises are also strongly discouraged at this time.
  • All employees and parents/guardians have been required to provide accurate emergency contact information to Elim.
  • Elim programs will participate in no community outings.
  • No volunteers, college and high school visitors will be received on Elim’s campus. Interns, regular IEP or “staffing” meetings, and on-campus focus groups will continue.
  • Elim Learning will offer only virtual support off-campus, and will not visit any of our partner locations in person.
  • Elim has increased the use of sanitizing supplies and is performing extra cleaning at this time.


Additional Information

Elim is committed to fostering an environment that empowers people to come forward and report if they are ill. Stigmatizing COVID-19 will only make us more anxious and ensure community spread. In that spirit, we provide you with the following additional information:

  • Testing for COVID-19 is only a useful option if someone presents with symptoms of the virus (e.g., fever, cough, and shortness of breath). Testing those who are not symptomatic does not provide us with reliable results and potentially, false negatives.
  • For the most reliable and up to date information about COVID-19, please click on the links below:

Illinois Department of Public Health
Chicago Department of Public Health
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois State Board of Education

We appreciate your partnership as we take every precaution to keep our community safe.


Dr. Bill Lodewyk
on behalf of the Elim Coronavirus Task Force and the Elim Leadership Team