Wednesday, December 9, 2020

“Joy to the world, the Lord is come…”

The lyrics of this Christmas classic are probably familiar to all of us.

In her devotions for school staff last week, our Vice President of Programming, Dr. Vanesa Scott-Thompson, talked about how challenging it can be to have a spirit of joy when we consider all that is going on in our world, and also at Elim.

With our school program doing remote learning through January 18, community day services faithfully serving as high a percentage of participants as possible, and Elim Learning restricted to remote training and consultation, joy can seem elusive.

These are challenges for us emotionally and spiritually, because we want to do what we are able and willing to do: to serve people in person, with no barriers, and no worries about safely doing so. They are also real for us financially, as the number of people we serve directly impacts our program revenue, which is severely depressed this year.

To be sure, the challenges we face are real, but the joy those challenges take from us can easily be misplaced, especially in this Christmas season.

The focus of our joy as Christians, especially in the Christmas season, is not on our circumstances, but on the gift God has given to us in Jesus. The Bible is very clear that our joy is in Immanuel: “God with us.”

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means God with us).” 

– Matthew 1:23 NIV 

Elim family and friends, as pandemic-weary people, we desperately need this joy, the eternal joy that only Jesus can bring!

“Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They are his people, and he is their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good – tears gone, crying gone, pain gone … Look! I am making everything new.”
– Revelation 21:3-4 MSG

In Christ, joy gives way to hope, because Christ has overcome!

So, while we celebrate the joy of Christmas, let us also confront the challenges we face with hope.

  • We will re-open again for in-person instruction in the school!
  • We will reach a point where we can serve 100% of our adult participants in our community day services program.
  • We will return to in-person training and consultation in Learning!
  • Together, we will tackle the challenges of cleanliness, disconnection, accountability and communication that you as a staff have raised in the focus groups!

Below is a timeline for remote learning:

  • Remote instruction for all students November 30-December 18
  • Christmas break December 21-January 3, 2021
  • January 4-January 15, Remote Instruction
  • January 18, Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday
  • January 19, Blended Learning plan re-implemented

We understand how difficult this will be for students, parents and families. Our staff is committed to provide the most appropriate and beneficial instruction whether we are in person or remote and they continue to exceed expectation in every aspect.

Our adult services program will continue operating at 50% capacity.

As we live in the predictability of unpredictable, I invite us all to soak in the truth that we are more than conquerors in Jesus Christ. As Paul writes in Roman’s 8:38-39:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 

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. For the most reliable and up to date information about COVID-19, please click on the links below:

Illinois 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