SPECIAL INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19

Thursday, May 14, 2020

As of today, we anticipate the adult services program will remain closed through June 30, 2020, and the Elim school program will continue with remote learning through the Extended School Year (summer school) period.

Elim’s leadership teams are actively planning for re-entry. Fashioned after the Illinois governor’s five-phase re-opening plan for Illinois, Elim has developed the following phased plan:

  • Phase 1 – Shutdown (ended April 30): Programming done remotely. All staff working remotely. Entering facilities for emergencies only.
  • Phase 2 – Essential (Began May 1): All programming done remotely. Staff working remotely with only those deemed “essential,” and given limited, by-permission-only access to Elim facilities.
  • Phase 3 – Necessary (will begin pending announcement from Governor): All programming done remotely. Staff working remotely with only those deemed “necessary” given scheduled, conditional access to workspaces.
  • Phase 4 – Gradual: Guided by regulatory provisions and program specific re-entry plans, a gradual resumption of in-person programming and commensurate staffing take place.
  • Phase 5 – Full: Based on regulatory provisions and program specific re-entry plans, conditional full resumption of on-campus programming and staffing take place.

 

As I have mentioned in my previous communication, Elim is transitioning into Phase 3: the “Necessary” phase where programming is done remotely, and staff deemed “necessary” are given scheduled, conditional access to workspaces.   

While initially small numbers of staff determined “necessary” by their supervisors begin to return to campus, we are also actively considering how to adjust and/or enhance Elim’s service provisions in light of our regulations, the programming needs of those we serve, and the safety of our staff and participants.

Proactively, Elim leadership is developing Phase 4, with gradual program re-entry plans with input from third party re-entry specialists. We ask you to pray for us as we develop what are the most difficult components of our re-entry plan.

I want you to know that the safety of our staff and participants, as well as regulatory considerations, will guide our program specific re-entry plans. This is not always easy, but it is necessary and important, and I so appreciate the careful and responsible attention that our Coronavirus Task Force is paying to these special needs as we seek to protect and care for people with disabilities in a way that best engages them but also keeps them safe and healthy.

My prayer is that the Elim family will continue to be known by our love and unity expressed in the biblical passages below as we journey together through 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

I am, like you, deeply troubled by the events of this past week. At a time when COVID-related shutdowns were beginning to loosen, the grip of prejudice and inequality have resurfaced in disturbing ways that call all of us to reflect and be introspective about our cultural awareness and bias. 

Elim has a diverse employee, student, and client population for which we give thanks to God. Each of us has our own lived experience, and for people of color, particularly African-Americans, that lived experience is disproportionately affected by injustices in our society. In light of this I humbly invite us into a time of reflection and prayer for those in our Elim family who carry an especially heavy load in these trying times.    

As a beautiful, diverse, well-intentioned, and admittedly imperfect community, Elim aspires to a core value that everyone has value and purpose – because we are all created in the image of God. It is an identity that all of humanity shares equally.  

In light of that, as we continue to pray for our country, let’s also double down on what it will take to make that aspiration a reality.   

Elim friends and family, in the midst of these challenging and troubling times, let’s continue to be #ElimStrong by making the choice to confront the brokenness we see with the repentant spirit that David modelled for us in Psalm 51:10: 

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” 

 

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.

Sincerely,

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