SPECIAL INFORMATION REGARDING COVID-19

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

At this time, Elim’s campuses closed through Thursday, April 30, 2020 per Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home Executive Order.

While we have been communicating updates to families and staff prior to posting them online, we are aware that some people have not been receiving all those updates. To ensure you do not miss updates, 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.

 

A personal note from the President

I am grateful to be able to once again connect with you, and provide you with an update and some words of encouragement. This are difficult days to be sure, but in the midst of the difficulty there is still much to be grateful for.

It is certainly worth noting the amazing things that are going on in our Elim family in spite of the isolation we are experiencing. Elim employees are creatively staying connected with each other and with the families they serve. These connections are very important, and I want to thank them for the many ways they are living out Christ’s love every day. Parents, guardians and caregivers, you are amazing! You have had to adjust to a dramatically different reality and you are doing it selflessly and with great love. Your resolve and acts of love are evidence of Christ’s presence.

But, these are still difficult times, made worse by the fact that we do not know how long they will last. This past week I found myself more anxious and fearful than normal, because my daughter who is a medical professional is now closer to the front lines of the pandemic.

In the midst of my anxiety and fear, God has been reminding me that while healthy concern, anxiety, and fear sharpen us, they can also grow and paralyze us. When we sense that happening, we need to push back by doubling down on the truth of God’s word. Did you know that the Bible makes 366 references to fear – one for every day of this year. In Isaiah 41:10 God reminds us:

“Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God.”

But how do we push back on fear, especially in unprecedented times like this? By focusing on the truth of God’s love. 1 John 4:18 God reminds us that there is no fear in love.

“Perfect love drives out fear.”

Focusing on God’s perfect, unconditional and eternal love for us is what pushes back our anxiety and fear. Resting in God’s love enables us to let go of our need to control. By praying, reading scripture, listening to music and/or talking with friends and family who remind us about God’s love, we are building up antibodies to fear.

So Elim family (that includes you), let’s keep going! We are people of faith who encounter the realities of the COVID-19 virus with a focus on God’s perfect love, which pushes back fear. Let this be our experience and our testimony as we continue to isolate and place our trust in God.

Covid-19 Cases Connected to Elim

For accurate and complete information regarding Covid-19 infections in the state of Illinois, I 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