Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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.

Elim is now within Phase 4, with gradual program re-entry plans with input from third party re-entry specialists already completed. We are now at 25% census in Adult Services, and it has been going very well. The extensive planning and hard work of our staff generated a service model that is proving to be both safe and functional.The success is welcome affirmation as we continue to plan for higher census re-entry points in both the school and community day services programs.

To that end, Elim continues to refine our re-entry plans which prioritize the safe, in-person engagement of our Christ-centered mission. These plans are fluid and are best when based on workplace-specific input from staff, and communicated by program leaders. Those plans have been posted on our website and have already been shared with all our staff and families.  You can find and review those plans by clicking below:

Elim’s Agency-Wide Exposure Control Plan

 Adult Services Re-Entry Plan    School Re-Entry Plan

IDPH Guidelines for School

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

If there is one thing predictable about the COVID-related environment in which we live, it is that it is unpredictable, frustratingly so.

On August 13, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released updated guidance (which you can find at this link) regarding the reopening of schools. The new safety measures outlined in the guidance included a number of additional requirements that Elim’s leadership teams and nursing department determined we are currently unable to adhere to in order to safely reopen with in-person instruction.

As a result, Elim’s school program will begin the school year remotely through the month of September and then reevaluate the situation at that time. Given the robust re-entry plans that have been developed by staff and communicated by program leaders, we remain optimistic that some form of in-person instruction can begin to take place in October.

This lack of predictability has been frustrating for all of us, particularly for our staff and so many of our families, who are so eager to be together in-person again. Thanks to all of you for your patience, your resolve, and your understanding!

Because the recent IDPH guidance was directed only at schools, Elim’s adult services program continues to function very well at 25% capacity. Plans are solidly in place for an increase to 50% capacity on September 1. Those plans have been posted on our website and have already been shared with staff, families, and partner organizations.

Again, in the spirit of learning and sharing, I am pleased to invite you to join Elim’s leadership team in our journey of cultural competence which is “the ability to understand, communicate with and effectively interact with people across cultures. It is being aware of one’s own worldview and developing positive attitudes towards cultural differences.”  

This month the Leadership Team will view and discuss Phil Vischer’s video “Race in America”: I invite you to join us in being challenged and encouraged by this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGUwcs9qJXY

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.” 

Elim family, may the predictability of God’s loving presence be our inspiration as we work our way through the unpredictabilities of our return to the safe, in-person application of Elim’s mission and vision.

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