Back to School – Students Begin Second Academic Year in Coronavirus Pandemic
Matthew Johnson, Connectional Ministries and Communications Assistant
For youth and parents, returning to school has always been a time of excitement and new beginnings. In the second year of the Coronavirus Pandemic, there is unease for parents who want to keep their children safe, and youth who have grown weary of the pandemic lock down life. Youth ministers have the responsibility to adhere to Coronavirus precautions that will keep their members safe while also creating discipleship and community for youth in their care.
The rise of the Delta variant of coronavirus is justifiably causing parents to be more cautious about large group school and church activities.
Youth activities at Sylvester United Methodist Church in Forest, have been put on hold.
“There are mixed emotions,” said youth minister Tony Williams. “Some are okay some are afraid. Many youth are ready to get out of the house because they haven’t been doing a whole lot. Youth are ready to come, parents not so much.”
Youth minister Walter Roberts at Galloway Memorial United Methodist Church, who’s activities have also been put on hold, shares the same sentiment.
“Youth want community and want to be with friends. Parents are cautious because of the rising case numbers,” Roberts said.
Youth ministers are conscious of parents’ wishes and the safety guidelines set forth by the Mississippi United Methodist Conference, pastors and federal and state Authorities. One blessing of this time is that youth ministers are creating solutions, so their members won’t miss out on building their faith in God.
“We moved to geographic life groups,” said Roberts. “Small groups outdoors with masks and social distancing. We also really lean into checking with parents and how best we can support them.”
Williams has also taken a small group approach with his youth.
“My wife and I have been meeting with youth one on one,” said Williams. “We also make sure we call them often.”
The once in a lifetime Coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent Delta variant gives parents great reasons to be cautious for young people attending school and church activities since many are too young to be vaccinated. The challenges the pandemic has caused allows youth leaders to find creative ways to continue the sense of community for youth to know that they are cared for and loved.
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