Planning for Back to School

It’s the beginning of September, and it’s time to start thinking about going back to school. Except some of us have been thinking about this for months. What will school look like this year? Will we be in-person? Hybrid? Online? The changes brought by COVID-19 have affected every aspect of our lives, including school. Whether you are a student, parent, educator, administrator, or grandparent, the uncertainties of returning to school are at the top of our minds.

Thankfully, we have a God who is with us at all times, and especially during times of worry or uncertainty. At the end of the gospel of Matthew, before Jesus ascended into heaven, he said, “Remember, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” That was true 2,000 years ago, and it is true for us today. Jesus is here. Always.

At Shepherd of the Valley, we have carefully made plans for the start of a new year in children and youth programming. After surveying and listening to our families, we intend to offer three programs this year for GodZone and Confirmation. We also plan to have a worship option in the Sanctuary on Sundays starting in October (likely our pre-recorded worship service with a few live elements – more information will be coming soon).

Option 1: Family Faith at Home
Katie Strand, our Family Ministries Director, will be leading families through a combination of bi-monthly family gatherings (either in-person or online) and experiences/activities that can be done at your pace and on your schedule at home. This can be done in addition to OR instead of age-specific programming.

Option 2: Online Only GodZone & Confirmation
Kids will meet with their age-level peers and a volunteer leader weekly through Zoom. Presentations, activities, and discussions are designed to be age-appropriate and engaging for students age 3 through Grade 9.

Option 3: In-Person GodZone & Confirmation
Students will meet weekly on Sunday mornings (Preschool – Grade 3) or Wednesday evenings (Zone 45 and Confirmation) with a small group of their age-level peers and a volunteer leader. Room capacity and group size is limited for safety. Children will meet in groups of five students and one leader, will sit six feet apart at their tables, and be required to wear masks.

Because we will be unable to safely merge classes together, our space limitations for in-person programs is limited to the number of volunteers. Currently, we are at our maximum number of kids per volunteer for many of our grade levels. Please consider volunteering so that we can open more spaces for in-person learning.

Finally, for our families, students and school leaders, this blessing is for you:

Go into the world, your schools, your homes and be Christ’s light!

Let your lights not be diminished in the midst of change. Let them find ways to shine even brighter.

Be the light of love to all.

Be the light of patience when days are long, when technology does not work, when new ways of doing things are hard.

Be the light to shine on new ideas and new ways of learning.

Be thankful for the lights of others who work hard to create fun, engaging, and challenging ways to lead our students.

Be the light of joy for a new school year, new friends, and new ways of learning.

You are the light of the world!

Go into the world and shine bright with kindness, patience, energy, and love!

Please pick up a sticker (shown) for your folder, backpack, or electronic device at Door 3 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This will remind you all year that you are the light!