Dear Bigs and Parents/Guardians of Littles,
Thank you again for working with us to put kids first and keep each other safe – especially during this past year. Through it all, we have seen the adaptability, strength, creativity, and care of our Bigs, Littles, and families. At times, it’s been hard. And still, you’ve instilled encouragement, fun, learning, and hope by sticking with it and sticking with each other. As we continue navigating this together, we are here for you and will keep you informed of our agency’s evolving guidelines and opportunities.
Guidelines for Matches
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana (BBBSCI) is committed to keeping our Bigs, Littles, families, employees, and supporters healthy and safe. We continue to take steps to prevent the spread and mitigate the risks of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
With evolving guidelines, progress with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and warmer temperatures on the way, we re-evaluated our programming and maintain the following recommendations effective April 1, 2021 until further notice.
Match Relationships: Children are not exempt from the stress associated with the pandemic. They’ve seen disruptions in going to school, visiting friends or extended family, and are experiencing reduced interactions with other supportive adults, e.g., teachers, counselors, or coaches. It is very important that they feel their Big’s support and encouragement. Consistency and communication can provide a significant benefit and mitigate stress caused by these changing times. To provide the very best for your match, our expectation is that all matches will maintain some form of weekly contact, with at least one activity (in-person or online) each month.
In-person Meetings: As long as all parties are comfortable, in-person match meetings may occur outdoors or indoors; however, for the time being, we ask Bigs and Littles to continue wearing masks or facial coverings (whether there is a mask mandate in place or not) and practice social distancing. Regardless of the Little’s age, the visit must be approved by the Parent/Guardian ahead of time. Please also review and abide by these CDC guidelines for Personal and Social Activities.
- Location of Meeting – Visits should occur in a setting that accommodates social distancing measures. Outdoor activities are highly encouraged.
- Transportation – Bigs are permitted to transport Littles in their personal vehicles. We know transportation barriers exist in our community, and this may be the primary way to ensure matches meet consistently. Should a Big decide to transport their Little, the following conditions apply for everyone’s health and safety: a Parent/Guardian must give permission; the Little must sit in the back seat; masks must be worn by Bigs and Littles at all times; time spent in the vehicle should be kept to a minimum; and hand sanitizer should be used before and after each ride.
- Protective Measures – Anyone participating in an in-person visit must wear a mask or facial covering. BBBSCI will be happy to supply masks if needed; just call your MRS to arrange. Anyone participating in the visit should adhere to social distancing guidelines. As always, please wash and sanitize hands before and after the visit. We do not recommend in-person visits if anyone living in either home is considered to be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or has an increased likelihood of exposure to COVID-19.
- Health Screening – The Big and Little must be able to answer “no” to the following questions the day of an in-person meeting. If either party answers “yes” to any of the questions, the meeting should be rescheduled or held virtually.
- Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19, or have you been advised by a health care professional, to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to COVID-19 concerns in the past 14 days?
- Do you currently have, or in the last 3 days, have you had, any of the following symptoms?
- Fever (>100.4) or Chills
- New Loss of Taste or Smell
- Shortness of Breath and/or Difficulty Breathing
- Congestion or runny nose
- Sore throat
- Muscle or body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
- In the last 14 days, have you been in close contact to anyone who has informed you that they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who has been advised by a health care professional to self-quarantine or isolate who has not received a negative COVID 19 test?
- In the past 14 days, have you traveled to one of the following states that the Marion County Health Department has identified as having high COVID-19 prevalence (over 300 new cases per 100,000 residents)?
- In the past 14 days, have you or another member of your household traveled internationally?
- Reporting: Should someone in either the Big’s or Little’s household test positive with COVID-19 after an in-person interaction, we ask that this information is reported to the opposite party and BBBSCI staff immediately. To ensure everyone’s safety, BBBSCI will share information with other parties if Big/Parent is unable to share in a timely manner. In-person visits should stop until 14 days have passed or CDC guidelines can be met.
Virtual Meetings: If anyone in the match party is not comfortable with an in-person meeting, your decision to meet virtually is completely supported. Scheduling these times ahead can make it easier to connect and stay consistent. Bigs should communicate a proposed plan with their Little and the Parent/Guardian and work together to find the right communication method and timing. Remember, consistency is key to building and sustaining relationships and trust. All match parties are expected to have weekly communication (call, text, email, video chat, etc.) and participate in at least one online activity per month (individual or agency-hosted). Bigs should schedule all interactions in advance and communicate the plan to stay connected and consistent.
Agency Activities and Support: We encourage you to make the best decisions for you and your family, stay informed, and continue to follow the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for preventing the spread of illness. As always, we are here to provide support; help you navigate your match relationship during this unusual times; and offer activities and opportunities to help you keep connected.
- Group In-person Match Activities: BBBSCI staff are increasing the frequency of group outdoor match activities where social distancing guidelines can be followed. Continue to check the Big App for these opportunities.
- Group Virtual Match Activities: Ongoing virtual group activities will be scheduled to help facilitate interactions with Bigs and Littles alongside other matches. Please check the Big App or ask your Mentoring Relationship Specialist for all offerings.
- Ongoing Support: As always, your Mentoring Relationship Specialist is available should you have any questions or concerns.
Vaccine Information: If you or your loved ones are considering the COVID-19 vaccine, we invite you to watch this video for additional information https://vimeo.com/520142193. If you have additional questions, please let us know. We’d be happy to connect you to more information.
BBBSCI will continue to monitor the evolving recommendations and guidelines related to COVID-19. Please stay tuned for ongoing updates and let us know if you have any questions.
Senior Director, Mentoring Relationships & Program Outcomes