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I hope this message finds you happy, healthy, and safe.
I would like to thank you all for your continued commitment to our agency – and to our Littles – during the current COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a life-altering event for us all, but thanks to social distancing and other precautionary measures, we are not aware that any of our Bigs, Littles or staff have contracted the virus. Well done.
While the guidelines from our political and medical leaders are beginning to slowly reopen some non-essential businesses like restaurants and locations like beaches and skate parks, our recommendation is that, for now, you continue to limit the contact with your Big or Little to electronic communication only. We have been inspired by the many creative ways that our matches have been able to stay in touch during these trying times.
With the loosened restrictions on the state’s Stay-At-Home order, we recognize that some of you are anxious to resume face-to-face time with your Little. Be aware that such meetings are currently at your own risk and contrary to our recommendation at this time. While we understand that you miss seeing your Little in person, we strongly encourage you to continue to take advantage of available technology: text, phone calls, e-mail, Facetime, Zoom, Skype, and others. Check out our blog post for more ideas and suggestions for staying connected virtually.
We are trying to look out for everyone’s personal safety and best interest, which includes our Littles and their families as well as our Bigs. With that said, if you choose to still consider taking that step of meeting in person, we ask that you respectfully adhere to the following in the interest of all involved:
- Bigs must always have the express permission of the Little’s parent or guardian to resume in-person outings. Ultimately, the parent or legal guardian of a child have the final say in what their child can do, and what they cannot do.
- Bigs should provide detailed information to the parent or guardian about how you intend to spend your time with the Little, and where you intend to go.
- Limit your time together to outdoor activities such as walks, bike riding, fishing and other open-air activities where maintaining 6 feet of distance between yourselves and others is more possible. Large crowds should be avoided.
- While traveling by car together and otherwise in each other’s company, both you and your Little should follow all guidelines from the Center for Disease Control including wearing a mask.
- Avoid close physical contact with the Little and his/her family (do not hug, shake hands or fist-bump).
- Wash your hands with soap frequently and bring along hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your face (masks help us avoid touching our faces).
- Keep outings to a reasonable length of time but no more than an average of 8 hours per month.
- Do NOT meet face to face if the Big, Little or a family member are experiencing a fever, cough, shortness of breath or other symptoms associated with COVID-19 or if anyone just does not feel good.
- In making this decision, consider whether there are other vulnerable people living in the Little’s home (people who are over the age of 60, pregnant, have a compromised immune system, etc.) So far, over 83% of Floridians who have died from the COVID-19 virus were 65 or older.
- Bigs should pass on these rules to their Littles and continually reinforce them, as well as checking the website for the Center for Disease Control for additional guidance on staying safe.
As always, the health and safety of our children and youth, their families, our volunteers, and our staff remain our highest priority, and keep that in mind in every decision you make. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to your Match Support Specialist for guidance and to discuss.
Regardless of the method, it is crucial that we maintain our mentoring relationships throughout this difficult time. Your Little needs you now more than ever. It is also essential and required that you stay in touch with your Match Support Specialist. At the bottom of this note is a link to many resources relating to the current situation, including ideas on how the Bigs and Littles can enjoy their virtual time together.
It has been an interesting time. In just a matter of weeks, our agency converted all our mentoring programs and the enrollment of new volunteers to a virtual experience: from online orientations, to video interviews and, in recent weeks, to dozens of new matches being introduced virtually. (NOTE: matches that originated virtually must remain virtual until an in-person meeting with a BBBS staff person is able to be conducted.)
We are proud and thankful for everyone who has helped us maintain this important work. For now, be safe. Make good decisions. Reach out if you have questions or concerns. And trust that brighter days are on the way.