Lutheran Education Under God’s Grace
New safety procedures enable Grace Chapel Lutheran School to continue providing a Christ-centered education to children in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo.
On a recent September day, seventh-graders at Grace Chapel Lutheran School in Bellefontaine Neighbors, Mo., studied the parts of a plant cell, while kindergarteners practiced sight words down the hall.
It was a normal school day — or as normal as it can be when everyone in the building is wearing masks and some students attend class via videoconferencing. Of Grace Chapel’s 120 elementary-age students, 40 students’ families opted for virtual learning in Fall 2020.
“It’s been pretty challenging. It definitely takes a lot of extra time, a lot of extra planning,” fourth-grade teacher Daneen Hanson said of prepping for both sets of students while also navigating the inevitable technology issues that have arisen.
Yet, Grace Chapel’s teachers and staff members have met these challenges head-on and are providing the best Lutheran education possible while adhering to rigorous new procedures, including daily health screenings, constant mask usage and lunch delivery directly to kids in their classrooms. “We’re trying to keep each class self-contained, including bathroom breaks, recess and lunch,” said Principal Eric Brofford.
Teachers also have to remind students — especially the younger ones — to wear their masks properly and stand patiently in the designated spots along the hallway. “Social distancing and no sharing is hard … of course the kids gravitate toward each other,” Hanson said. “They want to play, and they want to be with each other.”
Despite these challenges, Brofford said the school didn’t even consider going all virtual. “School is a safe place for our students, a place where they feel comfortable,” and a place where God’s Word is shared even amid a pandemic.
Pray with Us
O God, our heavenly Father, You love children and delight when they call upon Your name. Bless those who teach, that they would instruct those in their care according to Your will. We especially thank You for teachers, principals and school staff, who have labored during this pandemic to ensure children can continue to receive instruction. Guide those who make decisions as they find new ways to fulfill their vocations to teach the young. Bless the students as they learn in new and unfamiliar circumstances. May nothing hinder the clear teaching of Your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
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Megan K. Mertz
Managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World and chief copy editor for LCMS Communications.