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POLICIES PERTAINING TO ALL RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROGRAMS

Overview

Every person has inherent worth and dignity regardless of age, so we expect teachers, students and parents to honor each other by listening with respect; by treating each other with kindness and compassion; by providing an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.

The following are prohibited during all Foothills Unitarian Church sanctioned activities where children or youth are present.

  1. Sexualized behavior of any kind.
  2. Possession and/or use of drugs and alcohol.
  3. All forms of violence (physical, verbal, sexual, and otherwise).
  4. Weapons

1. Guidelines for Children & Youth

Our goal is to aid in the development of each student to the student’s fullest potential. The following policies are specific to RE children and youth.

  1. Children and youth must ask, and be granted permission by an adult RE volunteer before leaving the classroom or meeting space during RE program times.
  2. Supplies and property must be respected and not wasted or destroyed.
  3. Everyone waits their turn to speak.
  4. Each person cleans up their own mess.
  5. Disparaging comments and put-downs will not be tolerated. Students are encouraged to recognize and resist stereotypes and biases and to challenge prejudice.

2. Classroom Covenants

With basic guidelines provided by the RE Committee and staff, each teaching team, in collaboration with their students will create a class covenant which includes standards of acceptable behavior in the classroom. Any student who goes outside these standards will be given two verbal reminders. These reminders will be given in a way that does not embarrass or humiliate the student and, when possible will not be given in front of other students or adults.

3. Consequences of Violating Classroom Covenants

Any student who continues to behave in an unacceptable manner will be offered one of the following options as the teacher or RE Staff member feels is appropriate:

  1. The student will be asked to take a brief “time out” in a corner of the classroom. In a few minutes the teacher will invite the child to rejoin the group with acceptable behavior.
  2. The teacher may contact the RE staff to request that the child or youth help elsewhere in the RE program for the remainder of the session.
  3. The student will be asked to leave the classroom and join his/her parents in the Sanctuary. An adult will escort the child to the sanctuary to assure their safety.
  4. If a student’s behavior results in injury to another person or damage to property, the student will be asked to make restitution appropriated to the severity of the behavior and the age of the student. The child’s parents and the DRE will be included in this decision.

4. Confidential Information

Teachers and advisors may come in contact with information of a confidential nature during check-ins or classes/meetings. A child/youth’s confidentiality should be respected, except under the following circumstances:

  1. If a child is doing harm to themselves.
  2. If a child is doing harm to another.
  3. If someone else is doing harm to a child.

Under these circumstances, the parent/guardian of the child/youth, or the DRE or Minister should be informed. The safety of the child/youth must be the primary driver. If a volunteer is uncertain as to whether or not information should be shared, she/he can speak to the DRE or Minister, who will maintain confidentiality if it is determined that confidentiality, should not be breached. When in doubt, the Minister will make the final decision on whether or not information should remain confidential.

5. Grievance Procedures

Any student or parent who feels that a teacher has behaved inappropriately may register a complaint with the DRE or the RE Committee. They will review the situation to determine what action, if any should be taken. If it is determined that a teacher has been physically or psychologically abusive to any child, that teacher will be immediately removed from his/her teaching position.

General Safety/Medical Policies

  1. Snacks – a light snack will be provided during RE classes. Parents will inform the RE Staff of any food allergies or special dietary needs that a child/youth has on their registration form. All food allergies will be posted on their class list. If your child has food allergies that prohibit them from eating the snack provided, we ask parents to provide and appropriate snack.
  2. Welcoming Children/Youth with Special Needs – A primary goal of our Religious Education program is to welcome every child/youth and family to our church. Our church campus is wheelchair accessible and we work with parents of children with special needs to help their church experience to be positive. The RE staff will work with parents and RE teachers to develop a plan for integrating children and we will enlist additional support staff for children with physical, emotional or learning differences.
  3. Medical alerts – We ask that parents whose children are on specific medications or have special medical conditions alert their child’s teacher t their child’s needs as they see fit. Please provide any information about your child’s medical conditions that you feel is important on registration form and it will be posted on the class list.
  4. Illness – Please do not bring children to church with fever, flu or communicable illness such as chicken pox, conjunctivitis, etc.
  5. Medical Emergencies – In the event of an accidental or medical emergency, teachers will immediately contact the child’s parents and the DRE, and summon medical help if necessary. Parental permission for medical treatment is included in RE program registration.

7. Walking Field Trips

A Walking Field Trip permission form (attachment #4) must be signed for children to participate in walking field trips within ½ mile of the church during their Foothills Unitarian Church Sunday morning class.

8. Pickup and Drop-off

Drop off for church school begins at 10 minutes prior to the service. We ask parents to let their child’s teacher know their child is ready to attend class to shift responsibility for the child to the teacher. Parents are asked to pick up their children up immediately after the church service. Children not picked up within 10 minutes after the service will be taken to the Sanctuary to find their parents or transferred to the supervision of the RE staff. Religious Education registration forms require parents to provide information about their child’s food allergies and other special needs. Parents of visiting children are asked to provide information about allergies and special needs on a visitor card.

9. Movie and Electronic Media Policy

  1. When using movies and electronic media for classrooms and youth groups, the selection of an appropriate movie should be made that is mindful of the age and experience diversity within the classroom/group, and is respectful and inclusive to all. The DRE and parents will be informed of any movies that will be shown in advance of the showing.
  2. For all groups, efforts should be taken to choose movies that do not promote or glamorize disrespectful relationships or behavior; unsafe sex, or casual sex without commitment; senseless, disturbing and /or glamorized violence; or the use of illegal substances or unhealthy lifestyles.
  3. YRUU and OWL will be required to seek permission from the DRE before showing an R-rated movie. Efforts first are made to acquire a suitable movie with a lower rating to ensure inclusion of all youth.
  4. No child or youth will be required to view a chosen film. Parents will be required to sign a permission form for R-rated movies.
  5. RE Staff and adult volunteers must observe appropriate boundaries of behavior, adhering to the Code of Ethics (attachment # 2) when communicating with youth and children via electronic media.

10. Approved Driver Policy

A minimum of two approved adult volunteers (age 21 or older) must chaperone all offsite officially scheduled events. At least one volunteer must be a primary volunteer with the group traveling offsite (i.e. YRUU advisor for YRUU events; RE Teacher for RE events; etc.) Any person planning to drive youth to an offsite event must be an Approved Driver. Approved Drivers are required to:

  1. Complete a Teacher Agreement (attachment #1) and Code of Ethics (attachment #2)
  2. Submit to a background check
  3. Show proof of a valid driver’s license, and proof of current insurance covering injury and loss of life in their vehicle and other involved vehicles should there be an accident.
  4. Have a good driving record

The minimum adult-to-youth ratio for car transportation will be no less than 1:7. If the group size requires only one vehicle, two approved adults must travel in that vehicle. It the trip requires two or more vehicles, only one Approved Driver (serving as the driver) is required in the vehicle, up to a maximum of 7 youth per one adult driver, as long as vehicles have come to an agreement about how to stay in touch. If two or more vehicles are not traveling together in communication, but are instead traveling essentially on their own, two approved adults must travel in each vehicle.

Ten or fifteen passenger vehicles require two approved adults to travel in the vehicle, one of which must be an Approved Driver (serving as the driver). For trips longer than 5 hour or 350 miles away, both adults must be Approved Drivers, so that no single driver will have to drive for too many hours before getting a break.

When youth are carpooling to the event location, transportation will be a personal decision between parents and not subject to FUUC policies.

11. Overnights

When scheduled, overnights will be considered a part of the program and will be planned to promote the mission of the RE group. The primary goal of conducting the overnight must be the emotional safety and well-being of our youth. During an overnight, all RE policies remain in effect.

Overnights may only be held on the premises of the Foothills Unitarian Church and each participant will need a signed Overnight Permission Form (attachment #5) from his/her parent/guardian.

Overnights will occur on evenings that provide sufficient time the next morning for clean-up and wrap-up of activities. Despite the high energy potential of lock-ins, it is recommended that overnights have lights-out by midnight, to ensure adequate sleep.

The following rules are publicized and followed:

  1. Overnights will be chaperoned by

Sexualized behavior of any kind is not permitted at the FUUC sanctioned event.

  1. Possession or use of Drugs and alcohol are prohibited.
  2. All forms of violence, physical, verbal, sexual, or otherwise will not tolerated during any Foothills Unitarian Church sanctioned event. Weapons are not permitted.
  3. Separate housing arrangements shall be provided for males and females under the age of eighteen or for others, including gender non-conforming youth upon request, at all Foothills Unitarian Church sponsored or financed youth events. Under no circumstances should a planned overnight be announced on the Foothills website or advertised to the general public.

12. Field Trips

Parents must sign Field Trip permission form (attachment #6) when children are leaving the church premises for a church sponsored activity. The destination and expected time of return will be posted in the church school office. Leaders will carry the names and emergency contacts with them at all times. There will be minimum of two adults accompanying children and all drivers must be insured and have a copy of the driver’s license and insurance on file in the RE office. Children 4 and under must be restrained in appropriate child safety seats, and all passengers must wear a seatbelt.

Updated on September 15, 2018

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