GUIDELINES DURING COVID-19

Nothing is more important to us than protecting everyone connected to Big Brothers Big Sisters--our staff and our Bigs and Littles and their families. During this difficult time, we ask that all of you follow the guidance below from the New Mexico Department of Health and the CDC to help keep everyone safe.

 

PRACTICAL GUIDELINES

Our office staff continues to work remotely, with our office open by appointment only. For any in-person meetings at our office, we ask that our visitors follow recommendations from the New Mexico Department of Health and the CDC outlined in the attached guide.

As we navigate these difficult times, we are inspired by all that you are doing to stay connected to your Match. Click below to see our guidance for in-person visits, but please understand that the decision for getting together in person rests entirely on the comfort level of the Big, the Little, and the Little’s family. While we are just as ready as you are to get back to normal life, the health of our Bigs, our Littles, and their families is of utmost importance.

GUIDANCE FOR OFFICE VISITS

  • Wash your hands upon entering the building. and wash your hands frequently throughout the day.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Maintain a six-foot distance from others
  • Limit the use of common areas.
  • Wear face coverings at all times when in the presence of others.
  • Employees and visitors experiencing the COVID-19 symptoms listed below will not be allowed to enter the office.
        • Fever
        • Sore throat
        • Chills
        • Cough
        • Headache
        • Muscle Pain
        • Repeated shaking with chills
        • Shortness of breath
        • Loss of taste or smell

GUIDANCE FOR MATCHES

If all parties agree they are comfortable, in-person meetings can continue provided they follow the recommended guidelines listed below.

Please note that BBBSMR is not requiring matches to meet in person and we completely support a decision to continue connecting virtually for the time being. If you do not feel comfortable meeting in-person, we request that this is clearly communicated to all match parties. This in no way will impact the status of your Match—we just ask you to stay consistent with your virtual meetings to stay connected.

Before you consider meeting in person, we recommend the following:

  • Check in with your Big/Little/Little’s Family to ensure all parties approve of the meeting.  If anyone is uncomfortable with in-person activities, we ask that you continue with virtual hang-outs instead of in-person.
  • If any member of the Match (or family members of Bigs/Littles) is at heightened risk from the coronavirus, we ask that you do not meet in person at this time and continue with virtual meetings instead.
  • Heightened risk factors include advanced age, high blood pressure, chronic respiratory illness, diabetes, obesity, and compromised immune systems. The CDC has further guidance at cdc.gov.
  • If any party is ill or lives in a home where a relative or roommate has been ill, we require that you wait for at least two weeks before considering an in-person outing.
  • If any party has traveled outside of New Mexico in the last fourteen days, we ask that you wait for at least two weeks before considering an in-person outing.

If all parties determine an in-person meeting is acceptable, please follow these guidelines:

  • Initiate a conversation with your Big/Little/Little’s Family to discuss specific restrictions. We ask that you be respectful of each party’s boundaries. Your Match Support Specialist can help with these conversations if needed.
  • Take your temperature prior to the outing to ensure you are not running a fever of 100.4 or higher.
  • Follow New Mexico Department of Health (NMDH) social distancing guidelines, which include:
    • Only get together when you are healthy.
    • Wear a Mask or face covering (except when eating and exercising).
    • Maintain at least six feet distance from each other and others.
    • Wash hands, clean surfaces, cough in elbow or tissue.
  • As a result of the NMDH and CDC recommendations to maintain social distancing of at least six feet, we encourage you to meet at or near your Littles’ home OR, to travel separately and plan to meet at a public place, like a park or hiking trail when possible as it is hard to maintain that distance in the same vehicle.

When planning an in-person meeting, please consider the following:

  • We encourage Bigs and Littles to wear a mask when doing in-person meetings.
  • Consider uncrowded outdoor activities.
  • Avoid large crowds —see your county’s recommendations on crowd size.
  • Avoid all physical contact; please do not shake hands, high five, or hug.
  • Wash your hands and bring hand sanitizer with you.
  • Use the restroom prior to your meeting, and if possible, avoid public restrooms.
  • Stay local and keep outings to a reasonable length. We recommend one to two hours.

What helped to inform our decision:

Over the summer, we’ve been getting feedback from our Bigs, Littles, and families to help inform our decisions:

  • 89% of parents and 69% of Bigs rate the Big/Little relationship as good, great, or amazing since COVID-19 restrictions began.
  • 89% of parents  and 92% of Bigs say they’ve been able to cope with this situation in a positive way.
  • On average, our parents are “comfortable” and Bigs are “slightly comfortable” with in-person match outings.

COVID-19 UPDATES

Just as most social interactions have changed due to Covid-19, so has the mentoring of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Instead of meeting in person, we are encouraging Bigs (adult mentors) and Littles (youth mentees) to commit to communicating and “hanging out” in ways that promote the safety of our Littles, Bigs, and their families.

So what does this look like?
While our Matches (Big and Little) can meet for socially distanced friendly interactions–such as outdoor activities that maintain social distancing–we encourage virtual hangouts such as playing games, cooking, reading, telling jokes, etc. via FaceTime, Zoom, or other platforms. Matches might meet strictly on a virtual basis or a mixture of virtual and in-person meetings depending on everyone’s comfort level and governmental mandates.