Match Outing Guidelines for Fall 2020 as of October 10th, 2020

Dear JBBBS Volunteers and Families,

As we enter the colder months, we are all thinking about how to keep ourselves safe and healthy while avoiding exposure to COVID19 and Influenza. Over the summer JBBBS recommended limiting in-person outings to outside locations only, mask wearing at all times and for matches to avoid driving together.  We recognize that it will be much harder to meet in outside locations as the temperature drops. However, given the rise in COVID19 cases in the state, we sticking with our summer recommendations and continue to recommend that all inperson matches be limited to outside locations onlymask wearing at all times and for matches to avoid driving together. This is simply the safest way for matches who want to meet in person to do so with the least amount of risk.  

As life with COVID moves on, each individual and family is having to make decisions in their day to day life about their own risk tolerance for engaging in certain activities.  Every individual will have their own level of comfort when it comes to COVID exposure.  Respecting each other’s choices is of the utmost importance for JBBBS. 

We acknowledge that some matches might want to plan to drive together to outings or plan an occasional indoor activity. When considering match outings, ensuring that all parties are in agreement about what activities they are willing to do together is key. When Bigs, Littles or Friends have differing levels of comfort regarding COVID, CMSs are here to help you negotiate the conversation.  

It is vital to share all information about match outings with your CMS to ensure that all the possible precautions are being considered. Open and honest communication is always extremely important.  

Please make sure to consider the following points: 

  • Not every Big, family, or F2F participant will be comfortable with in-person outings. We must respect everyone’s choices about COVID19 exposure and explore ways to maintain strong connections even when there are differences of comfort level within a match.  
  • If any party related to the match is at heightened risk from COVID19, you should strongly consider not meeting in person. Heightened risk factors include advanced age, respiratory illness, diabetes and immune system suppression, among many others. The CDC has further guidance at this link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.  
  • If any party is suffering from a current illness or has a current illness in their home, you should wait until no symptoms are present before having an in-person outing (CDC recommendation is 14 days).  
  • It is recommended that both Bigs & Littles /Friends check their temperature prior to each face to face meeting. If either party has a fever of 100.4 degrees (38.0C) or higher the meeting should be rescheduled for a later date. 
  • Home visit policies remain in effect: If you have been matched less than six months you may not hold any visits in a volunteer or child’s home. CMS must give approval before home visits begin for matches of greater than six months in duration. 
  • JBBBS continues to strongly recommend that masks be worn when Bigs and Littles and Friends are together. When eating, we recommend matches sit a minimum of 6’ apart. 

It is expected that all matches will use reasonable safety precautions as recommendeby the CDC and State of Massachusetts: 

  • When social distancing of 6ft cannot be maintained both (the Big and Little)/ (friends) must wear a face covering.  If you choose to meet in an indoor location, wear a mask.  
  • We still encourage Bigs and Littles and Friends to travel separately to outing locations as much as is possible. If traveling together in a car is essential, a mask must be worn by both Big and Little and all Friends and the Little or Friend should sit in the back seat, and that the car windows are open. If matches mutually decide to drive together, the match’s CMS must receive an email from all parties authorizing this decision.  
  • Wash hands and bring along hand sanitizer. 
  • Guardians should communicate any restrictions they require and give specific approval to the outing. 
  • Bigs/friends should be clear on planned activities when communicating with parents/guardians. 
  • Large groups should be avoided until deemed appropriate by the State of Massachusetts.  Uncrowded, outdoor activities are highly encouraged. 
  • Stay local and keep outings to a reasonable length at this time. 
  • If you have any questions or concerns about the level of risk in an activity (“My Little wants to go to an arcade. Is this safe?”) please reach out to your Clinical Match Specialist to think this through together. 

-   Laura Shulman Brochstein, MA, LCSW (Clinical Program Director)