COVID-19 Re-Entry Plan Phase II
PHASE II- RE-ENTRY INTO FACILITIES AND WORSHIP (THINKING FORWARD)
STEP 1. MASKS
- All persons attending in-person worship services must wear a mask throughout the entire service, including clergy and other service participants when not actually engaged in leading the service.
- Congregations should have a supply of masks on hand that can be given away, but it is recommended that people bring their own.
- Please see COVID-19 Resources page for ways to make masks or purchase them.
STEP 2. SOCIAL DISTANCING IN SANCTUARIES, FACILITIES AND WORSHIP SPACES
- Maintain 6 feet of social distancing, not just once people are inside, but from the time they leave their cars, as they enter the worship space, and as they exit the space and return to their vehicles.
- Social distancing requirements dramatically reduce the seating capacity of a congregation’s worship and fellowship spaces (50% of pre-COVID-19 seating). For example, to maintain a six-foot distance between households in the sanctuary, every other pew or row of chairs should be empty.
- Each pew or row should be no more than half-filled.
- Congregations should calculate the seating capacity for social distancing.
- Develop and communicate a plan for social distance seating.
- Ushers and greeters should be trained to maintain social distancing and safe practices in the facilities and designated worship space.
- Families who live in the same household should sit together.
- If multiple services are offered requirements for cleaning before and after each service are operative.
- Follow state guidelines for Healthy at Work for staff working in shared office space. Find these guidelines at www.HealthyAtWork.ky.gov
STEP 3. CONSIDER WORSHIP COMPONENTS CAREFULLY
- Microphones- Members and worship leaders should not pass or share microphones at any time. If possible, consider the use of wind screens, sanitized and replaced after each service.
- Bulletins - It is recommended that bulletins and other non-essential touchable items not be used in Phase II. If bulletins are utilized, they could be placed in the pews for designated seating prior to each service. Members should take the bulletins with them once they are touched.
- Entrances/Exits/Hallways - Decrease the number of individuals touching doors by propping them open or have one person open doors for those entering/exiting. Sanitize all door handles after gatherings.
- Visitors/Hospitality/Greeters - Maintain social distancing practices at all times. No contact greetings (no shaking hands or hugs). Have masks available for visitors if needed. Dismiss in an orderly way to ensure social distancing. No coffee stations or food, snacks or meals at this time. Greeters should inform guests of expectations regarding precautions regarding distancing, hygiene and wearing of masks. Ensure doors are propped open for ventilation and so that doors need not be touched.
- Offering - Online giving should continue and be encouraged for those able to do so. Churches should design a method of receiving an offering with a box, basket or bucket in an established place where people may drop their offering. Individuals who count money should use gloves to count and prepare the deposit.
- Technology - This is an opportunity to leverage technology. Consider providing digital material for services ahead of time or project information in the sanctuary.
- Multiple services - Consider offering multiple services to encourage greater opportunity for social distancing.
Choir/Music Ministry and Congregational Singing - Some of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kentucky
were traced to a choir rehearsal.
- Singing is a very efficient and effective way to spread the novel coronavirus.
- Choirs should not lead gathered worship music until late in Phase III.
- Choirs should not assemble at this time.
- Consider instead using soloists, duets, or small ensembles where a greater than recommended social distance can be practiced.
- If congregational singing takes place, masks are absolutely necessary and should be worn during singing.
- Worship leaders should rethink how to include music with pre-recorded solos and video projection.
- Churches should begin to think into this very carefully; especially, related to special events, Christmas, etc.
Nursery and Child Care/Children’s Ministry
- As long as local and state guidelines do not allow child care centers to open, churches should not provide nursery or child care.
- Children will need to sit with their families during worship.
- A children’s moment may still be a part of worship; however, children should remain seated with their families while someone speaks to them from the front of the worship space. Childcare and children’s ministries may resume in Phase III.
- It is recommended that children under 2 not wear a mask. See for more information: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/Cloth-Face-Coverings-for-Children-During-COVID-19.aspx
Food and Meals
- For the foreseeable future (late in Phase III) and probably until a vaccine is widely available, food, beverages, potlucks and shared dinners/receptions must be avoided.
- Touching serving utensils and movement along a food line is extremely contagious.
- Late in Phase III, a congregation might consider catered, plated dinners with servers. This minimizes proper distancing and contact with surfaces and utensils.
- In addition to the above, seating for a congregational meal will require appropriate social distancing.
Resurgence and Outbreaks
This “new normal” will continue for the foreseeable future until there is a breakthrough regarding a vaccine.
Churches should continue to offer online worship and discipleship, and be prepared for resuming online-only
worship should there be a resurgence of COVID-19 in our state or in your community. A resurgence of COVID-19
or an outbreak in a community or church will mean communities and states may return to Healthy at Home.
Should a COVID-19 case be confirmed in a church setting, local health departments will be notified and contact
tracing and possible quarantine of congregants may occur. Health ministry navigators will be available to assist
local churches as needed.
Guidelines for Drive-In Worship
Churches may consider offering “drive-in worship,” although guidelines must be followed to do so safely.
- Coordinate with your local law enforcement or emergency management agency.
- Utilize volunteers or signage to direct parking.
- Everyone, including volunteers, staff, and clergy, must follow social distancing guidelines at all times.
- Only members of the same household per vehicle.
- No one should leave vehicles for any reason.
- No bathroom facilities.
- No playground.
- Park every other spot
- No one exchanges anything including offering and communion elements.
ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES: ADDED JULY 1, 2020
At this time, our team recommends that pastors not perform baptisms on any person regardless of age. In the event of an emergency or end-of-life pastoral care, baptisms are certainly permitted as a witness of God’s love and grace.It is important to note our United Methodist Theology on baptism. We believe that baptism is an outward and visible sign of the inward grace of God working in a human being. Because the sacrament of baptism makes visible for us the invisible work of God, we do not believe that baptism is a requirement of salvation. Instead, it is a sign and seal that the Church performs to show prevenient grace & the washing away of Sin that God has done through Jesus Christ. Theological conversations with parishioners about baptism of infants or adults will be important during this time to help them understand the nature of salvation as understood by United Methodists. Further, we believe that baptism is a covenant between God and the Church and there necessarily must be a congregation present to covenant with God and those being baptized. For further reading, please see the UMC’s By Water & The Spirit document.
At this time, we are recommending that memorial services and services of death and resurrection be held at the presiding funeral home rather than the local church campus. Funeral homes must comply with guidelines beyond the scope of the KYUMC -Re-Entry Guidelines. (Reference: Requirements for Funeral and Memorial Services.) However, if the family of the deceased prefers a church sanctuary service, in addition to the KYUMC Re-Entry Guidelines, Requirements for Funeral and Memorial Services must be met. It is important to follow all guidelines for wearing masks, social distancing, singing, and other worship guidelines from Phase I and II. Please follow all guidelines for sanitation and social distancing (as noted in Phases I & II) during all funeral services and visitations. Bereavement meals and sharing of any food is not advised.
Formal Ceremonies During Church Services
Formal ceremonies and celebrations, such as graduate celebrations, promotion Sundays, etc., are not recommended at this time. Such ceremonies often require close proximity of participants, their families, the pastor, and other members of the congregation to confer blessing or congratulations/gifts. Such close proximity does not meet the requirements of the guidelines of Phases I and II. We recommend that during this phase of the pandemic, all formal ceremonies and recognitions be conducted virtually.
All weddings held within the building structure of the local church should adhere to the guidelines of Phases I and II. Food and beverages should not be served prior to, during or after the wedding ceremony. Examples include food for the wedding party prior to the wedding, receptions and rehearsal dinners. No wedding receptions or rehearsal dinners should be held on the church premises. Appropriate plans should be in place to socially distance attendees of the wedding within the church sanctuary. Members of the wedding party should also practice 6 feet of social distancing and wear masks. All recommendations of Phases I and Phase II apply to weddings in church facilities. Outdoor settings are preferable to indoor settings at this time.
Celebrations (Baby Showers, Wedding Showers, etc.)
Celebrations on church property are permitted if they follow the worship guidelines established in Phases I and II and meet the approval of the local church re-entry team approval. These include, but are not limited to, guidelines related to room capacity, social distancing, wearing of masks, no serving of food, etc.
Facility Use & Small Groups/Discipleship Groups
Church-affiliated adult small groups on the church campus are permitted if they follow the worship guidelines established in Phases I and II and meet the approval of the local re-entry team. Community groups that utilize the church building, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, feeding ministries, missional outreach teams, etc. may meet on the church property but must comply with the Kentucky Conference guidelines as established in Phases I and II and meet the approval of the church re-entry team. Remember that the guidelines of social distancing have a significant impact on reducing the capacity of a room. All groups need to adequately plan to ensure that each participant has a circle of 6 feet around them for best practice. It may be necessary for small groups to meet in larger rooms than they normally meet in to ensure that they can meet these guidelines.
It is recommended that churches write a letter to any group utilizing the facility to emphasize the COVID guidelines for using the property and the expectation that there would be strict compliance with those guidelines. Additionally, churches should require cleaning of spaces before and after use. Church trustees may want to limit and specify what spaces are available for use. A local church’s liability insurance carrier should also be consulted regarding the sort of coverage that would be extended to the church in the event a group member contracted COVID during their use of the building.
The practice of temperature checks at the entrance to the facility prior to a worship service is recommended by the KAC Re-Entry Team. However, we understand the practice of ministry is contextual, and we recommend that your church’s re-entry team discuss and make a final decision about temperature checks. If temperature checks are to be practiced, utilize non-contact thermometers.
A note about fever: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a fever to be a measured temperature of 100.4° F (38° C) or greater, or feels warm to the touch, or gives a history of feeling feverish. Note: Even though measured temperature is the preferred and most accurate method to determine fever, it is not always possible to take a person’s temperature. In certain situations, other methods of detecting a possible fever should be considered:
- Self-reported history of feeling feverish when a thermometer is not available or the ill person has taken medication that would lower the measured temperature.
- The person feels warm to the touch.
- Appearance of a flushed face, glassy eyes, or chills if it is not feasible to touch the person or if the person does not report feeling feverish.
Reference link: Definitions of Symptoms for Reportable Illnesses | Quarantine
The KAC Re-Entry Team also recommends that churches communicate a health screening to all parishioners who are considering attending worship. The health screening can be emailed or shared on social media ahead of the worship service; this will allow parishioners to determine the condition of their health prior to leaving their home and attending a worship service. Our team also recommends that the health screening questionnaire be posted on the entrance doors of the building in clear, legible print. Please see the health screening document below.
Children and Youth Activities
In-person church activities with children (defined as birth to rising 8th-graders) are not recommended at this time. The re-entry team continues to recommend virtual activities for children until our update on Aug. 1st. It is difficult to ensure adequate and consistent social distancing with children, who might transmit the virus to parents, grandparents, or other vulnerable persons.
Youth (defined as rising high school freshmen and older) are permitted to meet outside for youth group if youth abide by all guidelines from Phases I and II. Larger youth groups should make plans to break into smaller groups of 10 or fewer to enable adult leaders to more effectively monitor and enforce social distancing. Churches should ensure that all Safe Sanctuaries guidelines are enforced during youth group activities.
How Can My Church Help Out?
- Contact your local health department to see if your church can serve as a testing site for COVID-19. You can also sign up your church to be a testing site at: https://govstatus.egov.com/kycovid19
- Ask your local health department how your church can be helpful with community education about the novel SARS-COV-2 virus.
Are you experiencing the following symptoms?
According to the CDC, people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, please contact your health care provider and self-quarantine until you receive further direction by your physician.
Reference link: Symptoms of Coronavirus
The Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, and the Re-Entry Task Force, cannot guarantee the safety of anyone who chooses to attend a worship service or any other church-related activities. Specifically, we cannot prevent you or your congregation from being exposed to, contracting COVID-19, or potentially spreading the virus. It is not possible for the Conference or the local church to totally guard against the spread of the virus. While the Conference requires that local churches follow all relevant governmental guidance, and encourages them to follow the protocols produced by the Re-entry Task Force, we cannot guarantee the safety of anyone in our facilities. If you choose to hold a church service or other church-endorsed activity, or to attend one of these activities, you are assuming the risk that you may expose yourself and your children to COVID-19, and that you may contract the disease. By holding these services/activities or attending these services/activities, you are accepting the risk of being exposed to, contracting, or potentially spreading COVID-19. You specifically, are waiving and releasing any potential cause of action related to your or your congregation's potential exposure, contraction or spreading of COVID-19. Local churches and individual congregants should not feel pressured to attend or participate in any in-person church activities as a test of their faith.
The Kentucky Annual Conference and the Re-Entry Task Force are following current federal and state guidelines in our response to COVID-19. Because these guidelines change due to the fluidity of the pandemic, please consult local, state, and federal government authorities.
The tabs below will lead you to further explanation of the three Phases of the Re-Entry Plan.
Contact the members of the Re-Entry Task Force at email@example.com