March 2021 Update
As vaccination efforts continue to move forward, we are seeing good progress with the decline of rates of infection throughout much of Kentucky. There continue to be several counties that remain in a high incidence rate while others have shown decline. As the Church begins to prepare for Easter celebrations, the KAC Re-Entry Team offers the following guidance:
The current CDC guidelines state that persons who have been fully vaccinated do not have to be tested if they are exposed to a known COVID case. The CDC defines a person as fully vaccinated two weeks after their second shot of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines or two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If vaccinated persons begin to develop symptoms, it is important for those persons to get tested to ensure that spread of the disease is managed. Even if you are vaccinated, please continue to follow all CDC guidelines for mask wearing, social distancing, and sanitation. If you have not had your second shot or if it has not been two weeks after your final dose, please continue to take preventative measures.
Children & Youth Ministry: If your county remains “red” or returns to a “red” incident rate in the future, it is important to adjust ministry plans and revert to Phase II guidelines. As children begin returning to school, churches may also begin considering how to safely increase children and youth ministries throughout the spring and the summer. The conference summer camps will be open and having camps as well. In any children’s ministry or youth ministry context, it is important that all guidelines are followed for the safety of all children and volunteers. Volunteers in children and youth ministries are recommended to be vaccinated if possible. Vaccination for volunteers is especially encouraged for persons sixty years of age or older as well as any persons with underlying health conditions. Deans and counselors at camps are also encouraged to get the vaccine as a religious worker if possible. However, vaccinations for children & youth ministries, as well as deans and camp counselors is not a requirement.
For worship and discipleship, please continue to utilize face masks, sanitation, and utilize social distance practices, even if the majority of your congregation has been vaccinated. Remember that it is important for your church to practice hospitality and your church may have guests on Sunday mornings that have not been vaccinated. We want to keep our guests safe, even if our congregations are vaccinated fully.
As you consider Easter worship plans, discuss these plans with your local church’s re-entry team. If you feel that your county is declining in incidence rates, your church can consider moving into Phase III guidelines. For Easter services, consider having multiple smaller-attendance services and if weather permits, keep windows and doors in the sanctuary open to provide ventilation. You may also consider holding Easter services outside on the church campus or on an alternative site. If your church re-entry team thinks that the church is ready to move into Phase III, please follow the guidelines in Phase III for meal preparation, service, and dining.
Unfortunately, singing remains one of the highest risk activities for aerosolized spread of Covid. Please continue to use current guidelines for music in your indoor worship services. Focus on special music, recorded music, or instrumental music. Avoid loud congregational singing or choral singing in an indoor setting. For outdoor settings, singing and choral music with masks and social distancing may be explored.
Your church can host up to 60% of your attendance capacity as long as your church can maintain six feet of social distance between families at 60% capacity.
We are recommending that churches continue to suspend bussing services for the time being. If your church must use bussing for children or youth events, it is important for the driver and chaperones be vaccinated if at all possible. Riders should wear masks and be separated by six feet of social distancing. If it is possible, open bus windows to increase ventilation and reduce time in the bus to fifteen minutes or less.
If your church re-entry team believes that it is safe to move into Phase III, you may begin welcoming community groups back into your buildings or renting out your facilities. Please follow all Phase III guidelines and remind all groups using church facilities that they must abide by the local church’s guidelines established by the church re-entry team.
At this time, clergy are considered to be in Phase 1C of Kentucky’s vaccination protocol. You can find our more information about vaccines, as well as sign up for a vaccination, at https://govstatus.egov.com/ky-covid-vaccine
Finally, your church may want to consider offering your campus as a vaccination site. Coordinating with local health leaders can help increase vaccination rates in your county and speed the recovery effort. Churches can help persons without computers to sign up for their vaccinations. Vaccinated persons can help drive homebound persons to vaccination sites. Finally, vaccinated pastors are encouraged to share their positive experience about becoming vaccinated.