Standards for Indoor Services at Hope Church to Address COVID-19
As of September 15, 2020
These standards are subject to change whenever conditions in the state of Massachusetts change or when the governor’s guidelines change.
Attendance and Social Distancing
Anyone who is feeling sick, has any of the symptoms of Covid-19, or has been exposed to someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 should not attend services. Anyone who is particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 or lives with someone else who is, is also encouraged to stay home and join by live-stream. Anyone who is unable to wear a mask for medical reasons should consider staying home and joining by live-stream.
Every third row of pews is available for seating to help ensure social distancing. All others will be blocked off with ribbon. Attendees may sit at either end of the available pews. Attendees who are part of the same immediate household may sit together at one end. If there are more than 2 members of the same immediate household sitting together no one else may occupy the same pew. The last two usable rows will also be blocked off with ribbons and will be opened up by the Covid Coordinator for visitors (or late-comers if nothing else is available). An elevated stand for the camera will be placed in the back of the sanctuary allowing the whole sanctuary to be used for seating. An overflow area with distanced seating will be prepared in the basement to accommodate people in excess of available seating in the sanctuary.
Attendees will enter the church either individually or together with their household. If someone is at the door, please wait until they have entered the sanctuary before entering. The Covid Coordinator will
Confirm that doors and windows are open
Make sure that masks and hand sanitizer are available
Greet people as they enter and be available to help people be seated appropriately, answer any questions about procedures, or help in any other way,
Count and record people as they enter to help with seating and the potential need for contact tracing. Confirm that we have contact information for all attendees.
Inform unmasked attendees of the requirement and offer a mask
Remind anyone who is violating the 6-foot distancing rule of the requirement
At the end of the service, the Covid Coordinator will dismiss people row by row starting from the back. Attendees will exit through the center aisle starting from the rear of the church and exiting through the double doors. Use of the center aisle will avoid passing in front of the tech team or worship team. Those wishing to stay and chat may either go out and chat on the lawn or remain seated in the sanctuary until everyone else has exited. In either case they should maintain a 6 foot distance.
All other meetings (Bible Time, mid-week connect groups, business meetings, etc.) will be conducted via Zoom.
All attendees and staff must wear face coverings or masks in accordance with Massachusetts COVID-19 Order No. 31 and the Department of Public Health’s Guidance while inside and while entering and exiting, except where a person is unable to wear a face covering or mask because of a medical or disabling condition.
For children between age 2 and 5, the wearing of a face covering or mask is at the discretion of the child’s parent or guardian.
Children under the age of 2 should not wear a face covering or mask.
Hope Church will offer a disposable face mask to anyone who does not have their own. Hope Church will refuse entry to a person who declines to wear a face covering or mask for non-medical reasons.
The pastor or other person delivering the message may remove his or her face covering while conducting the service or making an address, provided that he or she is able to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other persons present. Tape will be placed on the floor to indicate the area that the pastor may use without impinging on the space of the worship team.
All other speakers will use the microphone at the center of the church and remain masked. The microphone will be placed at least 4 feet in front of the stage to maintain adequate distance between the pastor and others.
Worship music is a particular concern because singing (like talking) is one of the drivers of the spread of the Novel Corona Virus. Since singing is no worse than talking, the congregation will be able to freely participate in singing as long as they remain masked. Instrumentalists will also be required to maintain a 6 foot distance between each other while leading worship and entering and exiting the stage area. Given the limited space, the worship team will be limited to 4 people in total.
On any given Sunday one of the following protocols will be used for vocalists.
All vocalists (subject to the limit of 4 total on the worship team) will also remain masked.
A single vocalist can sing unmasked subject to the same rules as the pastor. But vocalist and pastor will never be unmasked at the same time, and will never share the same space. The vocalist will at all times be at least 6 feet away from instrumentalists, pastor, and congregation.
During each service, the pastor will remind attendees of the requirement to wear a mask, maintain 6 foot social distancing, stay home if symptomatic or at high risk, and cooperate with the Covid Coordinator.
Appropriate alcohol-based sanitizers are available in the foyer. Attendees are encouraged to use the hand sanitizer prior to entering the sanctuary. Attendees may also use the restrooms (one person at a time) to wash hands with soap and water.
Windows and doors will be opened to promote airflow. If we are unable to leave windows and doors open, services will be conducted by live-stream only. Meeting in a building without adequate ventilation is not recommended.
Bibles, hymnals, and Kleenex will be removed from the pews to minimize touching of shared materials. Reading materials and hand-outs will be removed from the foyer to discourage congregating and touching of shared materials.
Financial contributions will either be mailed, dropped off through the church office mail slot, sent via PayPal, or placed in the collection box in the foyer while entering or exiting the building. Contributions in the box will be counted and documented by two people wearing masks and protective gloves.
Pre-packaged communion cup and cracker sets will be set out in the foyer, and those who wish to partake will take one as they enter the building. Gluten-free packages will also be prepared by a gloved and masked elder or other person.
No food, other than communion, will be available at any indoor church activities.
Childcare is unavailable. However, a parent may request permission of the Covid Coordinator to use the nursery privately. A small number of toys will be available for use. The Covid Coordinator will inform the custodian who will clean the nursery before the next service.
Response to potential outbreaks
If Hope Church learns that an attendee or worker has tested positive for COVID-19, the Covid Coordinator will notify the Sharon town Board of Health and assist as reasonably requested to advise likely contacts to isolate and self-quarantine.
The Covid Coordinator, with the help of the pastor, will create a list of attendees at each service to assist in identifying likely contacts.
The Covid Coordinator will also take a picture of the sanctuary showing each attendee to aid in determining who might have been in proximity with whom.
The lists and photos will be shared weekly with the elders so they can easily be retrieved for tracking and tracing purposes.
If an attendee or worker has tested positive for COVID-19, Hope Church will conduct a deep cleaning and disinfecting consistent with the Centers for Disease Control guidance.
If anyone becomes ill while in the Hope Church building, he or she will be moved to an isolated room in the basement until he or she can be transported home or to a hospital.
Cleaning and disinfecting
The church will be cleaned and disinfected between each service, including disinfection of heavy transit areas and high-touch surfaces (e.g., doorknobs, bathrooms, microphones, tables, counters, light switches, pews, and, in the balcony, the computer, computer table, and audio system.) There will be a checklist, which the custodian will use to document each item or area that was cleaned. The checklist will be posted in a public area.
While the church is not in regular use, the cleaning will be performed after any use before the next scheduled event. Anyone who uses the church or enters it for any reason other than the regular service will be expected to notify the trustees including what rooms they were in and what they touched.
Anyone using the building for any other reason than the worship service will be subject to these same rules and protocols. Outside groups will provide professional cleaning services after each use.
The following documents will be posted in the foyer:
Covid standards for hope church.doc (This document)
Minimum safety standards for attendance
Hope Church Cleaning Checklist
CDC prevention-H (how to prevent spread of Covid)
CDC Handwashing-poster-adults (posted in restrooms and kitchen)
We Wear Masks 8.5 x 11.pdf
Restroom max occupancy.doc (posted on restroom doors)
Nursery max occupancy.doc (posted on nursery door)