The purpose of this operational plan is to ensure that we as a church actively work to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 by fully complying with the following public health measures:
- Screening and monitoring against transmission of COVID-19 (i.e. preventing persons exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or who have traveled outside of the Atlantic Provinces Travel Bubble (NB,NS,PEI, and NL) in the last 14 days from entering the church building);
- Facilitating effective physical distancing of parish staff, volunteers, members, and guests of the parish;
- Facilitating effective hand and respiratory hygiene including the wearing of community face masks;
- Ensuring adequate cleaning and disinfection of the church premises; and
- Ensuring proper use and reasonable provision of personal protective equipment.
Screening and Monitoring:
Passive screening questionnaires and COVID-19 awareness posters (see posters at the end of this plan) are to be posted at the entrances to the foyer, office, worship area and church hall.
Parish staff, volunteers, parishioners and guests will not be permitted to enter the church premises if they are displaying any of the following symptoms until they are fully recovered:
fever/feverish, cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, a new cough or worsening chronic cough, new onset of fatigue, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell; in children, purple markings on the fingers and toes.
Parish staff, volunteers, parishioners and guests who answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following screening questions will not be permitted to enter the church premises until such time as they have self-isolated for 14 days:
a. Have you had close contact within the last 14 days with a confirmed case of COVID-19?
b. Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?
c. Have you returned from travel outside of the Atlantic Provinces Travel Bubble (NB,NS,PEI, and NL) within the last 14 days?
d. Have you been told by public health that you may have been exposed to COVID-19?
Those planning to attend worship services or other gatherings in the building (such as committee meetings, parish leadership meetings or staff meetings) will be required to register with the parish office for any gatherings they plan to attend. Their name, contact information, and the specific gathering for which they have registered and whether or not they ultimately attended said gathering will be recorded by the parish office and held confidentially for a period of 28 days to facilitated contact tracing should the need arise. They will also be asked to respond to each of the above screening questions before entering the gathering.
Immediately before each worship service the worship leader will take his or her temperature and document it. If the worship leader’s temperature is above 38°C he or she will be required to leave the premises. They will not be permitted to lead the service and a decision will have to be made by the parish corporation either to make alternative arrangements or to postpone that and any other services the worship leader was scheduled to lead.
Existing staff and volunteer schedules will be used to monitor who has entered the church premises from day-to-day and a sign-in log will be kept at the office for volunteers to record any additional visits to the premises.
If a parish staff member, volunteer, parishioner, or guest tests positive for COVID-19 and is known to have been in the church premises, all services, weekday office hours and other scheduled gatherings in the premises will be postponed until the building has been adequately cleaned and disinfected (see section on Cleaning and Disinfection below) and until such time as we can be reasonably confident that it is safe to re-enter the building.
As soon as the parish corporation is informed that someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 was in the building, the corporation will immediately ensure that New Brunswick Public Health authorities have been informed of the circumstances of possible exposure to other staff, volunteers, parishioners, or guests and will fully cooperate with public health authorities to facilitate contact tracing.
Parish staff with a pre-existing health condition that could make contracting COVID-19 more dangerous will be accommodated with either additional protections or additional measures to ensure employee health.
Parishioners with pre-existing health conditions that could make contracting COVID-19 more dangerous are advised to remain at home and to participate in the community virtually. If that is not possible, those parishioners should take additional protective measures to protect their health.
Weekday Office Hours
To facilitate effective physical distancing during weekday office hours, parish staff, volunteers, members, and guests will be directed to limit the number of people in the parish office to just two people at a time and to maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between one another as they are talking or working together.
Worship Services / Parish Meetings
To facilitate effective physical distancing during gatherings in the church building, seating in the primary gathering space has been arranged to allow for a minimum distance of 6 feet between people from different households and/or “bubbles of family and friends”. Rows of seats are at least 6 feet apart, and those entering the gathering space will be directed to keep at least 2 empty seats (equaling 6 feet) between them and the next closest person sitting in the same row who is from a different household or “bubble”.
Markings on the floor indicate to those entering the gathering space the safe minimum distance of 6 feet. Those entering the main gathering space will be asked to remain in their seats until the end of the gathering, baring any emergencies that would make it necessary for them to leave their seats beforehand. At the end of the gathering, those sitting in the back row closest to the main exit will be asked to leave first, followed by the back row located on the opposite side of the building. Attendees sitting in the remaining rows will be asked to exit in sequence starting from the next row closest to the main exit. Please refer to figures 1 and 2 below for further reference.
fig. 1 – Seating Arrangement
fig. 2 – Movement Out of Gathering Space
Effective Hand and Respiratory Hygiene:
Hand and Respiratory Hygiene Awareness
The most up-to-date signage from the Government of New Brunswick regarding proper hand and respiratory hygiene will be posted throughout the church premises. Posters depicting proper hand washing will also be posted in all bathrooms as well as the kitchen and by the sacristy sink.
Hand sanitizer and facial tissue will be well stocked and placed throughout the facility with special focus near the entrance/exit to the building, office, main gathering space and parish hall.
Adequate supplies of the following items will be kept in store at the church building:
liquid soap, paper towel, toilet paper, garbage bags, facial tissue, minimum 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, household bleach, spray bottles, Health Canada approved disinfectant wipes.
Quantities of cleaning supplies will be monitored by the church cleaner who will inform the office when supplies need to be replenished well in advance of their running out. Supplies of sanitizer will be monitored by parish office staff.
Handling of Money
Parishioners will be strongly encouraged to use electronic donation options such as E-Offering, Interac e-Transfer, and by giving through CanadaHelps.org. An offering box will be placed on a table at the back of the main gathering space where those who need to make their offerings by cash or cheque can do so on their way in to worship.
Counters will ideally be two people from the same household or family group. If not available, then counters will be required to wear community masks while counting.
When there are two services in a morning, the offering from first service will be held in the sacristy until after the second service.
Counting will be completed after the second service in the front office.
Counters will wash their hands with soap and warm water and/or sanitize their hands prior to beginning the count. They will then complete the following”
- Set up calculator and pens and wipe with sanitizing wipe prior to use.
- Count Open offering and record on Count sheet.
- Open envelopes and verify amount inside with the amount written on the outside of envelope.
- Place envelopes in order of amounts.
- One person will call out the amounts while second person records amount on calculator.
- Verify the calculator tape with the envelopes as a second check.
- Record amount on count sheet.
- Complete again for Sunday school or special offering and record on count sheet.
- Place each type of offering in zip lock bag and wipe each bag with sanitizing wipe. Place the bags and count sheet into large zip lock bag, seal and wipe. Sanitize hands after counting. Wipe calculator and put away. Wipe surface of desk and all other high-touch surfaces (door knobs, light switches, armrests etc.) before leaving room.
- Place bag with offering in the filing cabinet in the office in locked money box, and lock filing cabinet.
In accordance with guidance from the Province of New Brunswick regarding the use of community face masks:
- Community face masks must be worn in indoor spaces even when physical distancing of two metres can be maintained.
- During worship, the officiant, a person reading scripture and leading prayers, or a choir member leading singing are not required to wear a face mask but must maintain a physical distance of two metres from other people. All other participants must wear a face mask except when receiving Holy Communion.
- During screening the parish may refuse entry to anyone who will not wear a face mask, however, the province has provided examples of valid reasons for not wearing a mask, including: Children under the age of two; people with a medical condition or a mental health disorder that prevents them from wearing a mask; situations that include a person who is deaf or hard of hearing who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expressions to communicate; a performer or officiant who is performing activities that require vocalization (like talking or singing) at a faith gathering, wedding, funeral, social event, or arts and culture event.
- The parish cannot request proof that someone is exempt for medical reasons.
- A face shield, gaiter, scarf, or bandanna cannot be used in place of a community face mask.
- The parish recognizes that the Province may impose fines if the parish overtly allows people to disregard this policy.
- The provincial government has defined that an acceptable face mask is a non-medical mask composed of disposable paper or cloth. Disposable masks should be put in the garbage when soiled. Cloth masks should have two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric such as cotton. Home-made masks should be made following Canada Public Health instructions.
Singing softly during worship by those wearing a mask will be allowed. Those who cannot wear a mask for the reasons provided above, should not sing if not physically distant from others. Singing may be encouraged at gatherings that take place outside in the open air where physical distancing is maintained.
Cleaning and Disinfection of Church Premises:
After being in the church premises, parish staff and volunteers will use Health Canada approved disinfectants (such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, or household bleach solution of 1000ppm, or 1tsp of bleach to 1cup of water) to disinfect all high-touch surfaces of every room they entered while in the church. These include all doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, table tops, desk tops, hand rails, armrests, and washroom fixtures.
Worship Services / Meetings
Following each gathering in the church building for worship services or other meetings, designated staff and/or volunteers will use Health Canada approved disinfectants (such as Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, or household bleach solution of 1000ppm, or 1tsp to 1cup of water) to disinfect all high-touch surfaces throughout the building, including all doorknobs, light switches, key boards, table tops, desk tops, hand rails, armrests, and washroom fixtures.
The parish cleaner will thoroughly clean the building’s interior before and after each gathering that takes place inside the church building. Those gathering for meetings or services will be strongly encouraged to avoid having to use the washrooms in the church while they are there.
Personal Protective Equipment:
As mentioned above, anyone entering the church premises for the purpose of a church gathering or even a small meeting must wear a face covering or “community mask” unless there is a valid reason for not wearing a face mask as defined above. Rubber gloves will be provided to staff and volunteers for the purpose of cleaning and disinfecting the church interior.
The two most important public health considerations in celebrating Holy Communion at this time is to ensure effective physical distancing during the administration of the bread and wine and to ensure that there is no handling of the bread and wine that might cause infection.
The bread and wine will be prepared in advance of the service for which they are to be used by the same person who will lead the Communion service (the Celebrant). The Celebrant will only prepare the bread and wine after they have thoroughly washed and sanitize his or her hands and have put on a face covering or community mask. The bread and wine will each be placed in a clean covered vessel and will remain covered throughout the service and will only be uncovered momentarily in the process of administering the bread and wine.
The Celebrant will thoroughly sanitize his or her hands and put on a community mask or face covering before approaching the bread and wine to begin the Communion prayers. The vessels containing the bread and wine will remain covered during the prayers. The Celebrant will continue to wear his or her mask throughout the process of consecrating and administering the bread and wine.
The congregation will be informed that the bread and wine of Communion will be administered at the end of the service from the back of the worship space as the congregation is making their way out of the space. Those who do not wish to receive the bread and wine of Communion will be asked to leave the worship space by walking along the south side of the room (or the right side when facing the front). Those who do wish to receive the bread or the bread and wine of Communion will be asked to approach the Celebrant, starting from the back rows and moving up along the north side of the worship space, being sure to observe effective physical distancing.
When the Celebrant is in position at the back of the worship space, he or she will place the bread and wine, still covered, on a table behind him or her. Congregation members will then approach the Celebrant and indicate whether they wish to receive just the bread of Communion or the bread and wine. The Celebrate will then reach behind him or herself to momentarily uncover and retrieve the bread or retrieve and dip the bread into the wine to administer to the congregation member standing in front of the Celebrant.
The wine will only be administered by the Celebrant dipping the bread into the wine and then placing the bread into the hand of a congregation member, being careful not to touch any congregation members. If the Celebrant does inadvertently touch a congregation member while administering Communion, he or she will immediately sanitize their hands before administering Communion to the next congregation member.
Communicants should wear their face mask when receiving Holy Communion and only remove or partially remove it after they have moved away from the officiant and can maintain physical distance requirements in order to consume.
Gathering with Children:
Facilitating physical distancing and effective hand and respiratory hygiene among children presents unique challenges. Close supervision and vigilance from caregivers are essential. To meet these unique challenges while serving the spiritual needs of the children of our parish, the received practice of offering children-focused programing alongside our regular weekly worship service will be replaced with regular gatherings that are specifically focused on helping families worship with their children.
Seating will be rearranged to better support supervision of children by their families in a way that facilitates effective physical distancing and active participation in worship.
The programing offered at these gatherings will be designed to focus on serving the unique needs of children in worship while complying with the public health measures discussed above.
Reviewing and Revising the Operational Plan:
The parish corporation will conduct an initial review of the operational plan after each of the first two weeks of its initial implementation and will make revisions as required. Additional reviews well then be carried out monthly and revisions made to the plan as needed.