Updates from the FPC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force

If you have questions or comments, please direct them to the RETF chair, Lucy Kernodle at lkernodle@bellsouth.net

Update from the COVID-19 Re-entry Task Force, September 24, 2021

First Presbyterian Church – Burlington: COVID-19 Policies

Since March of 2020, the First Presbyterian Church (FPC) COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force (RETF) has met many times to review and consider what steps we can take to care for one another while the virus continues to circulate in our community.

FPC policies have changed and will continue to change with our pandemic experience. We have progressed from a complete shut-down of in-person activities on our church campus to one of cautious and intentional reopening, capitalizing upon approaches we know to reduce the risk of viral transmission combined with incorporating routine monitoring of the local situation.

In the US, NC and Alamance County, we are experiencing the surge of the Delta Variant of the Coronavirus that causes COVID-19. While community transmission in Alamance County remains at substantial or high levels and the percentage of positive tests remains well above 5%, the policies outlined below will likely remain in effect. The FPC-RETF routinely reviews these metrics and will make changes as it seems reasonable to do so.

For the foreseeable future:

  1. Prior to participating in FPC activities, we continue to ask participants to evaluate their own recent history of possible COVID-19 exposure as well as their personal/household risk for adverse outcomes from contracting COVID-19 (e.g., their age, underlying health conditions, presence of an immunocompromised or non-vaccinated person in their household, etc.).

You may use these three questions as a guide. Answering in the affirmative to any of them (without a recent (post-exposure) negative COVID-19 test) means you should not participate in an FPC event in-person: 

      • Have you or anyone with whom you live experienced any of the following symptoms within the past 48 hours: fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea?
      • Within the past 14 days, have you been in close physical contact (6 feet or closer for at least 15 minutes) with a person who is known to have laboratory confirmed COVID-19 (a positive COVID-19 test) or with anyone who has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and you do not have a recent (post-exposure) negative COVID-19 test result?*
      • Are you or anyone with whom you live, work or have had close physical contact (6 feet or closer for at least 15 minutes) currently awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test administered because of a potential exposure?

*Note regarding exposure: People who are fully vaccinated should test 3-5 days after exposure and continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. (Definition of fully vaccinated — 2 full weeks after second doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)

2) All unvaccinated and vaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask in any building on the church campus at any time. FPC activities occurring indoors and off-campus are also governed by this mask guidance.

3) Worship Guidelines:

    • Please enter the sanctuary through the center aisle only.
    • Please select a seat in the pews marked by the green crosses; please sit in family groups toward the ends of the pews. Seating is also available in the balcony.
    • Please do not sit in a pew that does not have a green cross on the end.
    • Please sign in using the pew register and pass it down so that everyone seated on the pew signs in. Please tear the completed sheet off and leave it on top of the register for easy collection after the service.
    • Please exit from the side aisles after the service has ended. Please do not exit through the center aisle.
    • Please do not congregate inside the sanctuary or narthex. Please go all the way outside to spend time visiting with others.

4) For committee meetings, small group sessions, youth group, etc. meeting in-person, we will continue to use a sign-in sheet (click here) for the purposes of capturing contact information so we may share information appropriately in the event of an exposure to COVID-19. Completed sign-in sheets should be returned to the church office. When possible, for these gatherings, using a virtual or outdoor option to meet is encouraged.

5) Participant limits are as follows:

Calvin Hall – 75 people are allowed to gather for various events.

Witherspoon Room and John Knox – 30 people are allowed to gather for various events.

All Other Classrooms – 15 people are allowed to gather for classes, meetings, etc.

6) Funerals and Weddings – there are no limits or restrictions on seating in the sanctuary.

7) Food Service – food service will be permitted in Calvin Hall, the Witherspoon Room, and John Knox Room as long as the food is either prepackaged or in boxed meals. Access to the kitchen remains limited to accommodate food safety preparation requirements for the Child Development Center.

8) Communion will be practiced by intinction with only the pastors (who have used sanitizer for 20 seconds) dropping a wafer into the hand to those who come forward. The cup will not be served to the congregation.

9) The offering plates will not be passed but instead, offered at the end of pews by ushers.

10) Hand sanitizer and restroom access remain available to address the need for hand sanitation.

11) Pastoral Care — As with attending FPC events in-person, we ask both the person visiting and the person requesting the visit to evaluate their own risk and immediate exposure and vaccination history when making decisions to request or fulfill a pastoral care visit. This may be done utilizing the same questions and recommendations noted above in number 1. Regardless of COVID-19 disease status or exposure, virtual visits can still be scheduled and are heartily encouraged.

12) In the Event of a COVID-19 Exposure at FPC — Please contact the Church Office as soon as possible to consult with church leadership including representatives of the Re-Entry Task Force re: exposure circumstances and risk mitigation procedures. Risk mitigation procedures can include restricting access to the FPC Campus Facilities, deep cleaning physical spaces as needed and prohibition of people who are exposed or actively ill from participation in FPC events until recovered from any illness and/or released from isolation/quarantine.

FPC will also establish contact with the Alamance County Health Department (336-227-0101) for situation specific recommendations with regard to exposure risk assessment. This will include ascertaining whom should be tested along with sharing recommendations, given test results. Please be sure to notify everyone at risk of exposure using the event participant list or other resources affording complete ascertainment of all at risk. Share with them plans for risk mitigation at FPC as well as guidelines for how they should react/behave personally for the foreseeable risk interval (usually 10 to 14 days). Undertake any sanitizing, deep cleaning activities recommended by the health department or the RETF.

Identities of individuals involved in any exposure situation will remain confidential. FPC Staff, Re-Entry Task Force members and any others who may have knowledge of event circumstances are to protect identities of people involved in an exposure event while at the same time ensuring that clear information is communicated to those exposed about what their next steps should be.

Lastly, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you or your family members are hesitant to do so, we encourage seeking the advice of physicians or other health care providers about what is prudent. These vaccines are highly effective, the risks of side effects from the vaccines are low, and opportunities to be vaccinated are readily available in our community.

 

Name of Activity/Event: ________________________________________________________________

 

Date, Time, and Location of Activity:_____________________________________________________

 

***Before signing in, please read the following questions:***

Q1:  Have you or anyone with whom you live experienced any of the following symptoms within the past 48 hours: fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea?

Q2:  Within the past 14 days, have you been in close physical contact (6 feet or closer for at least 15 minutes) with anyone who is known to have laboratory confirmed COVID-19 (a positive COVID-19 test) or with anyone who has any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and you do not have a recent (post-exposure) negative COVID-19 test result?* 

Q3:  Are you or anyone with whom you live work or have had close physical contact (6 feet or closer for at least 15 minutes) currently awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test administered because of a potential exposure?

*Note regarding exposure: People who are fully vaccinated should test 3-5 days after exposure and continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings for 14 days or until they receive a negative test result. (Definition of fully vaccinated — 2 full weeks after second doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)

 

By recording your name and contact information, you are attesting that you can answer NO to all of these three questions. If you cannot do so, please do not participate in person at this event.

 

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