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, July 15, 2021

The Delta variant of COVID-19 is on the rise in North Carolina and to help mitigate its spread we ask that everyone please read and follow the worship service protocol noted below.

  • 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 Lemonade on the Lawn to spend time visiting with others.

The Delta variant is highly transmissible and those who are not vaccinated are at greatest risk for significant health outcomes from infection. So, we strongly encourage anyone who is not yet fully vaccinated or who feels more comfortable wearing a mask, to continue to do so.

In addition to reminding you of these public health measures, we urge you to get vaccinated if you have not done so and encourage you to talk with your family physician if you have concerns.

Thank you.

 

Update from the COVID-19 Re-entry Task Force, June 18, 2021

Thank you for joining with us in embracing the better angels of our nature and extending grace upon grace to our Christian community as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope you will continue to join in from a position of covenant, attending to promises and commitments between members of a community to care for one another.

For our part in this covenant, the COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force continues to meet regularly to prayerfully evaluate our public health policies in the context of the effects of the virus on our community. Our efforts continue to be deliberate and intentional as we navigate a pathway to fuller communion.

After careful consideration, we are modifying our policy regarding the use of masks during worship services in the sanctuary at First Presbyterian Church, Burlington. Beginning with the 10:00 a.m. service on Sunday, June 27, 2021, the use of masks will be at the discretion of persons who are fully-vaccinated.* For those who are not fully vaccinated, the use of masks continues to be required.

(*Definition of fully vaccinated — two full weeks after second doses of Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines or after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson vaccine.)

We ask that you continue to maintain physical distancing when attending services by sitting on either end of a row marked with a green cross.

The order and length of service will remain as it has been since May 30, 2021. There will be singing and responsive reading but no physical sharing of the peace or offering collection.

Further, the following remain in effect for the foreseeable future:

Prior to participating in church 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.).

We ask worship participants to complete the pew register in lieu of signing in prior to entry to the sanctuary as this will provide the means through which we may contact people in the event of a COVID-19 exposure. For committee meetings, etc. we will continue to use a sign-in sheet for the purposes of capturing contact information.

Except for worship services as noted above, we will continue to require mask wearing at indoor activities held at the church over the course of the summer, taking into account the evolving burden of COVID-19 on the community. We will review this again in July and August.

We will continue to provide hand sanitizer and restroom access to address the need for hand sanitation.

As we have noted in our communication with you before, the risk of significant morbidity or death from COVID-19 infection now shifts to the unvaccinated. Principally, these are children younger than 12 years of age or people who are medically ineligible for vaccination. A third at-risk group are those who have been vaccinated but for whom the vaccines are less effective due to immune system suppression (specifically, those who may be on chemotherapy or on immunotherapy such as organ transplant recipients). As you make decisions about using or not using masks, we ask consideration and care for those next to you who may be at elevated risk.

By invoking a covenant of care for one another, we are placing trust in one another to act in our own best interest in concert with that of our Christian community and to extend grace to those at greater risk by considering more than personal comfort when joining together.

Lastly, we continue to strongly encourage everyone to get 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.

May God grant you guidance and peace in this continued time of uncertainty.

FPC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force

Chair: Lucy Kernodle

Members: Gene Grimley, Beth Hooten, Wendy Lunsford, Allison McHugh, Kris Moffitt, Bruce Shields

Ex-Officio Members: Taylor Barner, Patrick Murphy, Charlotte Nance-Allbright, Ron Shive

 

Update from the FPC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force, May 21, 2021

To the Session and Congregation of First Presbyterian Church-Burlington:

Thank you for sharing your concerns about masks and vaccinations with the COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force (RETF). It is always beneficial to garner multiple perspectives. And we also appreciate the expressions of gratitude extended to the RETF over the preceding year.

We have traveled quite an interesting road since first we met as task force on June 3rd, 2020.

Today, we have both good and not-so good news to share.

Like the US as a whole, North Carolina has come a great distance in a few months.

We have three highly effective and low risk vaccines widely available to everyone 12 and older!

Mandates requiring occupancy limits, physical distancing and mask wearing in many situations are lifted.

Fully vaccinated* people are safe without a mask in most situations.

Vaccine rollout is a principal reason we have reached these milestones. The other is the use of public health measures of which the 3 W’s (Wear a Face Covering/Mask, Wait Six Feet Apart, and Wash Hands Often) have been critical to getting to this point.

This is all great and good news for which we should all be thankful.

BUT, we are not beyond the pandemic yet. The Governor’s declared State of Emergency in NC persists. We continue to have disparate levels of cases, hospitalizations, deaths and rates of vaccination among NC’s 100 counties.

In Alamance County, during the week of May 11th-16th, the seven-day average of case transmission was well over 100 or more cases per 100,000 population which is considered evidence of high community viral transmission. The county average was more than a third higher than the state as a whole.

As for vaccinations, NC ranks 34th in the nation in the percent of the total population fully vaccinated at about 37.1%. By comparison, Alamance County ranks 26th among the state’s 100 counties with 34.2% of the total county population fully vaccinated. (Note: percentages reported in the media may be higher depending upon the denominator (e.g., population 12 and above or population 18 and above). Total population figures are presented here as the goal of herd immunity is 70% of the total population vaccinated).

The danger from COVID-19 remains present and very real in much of our state and in our county. And while it is wonderful to find a returning path to in-person, indoor worship and church activity, all of our opening up could have to be walked back should case numbers rise precipitously.

So we are still in the woods…What is the path forward?

First, let us embrace the better angels of our nature and extend grace upon grace to our Christian community (composed of both vaccinated and unvaccinated people). We should proceed from a position of a covenant — the idea of promises and commitments between members of a community. This is the actionable essence of loving God and caring for our neighbors.

We know the 3 W’s work in mitigating risk of viral transmission. And in general, it makes sense to continue to embrace the strategies we know have worked to date in keeping people safe while the pandemic persists and we have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people in our community.

Realistically, the risk of significant morbidity or death from COVID-19 infection now shifts to the unvaccinated — some of whom fall into this category through no action of their own making — principally, these are children younger than 12 years of age or people who are medically ineligible for vaccination. A third at-risk group are those who have been vaccinated but for whom the vaccines are less effective due to immune system suppression (specifically, those who may be on chemotherapy or on immunotherapy such as organ transplant recipients). As an inclusive and gracious community of faith, one of our immediate concerns should be for these three groups.

Moreover, data remains inconclusive on whether or not the fully vaccinated may transmit the virus in the context of asymptomatic infection, putting those who are unvaccinated at risk. Further, while rare, there are breakthrough cases of COVID-19 among the fully vaccinated. So while having completed a vaccine series confers tremendous protection against severe and fatal illness, it does not eliminate all risk for the vaccinated.

Thus we should maintain masking requirements for indoor church activities as a part of a covenant amongst members and as an embodiment of neighborly love. Wearing a mask extends grace to those who remain unvaccinated. It also avoids the risk of judgmental or discriminatory behavior. And for families who have young children who may not yet be eligible for vaccination, it is an act of solidarity in keeping the youngest of our community safe and well. It is the welcoming and right thing to do. Further, wearing masks will afford a return to singing by containing a substantial portion of the droplets and aerosolized particles exhaled.

Physical distancing still has merits as well. Evidence continues to suggest that air movement (turnover), management of the length of time in an indoor setting (particularly with large numbers of people of mixed vaccination status) combined with limiting the number of people in a space are critical factors in preventing viral spread. Physical distance (whether 6 feet or 3 feet) still helps to keep larger respiratory particles at bay (as well as eliminates or limits the physical touching possibility of particle transfer).

As a corollary to physical distancing, reducing the time of indoor exposure (shortening services and meetings) as well as increasing the interval between group reading/singing components of services may allow air handling systems a chance to filter out some circulating aerosolized particles.

And finally, making certain people have access to hand sanitizer or restrooms for hand cleansing makes good sense whether you are concerned about COVID-19 or the common cold.

Some Contextual Observations:

Compared to how we have been, living in a state in which many decisions were directed by government mandate and made by the few to keep the many safe, we are now at a point where the locus of control decidedly rests more with local communities than with an external collective making the recommendations for the state as a whole. We can use this local focus to guide risk management and forge a path forward.

In parallel, individual risk assessment plays a greater role in how people navigate the pandemic with the removal of mandates. Everyone of us has been making and will continue to make calculated decisions about what event/activities to attend, where to go (what places are safe) and what risks we can tolerate. This calculus is the way through our current reality. We, as the RETF, are encouraging everyone to take more responsibility for managing our own risks and their mitigation and in so doing, reflect upon our own capacity for neighborly love by respecting the policies recommended below.

Plans for the summer:

We are to begin our 10:00 a.m. in-person, indoor worship service on May 30, 2021. Coincident with this move to a single service for the summer months, the FPC recommends the following (the specific overarching policy statements are attached at the end of this letter):

1) Strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. If people are hesitant to do so, encourage them to seek the advice of physicians or other health care providers about what is prudent. The 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.

2) Continue to require mask wearing at all indoor church activities over the course of the summer, taking into account the evolving burden of COVID-19 on the community. Review monthly (end of June, July and August).

3) Continue to maintain physical distancing indoors at six feet; consider reducing it to three feet if needed to accommodate worship participation demand. Review monthly (end of June, July and August)

4) Staff should continue to wear masks when visiting healthcare facilities or any location where masks are continued to be required as well as when visiting homes where the vaccination status of the household may be unknown.

5) Prior to participating in church activities, 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.).

6) Continue to provide hand sanitizer and restroom access to address the need for hand sanitation.

7) Strongly encourage worship participants to complete the pew register in lieu of signing in prior to entering the sanctuary as this will provide the means through which we may contact people in the event of a COVID-19 exposure. For committee meetings, etc. we will continue to use a sign-in sheet for the purposes of capturing contact information.

Parting Observations:

The RETF has prayerfully and deliberately reviewed, as we have previously said we would in our letter to you in August 2020, state and county data detailing morbidity and mortality burdens. As vaccines began to become available, we carefully followed the phases of availability and made certain our staff sought vaccinations as soon as they were eligible. Now we are including vaccination rates as a part of the data we review in considering policy change.

We have also reviewed and continue to consult guideline documents from the Centers for Disease Control as well as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

None of what we are recommending today is contradictory advice for those who are unvaccinated or for whom the vaccines have reduced efficacy. In fact, our policies mitigate risk for those now most likely to have severe illness or be at risk of death from a COVID-19 infection.

Prior to the availability of vaccines, we all faced the risk of a very severe and possibly extended course upon infection with COVID-19. The advent of vaccines has dramatically changed that for those who are vaccinated but the risk for severe outcomes persist and they can have a collective impact. From the interest of the community-at-large, it makes sense to do what we may to protect at-risk individuals from disease and our community from the impact of persistent and prevalent infection which takes people away from work, from school and from their families, where their energies and contributions help support, perhaps indirectly, the well-being of the community-at-large.

We have chosen to operate from a position of equity and care, rather than implement policies that segregate by vaccination status as this is the charitable, gracious and covenantal response.

Our choices are not blue and they are not red. They originate from position of care and concern for all.

And at some point, our faith and its accompanying generosity has to enter into the picture.

By invoking a covenant of care for one another, we are placing trust in one another to act in our own best interest in concert with that of our Christian community and to extend grace to those at greater risk by considering more than personal comfort when joining together.

As we move forward, this continues to be an opportunity to extend grace and love.

May God grant you guidance and peace in this continued time of uncertainty.

Your fully vaccinated* RETF,

Chair: Lucy Kernodle

Members: Gene Grimley, Beth Hooten, Wendy Lunsford, Allison McHugh, Kris

Moffitt, Bruce Shields

Ex-Officio Members: Taylor Barner, Patrick Murphy, Charlotte Nance-Allbright,

Ron Shive

*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.

Policy Regarding the 3 W’s or COVID-19 Covenant – Part A:

POLICY: Participants at events held at First Presbyterian Church, Burlington are to adhere to the three W’s — wear a face covering, wait (maintain) a six-foot (could modify to three-foot) physical distance, and wash hands often (use sanitizer) for any indoor event. For outdoor events, masks are not required unless in crowded quarters.

Policy Regarding Vaccination and Self-Appraisal of Risk or COVID-19 Covenant – Part B:

POLICY: The Session and Staff of First Presbyterian Church, Burlington strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19. If you are hesitant to do so, please seek the advice of your physician about whether or not you should be vaccinated. The 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.

As a community of faith, our immediate concern is for those who cannot be vaccinated due to health issues or those under 12 years of age for whom vaccination is not currently an option. In consideration of them, masks are still required for all indoor gatherings at the church.

In addition, we ask each person to evaluate both their recent history of possible COVID-19 exposure (by reviewing the three questions — see below) 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.). Please take these considerations into account before events and decide accordingly as to what is in your own best interest as well as that of the community at large.

Question 1:

Have you or anyone with whom you live experienced any of the following symptoms with 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?

Question 2:

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?

Question 3:

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?

IF YOU ANSWER IN THE AFFIRMATIVE TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS, YOU SHOULD PARTICIPATE THROUGH VIRTUAL MEANS (e.g., attend via ZOOM or a similar platform or watch livestream services).


Update from the FPC COVID-19 Re-entry Task Force, March 11, 2021

Many thanks to each of you who participated in our survey (sent on 2/25/21). We closed response capturing on 3/7/21 and have summarized the results. You may find a copy of the survey questions here and a summary of the question responses here.

There were 128 unique responses representing about a quarter of our households. Most represented adults only households and were over the age of 50. And a majority reported being in the process or having completed vaccinations. Many reported a desire to return to in-person worship with outdoor options favored over indoor — although it is clear that people wish to return to indoor settings when safe. Continuing the use of virtual events as we move to opening up also was endorsed. The summary questions about safety measures for both outdoor and indoor events support the need for careful planning to ensure implementation of adequate spacing and other risk mitigation methods.

In the text question — what else would you want the RETF to know — many of you shared your specific interest in and ideas about a return to in-person worship (particularly outdoor events), you endorsed the use of masks in any events we hold, you supported the need to ensure our staff received vaccinations prior to a return to in-person worship, and you shared your gratitude for the work of the RETF.

We thank you for sharing your perspectives. We are already using the results as we plan for events in the coming weeks. Please continue to share your ideas and concerns with us as we move forward.

Faithfully,

The FPC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force

Chair: Lucy Kernodle (lkernodle@bellsouth.net)

Members: Gene Grimley, Beth Hooten, Wendy Lunsford, Allison McHugh, Kris Moffitt, Bruce Shields

Ex-Officio Members: Taylor Barner, Patrick Murphy, Charlotte Nance-Allbright, Ron Shive

 

Update from the FPC COVID-19 Re-entry Task Force, February 4, 2021

Nearly 11 months ago, the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic and Governor Cooper issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency in North Carolina, followed shortly with additional Executive Orders prohibiting mass gatherings and closing public schools. We have passed through an initial Stay-at-Home order onto some gradual reopening of the state and back into a modified Stay-at-Home order which has been extended through the end of February.

Over this interval, we have all adjusted to wearing masks, remaining physically distant when meeting people and washing our hands. We have also begrudgingly accepted significant modification and restriction to the habitual events of our lives. Nothing about our lives remains untouched by the influence of the pandemic. At times, it feels interminable and devoid of hope.

However, as we write this update, NC’s new case incidence, hospitalizations and daily mortality numbers while still of very significant concern, are the lowest they have been since early December and may be on a sustained decline. Moreover, two vaccines are now being distributed and a third is likely to be approved for emergency use any day now. So there is reason for hope that things can continue to improve.

The FPC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force (FPC RETF) continues to:

  • monitor dashboards of county, state and national data to evaluate measures of community burden and risk associated with COVID-19 spread;
  • monitor and consume governmental policy and advisory documents from federal, state and local agencies, informed by the context of our own situation;
  • monitor and consume guidance produced by national and mid-level church organizations along with re-entry plans developed by specific churches (most of which are here in North Carolina).

We have added monitoring the advent/approval of vaccines and vaccine distribution plans in North Carolina as well.

As a result of these continued efforts, FPC RETF can share (and reshare, in the case of the last item):

  • The Salem Presbytery COVID-19 Response Task Force met on January 21 to update its November guidance that church buildings remain closed through February 1. Given the state of viral burden in North Carolina, the Salem Presbytery COVID-19 Response Task Force continues to recommend church facilities in Salem Presbytery remain closed to in-person inside gathering until at least May 1, 2021. The FPC RETF concurs with this recommendation and FPC will continue to hold worship virtually through this interval and limit in-person activities in the church to 50 people outside and 10 people (15 in Calvin Hall) inside per our earlier guidance from the fall. You may access the Salem Presbytery guidance directly at https://www.salempresbytery.org.
  • Limiting in-person gathering, particularly inside, does not mean we cannot continue to plan and hold activities outside. Our youth and children’s activities will continue to be outside (or held virtually to accommodate weather conditions). As the weather warms, we hope to have more opportunities to see our church family on the FPC Campus outdoors.
  • FPC RETF will continue to review plans for a return to in-person inside gathering so that when conditions allow, we will have plans in place that will mitigate risk of viral spread.
  • On Friday, January 22, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, in concert with the North Carolina Council of Churches, offered a webinar entitled, “The COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy and the Church.” This webinar included a 30 minute presentation on the status of both the virus and vaccines in North Carolina. The shared presentation can be accessed here (https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/COVID19-Vaccine-101-Deck-Final.pdf). It provides information on the development of the vaccines including a review of safety information.
  • Lucy Kernodle and Beth Hooten participated in the webinar and learned the following:
    • Given where we are with COVID-19 cases in North Carolina (99 counties are in the red or orange classifications on the state’s county alert system), NC DHHS strongly recommends that faith organizations continue to gather virtually. If gathering in person, NC DHHS strongly recommends that people avoid singing to reduce risk of aerosolized viral particle spread. If and when we decide to reopen, it is recommended that FPC RETF follow as many of the guidelines in NC DHHS Guidance for Places of Worship as possible (https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/guidance/NCDHHS-Interim-Guidance-for-Places-of-Worship.pdf). These included symptom/exposure monitoring, universal use of masks, physical distancing and hand washing.
    • North Carolina is currently vaccinating Group 1 (health care workers or long-term care staff/residents) and Group 2 (adults 65 years old and older). Many of FPC’s members may fall within one of these two groups and the FPC RETF encourages you to get vaccinated as it will help us as a community to eventually return to in-person inside activities.
    • The next group to be vaccinated will be frontline essential workers, which includes people who must be in-person at their place of work AND work in one of the 8 essential sectors recommended by CDC. One of these sectors is Government and Community Services, which includes clergy and essential support for houses of worship. More details can be found in the NC DHHS Deeper Dive Group 3 (https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/vaccines/Deeper-Dive-Group-3.pdf). This means our clergy and church staff will be able to be vaccinated in the next group. FPC RETF will work with our staff to facilitate this process as having our staff vaccinated will also move us closer to being able to return to in-person indoor activities.
    • Churches have critical roles to play in helping to address the pandemic. These include providing reliable information to members, helping people who need assistance in navigating the process to obtain the vaccine and as the distribution process expands, potentially serving as a vaccination location (perhaps in partnership with neighboring congregations). The FPC RETF is considering ways in which we may be able to serve as a vaccination location as availability improves in the coming months. Additionally, we encourage our members to connect with the RETF with questions and concerns. We are here to be a resource to you as we navigate the pandemic.
  • NC DHHS now has several resources (in addition to the links above) with information on vaccinations. The main page (https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines) contains two links. One which will help you figure out which group you fall into for vaccination and the second will help find locations near your home where you may access vaccine administration when it is your turn. FPC RETF recommends and encourages us all to get our shot when it is our turn.
  • Getting vaccinated significantly reduces your risk of a serious or fatal disease experience with COVID-19. What we do not know is how it affects the transmissibility of the viral particles should you have a mild or asymptomatic infection. So we remind you of the following:
    • Evidence continues to mount that the virus that causes COVID-19 is predominantly spread via aerosolized particles. Wearing a mask over the nose and mouth reduces the likelihood that anything one exhales reaches another person. We should all wear masks to protect others and expect them to do the same to protect us. FPC RETF recommends and encourages you to wear masks when around people with whom you do not live or with anyone who may have exposure to situations in which viral spread may occur.
    • Separating by at least 6 feet when we are in a store, a line, etc. also helps minimize viral spread.
    • So does limiting the amount of time you spend in indoor situations in the company of people with whom you do not live. This means carefully considering risks associated with indoor events like eating at restaurant or gathering with friends. Outdoor options when available are better alternatives for mitigating the risk of viral infection.
    • And washing your hands can help prevent the transfer of virus particles from surfaces to your face.

We mourn the toll of illness in our world and community. We grieve the loss of those who have died. And we hold the grieving near in care and prayer.

Even in the face of loss, there is hope yet to be found. What we have given up by not congregating has not been for naught. It has kept ourselves and others safe and well.

Vaccines will become more and more available. We just must find our patience (think on Job) and when it is our turn, get in the queue.

The way through this pandemic is together and as spring arrives and the weather warms, it will be easier to gather outdoors (masked and physically distant). Eventually, we will be in communion with one another in person.

We pray for continued reduction in disease burden in our community, improved vaccine availability and widespread adoption of immunization and lastly, for population (herd) immunity – estimated for COVID-19 to be 70-90% of the population possessing immunity to the virus.

Until that day, do all you may to remain safe and protect those around you.

Faithfully,

The FPC COVID-19 Re-Entry Task Force

Chair: Lucy Kernodle (lkernodle@bellsouth.net)

Members: Gene Grimley, Beth Hooten, Wendy Lunsford, Allison McHugh, Kris Moffitt, Amy Richardson, Bruce Shields

Ex-Officio Members: Taylor Barner, Patrick Murphy, Charlotte Nance-Allbright, Ron Shive

 

First Presbyterian Congregational and Campus Use Activities: General Policies (REVISED 24 August 2020)

Additional resources:

Alamance County Specific Data Dashboards:

https://apps.alamance-nc.com/COVID

https://covidactnow.org/us/north_carolina-nc/county/alamance_county?s=1273304

North Carolina Data Dashboards:

https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard

https://covidactnow.org/us/north_carolina-nc?s=1273304

https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/outbreaks-and-clusters — of particular note, weekly report on clusters by source (first link on the page)

Guidelines for Places of Worship:

https://files.nc.gov/covid/documents/guidance/NCDHHS-Interim-Guidance-for-Places-of-Worship.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/faith-based.html

 

FPC Guidelines Shared

With our church family, our response must be one of caution and as such, we have developed guidelines, in effect for the foreseeable future, to help mitigate risk of disease transmission. We will continue to review the current situation and provide regular updates to the FPC Session and by extension, the FPC Congregation.

At the August Session meeting, the RETF shared two documents: 1) General Guidelines for FPC Activities and 2) Pastoral Care Guidelines. These documents are intended to foster understanding of the guidelines and processes we have developed for small group activities as well as supporting our pastoral staff in providing care to the congregation. Copies of these two documents are linked below.

These two documents helped to inform work to develop specific and consistent guidelines for other activities on the FPC Campus including the Furniture Ministry, use of the Garrison Joyner Building, Funerals and Weddings, and staff and parent policies for both CDC and Playschool. Copies of these additional documents are also available at the link referenced above.

These documents are not static as our policies will likely change as the pandemic experience in North Carolina changes. We may adjust guidelines to be more or less restrictive depending upon morbidity and mortality burdens experienced locally and in North Carolina as a whole. FPC policies are based upon guidance provided the federal Centers for Disease Control and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and are subject to any mandate issued by the North Carolina Governor.

FPC Guidelines Summarized

Generally – one is safer at home, particularly if you fall within the identified higher risk groups (e.g., those 60 years or older, those living with significant health risks, and those living with family members with compromised immunity). Each member of the FPC family is cherished and we encourage each person to evaluate their own risk when making decisions to join in collective activities.

We strongly recommend that all events/activities/gatherings be held using virtual technology, whenever possible, for the foreseeable future. This includes most pastoral care visits.

When the decision is taken to meet at the FPC campus or in person, each person should assess their recent history with regard to COVID-19 exposure including responding to questions about symptoms (new or recent onset of a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or recent loss of taste or smell) and interactions with those who may have been ill. Temperature checking procedures are also a tool we may employ.

People who have been exposed to someone with symptoms of COVID-19 or a confirmed COVID-19 case within the last 14 days will be required to stay at home. Further, to keep our church family safe, people experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 will be required to stay at home. They should remain isolated and may not return to FPC activities for 14 days and they are asymptomatic or have a negative COVID-19 test.

If they cannot be held virtually, we strongly recommend that all events occur outside, without the use of restrooms, to accommodate physical distancing. Attendance at groups meeting outside must not exceed 50 people. If necessary, and with specific approval, only one set of restrooms (e.g., on the black and white hallway) will be made available and these must be cleaned after each event.

In-person, indoor activities are limited to those specifically required for the completion of FPC Session approved mission activities (e.g., Andrews Elementary feeding programs, the FPC Furniture Ministry) and are limited to 10 people (15 in Calvin Hall). All events will occur in Calvin Hall or the Witherspoon Room or in the Furniture Ministry Office. They must be scheduled at a time to avoid any interference with the normal operations of CDC. All precautions should be taken to avoid any exposure of CDC children and staff to event participants.

For these indoor, in-person events, only one set of restrooms (e.g., on the black and white hallway) will be made available and these must be cleaned between events.

Events are restricted to Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

No group will have access to the kitchen facilities within FPC to accommodate food safety preparation requirements for CDC.

For groups assembling at FPC to travel to off-campus activities, transportation arrangements should limit exposure (e.g., no more than two passengers excluding the driver per passenger car).

All events must be submitted through an online portal for approval. Additionally, online resources will afford the ability to record contact information of all event participants so that it is possible to track and trace viral exposure.

All participants should practice the three W’s – Wear a face covering, Wait six feet apart, and Wash hands for 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer!! Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth.

Failure to follow these policies will result in participation prohibition for subsequent FPC activities.

Click the linked documents listed below to view and print.

First Presbyterian Congregational and Campus Use ActivitiesREV10SEP2020

Event Participant GuidelinesREV10SEP2020

Event Participant Form 10SEP2020

First Presbyterian COVID-19 Pandemic Pastoral Care PolicyREV10SEP2020

FPC COVID-19 Exposure Response Confidentiality08SEP2020

COVID-19 Wedding ProceduresREV10SEP2020

RETF Wedding and Funeral PolicyREV10SEP2020

Garrison Joyner Building Protocol for Use REV10SEP2020

Furniture Ministry COVID-19 GuidelinesREV07SEP2020

CDC Parent ProtocolREV30Sep2020

CDC Staff ProtocolREV30Sep2020