Small Group Contact Protocol & Tracing

Stage 1

1. The staff will distribute both written and video explanations of our plans and expectations for participants of small groups in the weeks leading up to the reopening. This will include A) a statement that parishioners who have traveled out of state, currently have or recently had a fever or cough, and those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, should not attend small groups; B) encouraging persons in the vulnerable category of 65 and older or those who live with persons who fit into that category to remain home and take advantage of online small group experiences; C) a description of the protocols that are required for participation (masks, physically distanced, hand sanitizer, etc.); and D) instructions on how same-household family members can maintain appropriate social distance from others while at church (no physical embrace or shaking hands, etc.).  

2. We will focus on creating safe small group gathering spaces.

3. We will continue to offer and encourage participation in online groups to maintain ministry to the most vulnerable population and provide ongoing opportunity for those who still feel uncomfortable with in-person gatherings.

4. All small groups and Sunday School classes must contact the church office to schedule a day, time, and room. In-person small group meetings will be restricted to 15 people or less. Reservations must include the maximum number of people who might attend so that rooms with adequate space to maintain social distance requirements can be reserved and setup.

5. Small groups and Sunday school classes cannot meet on Sunday mornings during stage 1.

6. In order to limit the amount of sterilization necessary in the building, only rooms on the second floor, accessible through the Welcome Center, will be available for meetings. The exception to this rule is that the youth may gather during the week for Learning Pods in the Loft. The staff, with the help of our congregation’s medical personnel will determine the number of people who will be allowed in each space on the second floor. A sign will be posted in each room indicating how many may sagely gather. The first floor will be closed and only available to staff. If there is desire to meet with a staff member, a scheduled appointment is requested.  

7. All small group members will enter through the Welcome Center, where masks, hand sanitizer, and signage with instructions are available.  

8. Signage at the entrances will make clear that all participants during stage 1 will be required to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart from non-family members. Each small group will be required to register their attendance on a form provided by the Church to use in case contact tracing is required. Each completed form will be filed in the church office, in order to facilitate contact tracing through local health officials, if necessary.

9. Enough masks will be available for distribution that in case someone forgets to bring one, there will be an adequate supply. 20-30 new masks will be added for distribution in subsequent weeks.

10. No food or drinks will be allowed in small groups.

11. No nursery will be offered for small groups.

12. One trained greeter or staff member will be present outside the entrance to answer questions for those arriving, while maintaining a safe social distance.

13. A designated health manager or staff member will greet small group participants as they arrive and begin to offer “kind but firm” encouragement regarding safety practices. These health managers and staff members will have the authority to request that non-compliant people leave the building. Small groups which have non-compliant people will not be allowed to reserve rooms for the remainder of stage 1.

14. Rooms must be sanitized after each small group meets, prior to the next small group.


Pastoral Care Protocol

15. During stage 1, baptisms, in-person pastoral care, in-person community assistance, and funerals may be conducted at the pastoral staff’s discretion utilizing the general social distancing and precautionary measures outlined in our protocol. Receiving lines are prohibited. “No touch” alternatives will be clearly explained and utilized.


Other Ministry Protocols

16. There will be no organized sports, camps, or other activities in stage 1. Vacation Bible School will be delayed until restrictions are lifted or delayed for a year if necessary.

17. Playgrounds and other outside spaces are closed to children and youth during this time. The First Steps Child Development Center is an exception to this rule.

18. Our Youth ministry is allowed to meet utilizing the above protocol. However, the youth ministry is encouraged to also continue using technology to connect with our youth in online gatherings in stage 1.

19. Mission trips which involve travel are prohibited in stage 1.

20. Fundraising involving food preparation or distribution is prohibited.