COVID-19 Response Task Force
June 12, 2020
Making Plans: What if Someone Gets Sick?

While your session’s careful, informed planning before reopening the building is intended to prevent COVID transmission, knowing what to do if that does happen is essential to minimizing further spread, and is another way of caring for each other and our neighbor.

The Task Force urges all sessions to include in your plans the steps you’ll take if someone who has been in your building or on your grounds becomes sick, either testing positive, or coming down with COVID symptoms. This would include outside groups who use your property. Your plan will need to clearly address:

  • Who will make the immediate contact to local health officials necessary to receive guidance specific to your situation? (IL local health departments)
  • Who and how will you contact your staff, volunteers, members and/or the point person for the outside groups, and how you will advise them? NOTE: It is necessary that you have an accurate attendance record (possibly even a seating chart) for gatherings so you know who has been exposed.
  • Who will determine if you will contact your insurance carrier?
  • Who will handle any inquiries if contacted by local media?”
  • What is your decision-making and communication process should you need to close the building again?
  • Who should those who have been in the building or on your property call if they get sick or find they have been exposed to the virus, and when they should do that?
  • How will you disinfect your building/property and who will do that? (CDC guidance)
  • How will you ensure confidentiality throughout all of these plans?
  • How will you tend to the feelings of guilt, grief, anger, and fear that may arise? Clearly these needs will be heightened should someone in your congregation or community die from the virus after having attended a function on your property. The pastor and those in decision-making capacities will be particularly vulnerable to guilt, and possibly the subject of anger by those who disagreed with the decision to open the building.

Knowing how to respond is essential to minimizing further spread and in caring for each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
PC(USA) Stated Clerk says don’t rush to get back into a
church building for worship
J. Herbert Nelson, II, urges caution as the COVID-19 pandemic continues

Don’t rush to re-open your church sanctuary for face-to-face gatherings. That’s the word from the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in this recently released video. As local, state, and federal governments continue their work to re-open businesses and allow for houses of worship to hold services once again, Nelson believes caution is still the best action to take.
Consider a Survey

While your session or task force is researching protocols and discussing various options and ideas for reopening your building, we suggest surveying the congregation to gauge their comfort level. Many people have successfully used the free versions of available survey software to fashion a simple poll. It can easily provide a snapshot of what people are thinking and feeling and may inform your decisions. To reach those members without internet or email, you might enlist people to administer the survey with a friendly phone conversation or by mail.

A quick internet search (try “return to church survey”) will provide examples of questions and responses. For example:

1. When the church can gather in a group of 50 or less, how quickly do you think you will be ready to come back to worship and events? (choose one)
o I will be there as soon as the church is open.
o I will be there, but only if masks and other plans are in place to help keep people safer.
o I will be there, but only if I am not required to wear a face covering, I find it too uncomfortable.
o I am not sure that I will feel safe gathering right away, I think I will wait a while before coming back.
o I am not feeling safe in that large of a crowd, but I would be interested in joining with a smaller group of people.
o I am not feeling safe, I will choose to continue to worship at home.
o I am not sure. It will depend on the safeguards and plans the church has devised.
o Other ______________________________________________________

2. Which service (if multiple available) are you more likely to attend (include the option to continue to worship from home)?

3. (For families with children) Upon returning to in-person worship, I would like for my children to:
o Be able to attend their regular classroom experience
o Return to Sunday School, but with smaller class sizes (and similar precautions)
o Stay with me during worship for the foreseeable future
o Other ______________________________________________________

We are here for you!

Pastors - We want to reiterate that the Presbytery is here to support you in whatever way you may need. Whether you feel overwhelmed or just feel at a loss of how to move forward, please reach out to Nancy and/or Eric (for polity issues). And please consider joining next week's Pastors Care & Share gathering (Wednesdays at 2 pm, Thursdays at 9 am).
GENERAL RESOURCES
NOTE: Co-Moderator Rev. Cindy Kohlmann is planning a complete online service for Sunday, July 5 - including communion. As soon as the link is available we will share. All are welcome to use this worship service!

John Dillon, a member of the Iona Community offers "We Will Meet" ( words)( music), a new song composed by John Bell to anyone for use in their worship. It was written in response to the pandemic and used in a recent Iona zoom worship service ( new)


Blackhawk Presbytery COVID-19 page - information from past COVID updates is added regularly

Please email the Presbytery office with your questions, concerns or suggestions. We are working from home and not monitoring the office phone.