Communication from your COVID-19 Task Force
As we approach the August 23 reopen date for St. James in-person church services, your COVID-19 Task Force would like to communicate what precautions will be taken to keep you safe, as well as to let you know what to expect.
First and foremost, our top priority is your safety. People that are in a vulnerable health category should consider not attending in-person worship, and at a minimum, are encouraged to consult with their physician prior to returning to church. Services will continue to be broadcast live on-line and will be available for those who are still not comfortable being around other people. There is no rush and no pressure to attend in-person services. We realize that this is a tough decision for many of our congregation, and it is absolutely okay to wait until later to come back to church.
Our plans to regather for in-person worship will be dependent on no second wave or local outbreak. If a new stay at home order is issued or if the Bishop deems it necessary, we will immediately suspend in-person gatherings.
The COVID-19 Task Force has put together the following guidance to explain the precautions being taken and the procedures that have been put in place to keep you safe. We must maintain compliance at all times to make sure we are creating a safe space and not putting others in danger.
Prior to Entering Church
** Face coverings are mandatory. No one will be allowed entrance without a face covering. **
Upon arrival, Parishioners will be greeted by Vestry members outside the front door of the church. Maintain social distancing if there is a line to enter. You may not enter the church until you have been cleared by the greeters. Please do not arrive more than 15 minutes before the scheduled service time.
Vestry greeters will confirm that all who enter are wearing a mask or other appropriate face covering. Extra masks will be available for those who do not have access to masks of their own. No one will be permitted to enter the church without wearing a face covering. The only exception is children under the age of 2.
Each attendee will be asked if they are experiencing fever, coughing, or other COVID related symptoms, as well as if they have knowledge of being exposed in the last 14 days to anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Anyone experiencing symptoms or who has been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter church.
If you are feeling sick, please stay at home.
Greeters will ask for your contact information for contact tracing purposes. In the event we are informed that someone who attended our worship tests positive for Covid-19, we will then communicate to everyone who attended that worship service.
Vestry greeters will squirt hand sanitizer into each Parishioners hands before entering or touching any church property. This will be a requirement for entering the church.
There will be one service only at 9:30 AM. All attendees will be asked to enter through the front door only. Parishioners will be greeted by the ushers and given a single use Sunday bulletin.
Our capacity with the required social distancing will be a total of 16 spaces that can be occupied by an individual or by persons living in the same household. We therefore estimate that about 30 persons will be able to attend worship. Once capacity is reached, a sign will be placed at the cross walk stating that capacity has been reached and no one else can enter. Ushers will be stationed outside and will not let anyone else enter. If more than our capacity wishes to worship in-person on Sunday morning, we will institute an every other Sunday system.
In order to maintain social distancing, some pews will be roped off to mark that they are unavailable for use. Ushers will direct everyone to where they can sit. Pew choices will not be permitted at this time. You must sit where the usher tells you to. Please let the ushers know if you are unable to sit upstairs for health reasons.
Collection plates will not be passed around during the Offertory. Instead, a plate will be available for collection as people enter the church. Parishioners are encouraged to donate electronically whenever possible.
Communion will be offered each Sunday using consecrated wafers only.
Altar Guild members will sanitize their hands immediately before placing the wafers in a ciborium (glass container) which will then be closed until time for consecration. As the priest prepares the Altar for Communion, they will sanitize their hands immediately before removing wafers from the ciborium. The priest will distribute with no contact directly after hand sanitizing again. In the event of contact during distribution, the priest will hand sanitize immediately.
We will not use the Altar rail to distribute Communion. We will mark six foot spacing and parishioners will receive Communion at the front of the church. Masks should be worn at all times inside the church. Please wear your mask or face covering during the receiving of Communion. Communion should only be consumed after you have returned to your pew.
No Sacristy Access
The Sacristy will be off limits to everyone accept for clergy and lay readers to reduce opportunity for contamination. Therefore, no one will be allowed entry through the back doors. The bathroom will be off limits.
Please use the restroom before you get to church.
Choir and Acolytes
Choir and acolyting have been suspended until further notice.
Music will be provided by the organist and one to two cantors. All singing must be done with a face covering in place.
Childcare Not Available
The nursery will not open at this time. Per State guidance, children should remain in the care of those in their household unit and not interact with children of other parties at any time.
Exiting the Church
Place the single use Sunday bulletin and any personal trash in the box at the exit marked ‘Biohazard’ for recycling at a later date. Respect social distancing when exiting the church and remember that there may be others behind you who wish to exit.
Coffee hour will continue to be via Zoom until further notice.
Cleaning and Sanitation
We will only use our sanctuary for one in-person gathering per week which will mitigate the potential for cross contamination. Cleaning and disinfecting will be per CDC guidelines.
We are limiting all small group gatherings to essential only and are strongly encouraging all small group meetings to be conducted via Zoom. All in-person small group gatherings will require prior permission from the rector or a warden. In the event that permission is granted for an in-person small group gathering, the contact person will be required to obtain contact information from all attendees as well as sanitize all contact surfaces before leaving.
In the event that we are notified that a person with COVID-19 attended worship or other meeting at St. James, all persons that may have come into contact with that person will be notified, maintaining the confidentiality of the infected person. A team of church volunteers will, with proper PPE, sanitize/disinfect all surfaces but only after said space has been vacant for at least one week. As circumstances may dictate, we will move to alternate worship space until the infected area
is deemed safe.
Exposure to COVID-19 is an inherent risk in any public location where people are present; we cannot guarantee you will not be exposed during your visit. The CDC advises that older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from Coronavirus. Parishioners should evaluate their own risk in determining whether to attend. People who show no symptoms can spread Coronavirus if they are infected, any interaction with the general public poses an elevated risk of being exposed to Coronavirus. By coming to church, you acknowledge and agree that you assume these inherent risks associated with attendance.
Thank you in advance for your patience, understanding, and flexibility during this time. Please feel free to reach out to anyone on the COVID-19 Task Force or on the Vestry should you have any questions, comments, or concerns.
Sunday, August 16
, the COVID-19 Task Force will be hosting a Parish meeting during the Zoom coffee hour to discuss the plan, as well as to answer any questions you may have. Please plan on attending on-line or by calling in if you are able. Thanks.