Version 1.1.1 Updated Sept 20, 2020 Edited wording of baptism section
Version 1.1 Updated August 28, 2020. Added Baptism risk mitigation
1. General Context
This plan is intended to mitigate and control the risk of COVID-19 infections occurring when the church members conduct in-person meetings. The purpose of meeting is for mutual encouragement and shepherding, which are best carried out through face-to face fellowship. (2 John 12). The plan intends to meet or exceed compliance to government COVID-19 safety requirements. A copy of this plan will be kept in an accessible location at the church meeting hall.
This plan covers in person church meetings at the meeting hall at 1835 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, Washington. It will apply to all gatherings on the church property, both external and internal to the building. It will apply to all who participate in the church meetings, including members, guests, family members and outside contractors who support the meetings on site. It does not apply to activities on the church property which are not church meetings, such as maintenance and construction work by vendors, and use of the parking lot by neighbors.
3. Headship and member participation
This plan acknowledges that Christ is the head of the church and that His authority is exercised through His deputy authorities. The eldership of the church in Bellevue has the overall responsibility for ensuring the creation, maintenance, continuous improvement, and enforcement of this plan. All church members will participate in the implementation of the plan and in the continual improvement of the plan. Church leadership is committed to provide a safe and healthy church life environment.
A. Roles and responsibilities
The serving ones who are coordinating any activity on church property that is within the scope of this plan will ensure compliance with all the requirement of the plan. During the activity, a COVID-19 supervisor will be designated to monitor health of the participants and enforce this plan.
Service groups such as cleaning and arranging, hall maintenance will do their part to carry out this plan.
B. Church member participation
In the principle that the building up in love of the church, the Body of Christ, requires the operation (participation) in measure of each member, every member’s active participation in this plan’s development, planning, implementation, evaluation and actions for improvement is crucial. (Ephesians 3:16)
The church in Bellevue will consider its context, interested parties and applicable scope in the process of identifying the risks from COVID-19 and developing its plan to mitigate those risks.
Once the plan has been created, the church will take actions to execute the plan, evaluate the effectiveness of the actions and improve the plan as indicated by the results of the evaluation. This PDCA cycle will be repeated to achieve continual improvement.
5. Information and communication and training
This plan will be communicated to all the members of the church. COVID-19 safety training will be created to teach members how to comply with the safety plan.
6. Management Oversight
The eldership of the church will review the plan and monitor compliance and assess effectiveness.
7. Risk (infection hazard) identification and risk mitigation.
This section identifies the activities and tasks where COVID-19 risks are anticipated and outlines the actions and controls put in place to manage the risks. This describes what will be done to directly reduce the risk of infection. Following are activities where risk (infection hazard) have been identified and the corresponding risk mitigation plans.
A. Risk activity: Arriving at the meeting hall.
The first line of defense is that individuals who may be infected are kept from the church property. Any communication which announces an event or activity at the church property will always include the requirement that sick employees must keep themselves at home.
All who arrive at the meeting hall for a given event will be screened for signs/symptoms of COVID-19. At the hall entrance, the designated COVID-19 supervisor will make sure that each person fills out a written questionnaire to check if they have any symptoms or have possibly been exposed to the virus within the past 14 days. The questionnaire will also ask for contact information of the individual in the event they need to be contacted later. A thermometer will be used to measure their temperature. Anyone with indications of risk of COVID-19 infection will be required to return home immediately. The questionnaire will be kept at the meeting hall for 14 days as a record of everyone who has comes to the hall for an event.
COVID-19 safety information and requirements will be visibly posted at hall entry points.
Handwashing with soap and water upon arrival and frequent re-washing will be promoted.
Face masks will be available and sanitization stations will be at the hall entry points. The sanitization stations will be stocked with face masks, effective hand sanitizer and disinfecting cleaning supplies.
When feasible, only the front entrance will be used for entry and egress.
B. Risk activity: Walking past others while at the meeting hall.
A facial mask will be worn inside the meeting hall and outside, whenever there is any chance of walking within 6 feet* of other individuals. Whenever possible, maintain six-foot separation from others.
C. Risk activity: Meeting, conversing, interacting with others.
Wear facial masks. Maintain minimum six-foot separation. Use physical barriers such as clear curtains for activities where physical distancing is not possible. Minimize time in enclosed, narrow areas.
Seating or workstations will be spaced a minimum of six feet apart or be separated with physical barriers of sufficient height to prevent transmission.
There will be no direct physical contact with others.
D. Risk activity: Singing
Same as C above. In addition, because singing has been demonstrated to be a particularly high risk activity for spreading infection, normal volume singing should only be conducted outdoors. Indoor singing should be silent singing or with extra distancing or with barriers in addition to masks.
E. Risk activity: Speaking
Same as C above. An individual speaking a message to a group can do so without a mask but must be at least 12 feet away from any other person in the room while speaking without a mask.
F. Risk activity: Listening to messages.
Same as C above
G. Risk activity: Eating and drinking physical food and liquids
Eating as a group will not be done inside. Group eating outside should be very limited. Buffet-style eating is forbidden.
H. Risk activity: Using the rest rooms
Masks and distancing should be maintained inside the restrooms.
Each restroom’s maximum occupancy should be determined and posted on a sign outside. When a restroom is at maximum, the next person in line will enter only after someone exits. Markings on the floor or wall in the hallway outside the door will be provided to inform those who are waiting where to stand to keep six-foot separation.
Inside the restrooms, barriers will be in place between stalls, wash sinks or any other station where six-foot separation is not possible.
Cleaning supplies should be readily available in the restrooms, and restroom users will be encouraged to sanitize handles and other contacted surfaces before and after use.
I. Risk activity: Touching surfaces frequently contacted by others
Prior to conducting an event at the hall, the serving ones will arrange for the cleaning and sanitizing of door knobs, handles and surfaces that are frequently contacted. When the hall is being used regularly, the cleaning service groups will do this every week. Those who are using the hall will also be encouraged to clean any frequent contact surface before and after they touch that surface.
J. Risk activity: Baptism
Safety considerations are needed for three parties: the ones being baptized, the serving ones performing (or helping) the baptism and the observers of the baptism.
The number who congregate around the baptistry to observe will be limited to a size that allows adequate distancing between observers. A camera set up by the baptistry which feeds video to a separate monitor either outside or in a spacious area may allow many more to observe while maintaining safe separation.
Designated locations will be prepared for those being baptized to changing clothes. Some may choose to come from home already dressed for immersion and then afterwards change at the hall or go home in wet clothes. They will travel a prescribed path at the hall to and from the baptistry.
If more than one person is being baptized at the same time, the water used will be chlorinated and of sufficient volume to reduce risk of transmission through contact with the water. Alternatively, the water will be changed each time another person is to be baptized.
The ones performing the baptism will wear a face mask, a face shield, and gloves. Gloves will be changed each time a new person is to be baptized. The ones performing the baptism will stand
away from the one being baptized while they and others pray. They will step forward to make physical contact only while immersing the one being baptized. They will refrain from speaking at that point. The one being baptized can remove their mask just prior to being immersed in the water and will put on a mask as soon as practical after coming out of the water. If the ones who perform the baptism and the one being baptized are all in the same household, these provisions related to protection during physical contact will be optional.
Everyone who prays will use a microphone to reduce exhaled aerosol droplets.
8. Incident response and follow-up
In the event that a person who attended an event at the meeting hall is later confirmed or probable for COVID-19 infection, any areas that that person worked, touched surfaces etc. will be condoned off until the area and equipment is cleaned and disinfected thoroughly per the cleaning guidelines set by the CDC. All those who attended the event will be notified that they may have been exposed to the virus. The COVID-19 supervisor of the event will assemble a team to conduct an investigation to assess how the safety plan might need to be improved. The church elders will review the case and decide how to address any issues from the current incident and how to proceed in the future.