COVID-19 Safety Plan
Messiah Evangelical Lutheran Church
4301 Mount Read Blvd.
Rochester, NY 14616
Aileen Robbins, Pastor, 315-719-4306
Jeff Gerstenberger, President, 585-520-3159
This COVID-19 Safety Plan has been developed in accordance with directives from the New York State Department of Health and has been approved by Messiah’s Church Council. Since our understanding of the nature of COVID-19 itself and its presence and transmission in our community are constantly changing, this policy will be updated as needed to reflect the current situation. Throughout this pandemic our top priority is protecting the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding physical distancing:
- A 6 foot distance shall be maintained between all individuals unless they reside in the same household.
- Members of the staff, congregation, and visitors must properly wear a face mask that covers their nose and mouth at all times in the building and whenever engaged in a group activity anywhere on the church property.
- Messiah will provide a free face mask to any staff member on request.
- Messiah will have a supply of free face masks for members of the congregation and visitors who do not have one. If that supply of masks is depleted, the individual will not be permitted to enter the building or participate in any group activity (inside or outside).
- If anyone refuses to wear a mask in the building, they will be politely asked to leave. If they refuse and will not leave the property, 911 will be called to assist in escorting them off our property.
- Staff members are permitted to remove their face masks in their own offices.
- Signs will be posted near the playground and basketball to encourage people to properly wear face masks and practice social distancing.
- In-person meetings (with the exception of worship) will be limited as much as possible and shall not exceed 15 people. Tele- or video-conferencing will be used whenever possible.
Use of Space
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding the use of space:
- Members of the congregation and visitors may only access the main entrance, narthex, sanctuary, upper-level restrooms, lower-level restrooms, and fellowship hall. All other areas (e.g., nursery, offices, library, conference room, youth room, choir room, prayer chapel, kitchen, etc.) are restricted from use by the congregation and visitors. Exceptions to these limitations must be approved in advance by the Pastor or President.
- The north handicapped entrance will be closed and signs will be posted to that effect.
- One set of main doors will be used for entrance to the building with the other marked for exit. Clear arrows and lines delineating flow of traffic will be placed on the floor indicating traffic patterns.
- Occupancy of the sanctuary shall be limited to a maximum of 75 people.
- Occupancy of fellowship hall shall be limited to a maximum of 15 people.
- Only one person at a time shall use any restroom.
- Only one person at a time shall use the elevator (unless all riders reside in the same household).
- Offices, the copier room, and other small spaces shall only be occupied by one (staff) person at a time.
- Use of the conference room is limited to essential in-person meetings for staff members only. Such gatherings shall not exceed 4 individuals, and regardless of the number of individuals, face masks must be worn. The use of tele- or video-conferencing is preferred whenever possible.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding our worship services:
- Everyone is required to properly wear a face mask and 6 foot physical distancing shall be maintained between all individuals during worship (unless they reside in the same household).
- There will be advance sign up for worship services to keep the number of worship participants below the maximum.
- Singing is not permitted at any time, even when wearing a face mask or when worshipping outdoors.
- Individuals are asked not to come into contact with others when greeting each other (unless they reside in the same household).
- Bulletins and other printed materials (including hymnals and Bibles) will not be made available during worship.
- The sanctuary doors will be blocked open to minimize touching of door handles.
- Ushers will individually dismiss rows of worshippers after the service to maintain physical distancing.
- In the sanctuary only 1 out of 4 rows of pews will be used in any given service. Seating within the pews will be marked to indicate 6 foot spacing and successive services will use different rows of pews with different color markings. As people enter the sanctuary, they will be told to use the designated color seat markings for that service.
- There will be a minimum period of three hours after a worship service before the sanctuary can be used for another worship service.
- For the time being, in-person communion will not be offered due to physical distancing.
- For the time being, all funeral services will be outdoor graveside only.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding our procedures for using our space and keeping it clean:
- Touch-less hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at the main entrance and every person entering the building will be encouraged to use them. Hand sanitizer will also be available in the narthex and outside the mens and womens restrooms. Signs will be placed near hand sanitizer stations indicating that visibly soiled hands should be washed with soap and water; hand sanitizer is not effective on visibly soiled hands
- Social distancing lines indicating 6 foot spacing will be marked in the narthex area around the entrances to the sanctuary and in the aisles of the sanctuary.
- Signs will be posted at each entrance of the building reminding people not to enter if they have had exposure to someone with COVID, have tested positive for COVID in the last 14 days, are subject to quarantine, or have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or are otherwise feeling unwell.
- Signs will be posted in the narthex area reminding people to keep a 6 foot distance from others.
- Signs will be posted at each elevator door reminding people that only one person (and possibly their family members) should use the elevator at a time.
- Face masks are for individual use and are not to be shared.
- A log of everyone who enters the church will be kept for contact tracing purposes. For worship services, the advance sign-up will be used to accelerate the log in process. For other people or situations, we will collect name, phone number, and verification of answers to health screening questions.
- Coffee hour will not be offered after worship. Everyone will be encouraged to leave the building after the service.
- Staff members are required to self-screen for COVID symptoms each day before entering the building, including taking their temperature no more than 2 hours beforehand, and recording their screening in a log.
- Members of the staff who test positive for COVID-19 are required to inform the Pastor or President immediately. Members of the congregation and visitors who test positive for COVID-19 are asked to inform the Pastor or President immediately. Such notifications are to be commended and the identity of the individual will be kept confidential. Upon receiving notification of a positive test result, Messiah will use the participants log to notify each person that attended an event with the positive individual over the past two weeks. This is in addition to the official contact tracing performed by the Department of Health.
- If a staff member tests positive for COVID-19 the Pastor or President will immediately notify state and local health departments and cooperate with contact tracing efforts.
- All attendance logs and cleaning logs will be kept for 8 weeks.
- Periodic testing for COVID-19 of the pastor and staff will be done in accordance with guidance from the state and county health departments.
- Regular cleaning and disinfection of the facility will occur weekly. High risk areas used by many individuals and frequently touched surfaces will occur after each service at a minimum.
- Restrooms will be cleaned and disinfected between worship services. Disinfecting wipes will be provided in every restroom with signage indicating that users should wipe down all handles and faucets after use.
- A copy of the New York State Department of Health’s “Interim Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfection of Public and Private Facilities for COVID-19” will be provided for our professional cleaners as well as volunteers of our cleaning teams.
- MELC will provide appropriate cleaning and disinfection supplies for shared and frequently touched surfaces (counters, tables, chairs, hand rails, kitchenette and bathroom faucets, light switches, door handles, handles on carts, ie. video cart, remote controls, switches for sound system, etc) and encourage participants to use these supplies, following manufacturers’ instructions, before and after use of these surfaces, followed by hand hygiene.