COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for Cherokee Park United Church – approved by Council on June 8, 2021
As a community of faith, Cherokee Park United Church (hereafter named CPUC) is committed to fostering spiritual practice and community building, and practicing love of our neighbor and solidarity with the vulnerable. In relation to COVID-19, this means practicing an abundance of care and caution, and approaching questions of in-person gatherings with faith and science-informed intentionality. To help ensure this, CPUC has developed the following COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
This plan is a living document. Changes and adjustments to it are to be expected. This plan cannot account for every possibility or eventuality, so we trust in the Spirit’s guidance, God’s wisdom present in community, and extending grace to one another.
This plan is approved by the CPUC Council. The Council can amend or make exceptions to this policy as deemed necessary. Council will empower a small team to make amendments to this plan, to allow for more flexibility and responsiveness to ever-shifting circumstances. If an urgent interpretation is needed, the Pastor is authorized to do so. All church employees, members, visitors, and renters are equally responsible for supporting, implementing, complying with, and providing recommendations to further improve all aspects of this COVID-19 Preparedness Plan.
CPUC has reviewed and incorporated guidance provided by the state of Minnesota for the development of this plan, and will continue to take into account recommendations and requirements from local, state, and federal health authorities.
• Stay home if:
o you have symptoms (cough, fever, loss of smell, etc.).
o have come in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days.
o Are at higher risk of severe COVID-19.
o Cannot or are unwilling to follow distancing, masking, and other guidelines in this plan.
o All people will wear masks while inside CPUC. Masks are to be properly worn covering mouth and nose for the duration of time that one is inside. A supply of disposable masks will be available for those without coverings.
o Masks may be momentarily removed to drink water, blow one’s nose, or partake of Communion.
• Physical Distancing:
o All people are to maintain 6’ of distance between themselves and any others not from their same household, insofar as possible.
o Tables, chairs, and pews will be arranged or marked to provide at least 6 feet between people.
• Hand washing/sanitizing:
o All are encouraged to wash hands thoroughly and regularly, and to avail themselves of hand sanitizer located at entrances, exits, and throughout the church building.
o We encourage all to avoid touching their face and when gathered in group settings.
o We encourage all to carry their own hand sanitizer.
• Cover your cough and sneeze:
o All are encouraged to cover their cough or sneeze and to wash or sanitize one’s hands after coughing or sneezing.
• As we resume offering an in-person worship option (beginning Sunday, July 4th), we are mindful that some may not choose that option for a number of reasons (e.g. not feeling comfortable/safe in-person, higher risk, geographic distance, symptoms or illness, building capacity limits, etc). As such, we will stream our worship on Facebook Live as a matter of accessibility and continue to seek ways to be united as one congregation.
• Those wishing to attend worship in-person will need to sign up in advance (on a weekly Sign Up Genius list or by calling Pastor Matthias) so that we can ensure physical distancing and for purpose of contact tracing in the event of positive COVID cases.
• Masks will be worn at all times inside during worship, including by the cantor, pastor, and liturgist. Masks may be momentarily removed to drink water, blow one’s nose, or partake of Communion.
• On Communion Sundays, we will serve Communion in a manner which accounts for COVID-19 safety.
• Seating will be designated so as to comply with physical distancing recommendations. Family units may sit together.
• Bulletins will be available to pick up on a table upon entering the sanctuary.
• No nursery or Children’s Sunday School will be available at this time.
• Fellowship after worship may take place outside; bring your own refreshments. No food or drink will be provided. All are reminded to observe masking and physical distancing guidelines.
• When we “pass the peace” we encourage everyone to find creative ways to express greetings and affection while maintaining physical distancing of 6’.
• Communal singing is not permitted; congregants in the sanctuary may hum, clap, or participate with percussion. Cantor will use a microphone and have a plexiglass barrier between them and the congregation.
• An offering plate will be available at the back of the sanctuary for folks to leave offerings on their way out after worship.
• For now, the Manomin St. entrance will be the only available entrance for in-person worship in order to help maintain physical distancing, mask wearing, and capacity limits. A greeter will be stationed at this entry way to welcome worshippers, share information about our COVID policies, provide masks if needed, and answer questions as needed.
• Two greeters will be needed each Sunday. One to welcome folks at the Baker St. door and direct them to enter the Manomin entrance; the other to welcome folks at the Manomin St. door.
• Doors to the Peace Room will be open during worship. Windows in the Peace Room will be opened and have box fans blowing outward in effort to help ventilate air from the sanctuary outward. Overhead fans will not be used, so as to avoid uncontrolled spread of particulates around the sanctuary.
Small Group Gatherings
• For the purpose of this plan, small groups are 15 or fewer people.
• Small groups may gather in-person. Groups gathering indoors must wear masks and observe physical distancing.
• Small groups gathering outdoors may choose not to wear masks so long as physical distancing is maintained.
• Drinks or food may be partaken in outdoor gatherings, though participants are discouraged from sharing food/beverage. It is recommended that each participant bring their own refreshments.
• Small groups should determine one or two people to set up chairs for physical distance ahead of time and provide for other safety measures as may be appropriate (e.g. locating hand sanitizer and placing it somewhere accessible to the gathering, turning on bathroom fans/filters, etc.)
• Small groups should designate one person at each in-person gathering to keep a list of attendees in the event communication is needed relating to contact tracing or a positive COVID test.
• Communication of this plan to congregation will be circulated through email and available on the CPUC website. Paper copies can be mailed to those requesting them or those without access to electronic means of accessing them.
• Attendees at any in-person gathering or worship agree to contact Pastor Matthias if they have a positive COVID-19 test result within 10 days of having attended and in-person event, or if they discover they had been exposed to someone with a positive COVID-19 test result prior to having attended a CPUC in-person gathering or worship.
• In the event a positive COVID-19 result is reported to CPUC by someone who had attended a CPUC in-person event within the past 10 days, others who may have come in contact with this person will be informed of the positive test result and potential exposure by email and/or phone. As much as possible, we will try to safeguard the confidentiality of the person who tests positive. The purpose of sharing this information is for the well-being of the whole community, our values of honesty and transparency, and so that each person may make informed decisions about their own participation and self-care.
• Communication of changes to this plan will be sent out by email, and the version of the plan on the CPUC website will be kept current. In the event an urgent interpretation is needed, such communication may happen verbally to those gathered in-person.
Building & Facilities
• The CPUC Building will be cleaned weekly using cleaning products which are proven to kill COVID-19. Cleaning schedule will be coordinated between the pastor and the custodian, with input from Property Management Ministry as needed.
o Special attention will be given to high touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, railing, and pew backs.
• All people entering the building during the week or outside of particular meetings or events are asked to use the Office side door and to sign in with name, date, time in, and time out on the clip board next to the door.
• Signs will be posted reminding all guests to wear masks, maintain physical distancing, wash hands often and thoroughly, and cover coughs & sneezes.
• Hand sanitizer will be available at building entrances and other key locations around the building. Hand washing supplies (i.e. soap, paper towels) will be kept well-supplied. All guests will be encouraged to use hand sanitizer and wash hands.
• Bathroom fans are to be left running during in-person events or gatherings.
• The kitchen will not be available initially; notice will be sent out to the congregation and renting groups when the kitchen is available to use again.
Why are we wearing masks/distancing when city, state, and federal ordinances have or will have expired by the time we meet to worship in-person?
• We are not asking anyone who comes to worship their vaccine status or to show their vaccine card. As such, there may be those worshipping among us who have not been vaccinated. Everyone masking up reduces the risk for us all, and allows us to worship together without discriminating based on vaccine status.
• Children are not yet able to get vaccinated and still have to wear masks for school and many activities. While we know children tend to have a lower rate of severe COVID-19, the risk is not zero. Beyond that, children will see the example of adults around them. If children are required to wear masks at school or in public, but they see adults not wearing masks, that sends a message.
• We will continue to wear masks at CPUC worship because we care about each other and the well-being of one another. Wearing masks primarily protects those around us by reducing the likelihood we will spread COVID-19 to them. Those who are unable to get the vaccine or most anxious about contracting it will hopefully feel more welcomed and comfortable at CPUC worship and gatherings seeing that all are masked.
• We may at some future point no longer need masks. However, as we ease back into gathering in-person, we would rather be more cautious and move slower in order to ensure the health of all, rather than removing precautions swiftly and potentially regretting such haste should someone become ill with COVID-19.
COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for Cherokee Park United Church – approved by Council on June 8, 2021