* Updated September 8, 2021
Riverside Evangelical Church is committed to providing a safe and healthy worship gathering for all of our attendees. To ensure that, we have developed the following Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All members are responsible for implementing this plan. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our church, and that requires full cooperation among all attendees. Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of our worship gatherings.
We are serious about safety and health and keeping our attendees worshiping at Riverside Evangelical Church. Our Preparedness Plan follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines and federal OSHA standards related to COVID-19 and addresses:
- hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
- engineering and administrative controls for social distancing;
- housekeeping – cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination;
- prompt identification and isolation of sick persons;
- communications and training that will be provided to managers and workers; and
- management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the plan.
Screening and policies for attendees exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19
All members and attendees have been informed of and encouraged to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. We are depending on self-monitoring of all members and attendees, and we are discouraging anyone from attending Sunday worship who is ill whether with COVID-19 symptoms or not. In the event that someone begins to manifest illness or symptoms during a worship gathering, ushers or other church officers will isolate the ill person in the cry room (if unused; otherwise one of the offices) to prevent the spread of illness any further. At the ill person’s discretion, they will be allowed to leave the gathering at the first sign of symptoms and after informing the ushers or deacons of their symptoms in order to inform the rest of the attendees who may have been exposed.
Riverside Evangelical Church has also implemented a policy for informing members and attendees if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 at the worship gathering. We will communicate with the entire membership regarding the positive diagnosis.
In addition, a policy has been implemented to protect the privacy of members’ and attendees’ health status and health information. We will communicate diagnoses anonymously unless the infected person grants permission for us to share such information as a prayer request and/or desire for the safety of others.
Basic infection prevention measures are being implemented at our gatherings at all times. Members and attendees are instructed to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water both before and after our gatherings, and after using the toilet. We will provide hand-sanitizer dispensers (that use sanitizers of greater than 60% alcohol) as available that can be used for hand hygiene in place of soap and water, as long as hands are not visibly soiled.
The bathrooms located near the entrance of our worship space provide easy access to soap and water before and after the worship gathering. Hand-sanitizer dispensers will be conveniently located at the entrance and exit(s) of the worship space.
Respiratory etiquette: Cover your cough or sneeze
All members and attendees are being instructed to cover their mouth and nose with their sleeve or a tissue when coughing or sneezing and to avoid touching their face—in particular their mouth, nose and eyes—with their hands. They should dispose of tissues in the trash and wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward. Respiratory etiquette will be supported by making tissues and trash receptacles available to everyone in attendance.
We will provide these instructions via email before our worship gatherings and on signs at the entrance to reinforce their adherence.
Social distancing is being made available in the worship space through seating in the north and west wings of the church spaced six feet apart.
In compliance with Minnesota Executive Order 21–23, face coverings or masks are not currently required in the church building. We will make disposable masks available at the entrance for those who wish to use them.
In accordance with state and CDC guidelines, we recommend the use of masks in the building for unvaccinated persons above the age of two, when possible.
We will comply with further state and local regulations regarding masks should they go into effect.
Communications and training
This Preparedness Plan was communicated via email and posted to our website for all members and attendees on June 21, 2020, and necessary training was provided. Additional communication and training will be ongoing via public announcements during services and internet video and provided to all members and attendees. The pastor and Session are to monitor how effective the program has been implemented by paying special attention before and after worship gatherings; they will report together after each worship gathering as needed. All members and attendees are to work through this new program together and leadership will update the training as necessary. This Preparedness Plan has been certified by the Session of Riverside Evangelical Church and was posted to all members and attendees on June 21, 2020. It will be updated as necessary. [Updated May 30, 2021]