The Official Board of Grace, following the recommendation of the Re-Opening Task Team has approved that Phase 1 of the opening of the church can begin immediately. Phase 1 is the availability of the church for groups of up to 15 persons, provided they are following Alberta Health Services guidelines. At this time Phase 2, which is the opening of Grace to Worship Services will not begin until the New Year.
Grace United Church Re-Opening Plan for COVID-19 as of October 15, 2020.
Guiding Principles as determined by the Official Board of Grace United Church
- All plans and protocols are in alignment with Provincial, United Church and Northern Spirit Regional guidance and direction, and will be revised as those protocols change.
- In accordance with the above guidance, we acknowledge that the church has a duty of care to its members and the wider community, and therefore is called to take a cautious and conservative approach to re-opening which prioritizes health, safety, and equity of access.
- We have taken a gradual and phased approach to re-opening, considering the above guiding principles, and the church’s capacity to maintain its health and safety protocols and to offer programs. We have also considered the results of our phone survey of members in this decision.
- The official board of Grace United Church, with the Reopening Task Team will determine which Phase the church is in, and any significant changes to the plan, and will communicate this to all its members.
After careful consideration, and following the Guiding Principles above, the Board of Grace United Church, with the recommendation of the Reopening Task Team has determined the following:
PHASE 1: Opening Grace facilities to small groups and meetings is approved as of the above date and can commence within the guidelines detailed in this document.
PHASE 2: Opening Grace to attended worship services will not occur before mid January. Services will continue to be offered online, with special consideration to create a meaningful experience for the congregation during and leading up to Christmas. Considerations for delaying the reopening include concerns for rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, an opportunity to assess the results of other churches and institutions who have opened, the concerns of a majority of the congregation, the requirement to have several well trained ushers and greeters available for services, the extra administration and disinfecting required. Another concern is the congregation’s overwhelming desire that attended services be offered via livestreaming with the inherent cost for special equipment and need for volunteer technicians.
Protocols for the implementation of Phase 2 are being created now and will be made available at the time Phase 2 is approved.
Phase 1 Declaration:
The church board, committees, activities and small groups (up to 15 people) may now choose to meet in person. Groups planning on using the church facilities must submit their plan for meeting health and safety protocols, based on this document. There must be a designated person on record as being responsible for ensuring all protocols are followed. This plan should be submitted to the church office (email@example.com). From there it will be forwarded to the Re-opening Task Team who will review it and make a recommendation to the Official Board of Grace United Church.
Rental/community groups are allowed, (up to 15 people) provided they follow all guidelines and church protocols as detailed in this document. Outside groups must write a plan for meeting health & safety protocols, and have a designated person on record as responsible for ensuring protocols are followed. This plan should be submitted to the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org). From there it will be forwarded to the Re-opening Task Team who will review it and make a recommendation to the Official Board of Grace United Church. Outside rental/community groups should be encouraged to utilize the Annex Building if possible. All attendees must sign a waiver of liability and acknowledgement that they understand the requirements and will adhere to them and will admit a Grace member who may inspect for monitoring purposes without notice. Failure to comply may result in loss of meeting privileges.
Note: In-person gatherings for which the following protocols cannot be ensured, should not proceed at this time
Administrative Guidelines and Requirements
- Only one group in the church at one time. If a group is using the Annex at the same time as the Church building, start and finish times should not coincide, to reduce numbers arriving and departing.
- All bookings need to be scheduled through the church office. Dates and times need to be part of the plan to be submitted.
- Staff and church board/committee members wishing to access the building for cleaning, maintenance, office work, recording worship, or general errands are required to inform the church office in advance. If there is a requirement for last minute entrance on an occasional basis, a system for that needs to be approved by staff.
- The church office will remain closed to the public, however there may be appointments booked with the Church Administrator for specific purposes.
- Outdoor gatherings of larger groups are allowed (church garden/lawn or in a park), with proper distancing (current guideline is 2 meters) and other protocols for outside events followed. A plan for these events will also need to be submitted to the church office for approval.
- Online options for participation should be offered to those who are unable to attend due to COVID-19 concerns.
- Other activities and gatherings – including worship – continue online
Tracking & Monitoring:
The church building is entered through the alarmed doors at the South West corner, with access for the elevator to be arranged in advance.
- Everyone entering the building MUST sign in using the Attendance Record Sheet inside the entrance door, including date and times in the building, and contact info. Contact information is for contact tracing purposes, should someone be diagnosed with COVID-19, and will not be retained for more than two weeks. Procedures will be in place to make the sign in process safe.
- Grace will use the sign in sheet to monitor and keep a record of the numbers of people using the facilities and will not retain the names and contact info past the required time of two weeks.
- All gatherings must have someone appointed to be responsible for ensuring protocols including the sign in, are followed.
Health and Safety Guidelines
- Require group members be free of any COVID-19 symptoms (including but not limited to: fever, shortness of breath, cough, difficulty breathing, headaches, diarrhea, aches and pains, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, and/or runny nose), have not travelled outside of Canada over the last 14 days, have not been in contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
- Groups of 8 people or less may meet in the Sunshine Room, groups of up to 15 people may meet in the Social Room, Annex or Sanctuary. No groups larger than 15 people during Phase 1.
- Each group must have a designated person to take responsibility for sanitization before the group leaves.
- Food and beverages – Attendees should bring their own drinking containers and individual food, pre-packaged food only, no shared food. Kitchen cannot be used without prior approval.
- Singing in the church facilities must be in accordance with the recommendations by AHS
- Appropriate physical distancing must be maintained. Current Provincial guidelines are 2 meters
- Face coverings that cover both the nose and mouth are to be worn at all times while inside the Church facilities, with the exception of staff while in their private offices. Face coverings should be available at the entrance.
- Cleaning and disinfecting supplies and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the facilities.
- Individuals and groups must disinfect (using alcohol wipes or spray) high touch surfaces used (light switches, alarm pad, door knobs, tables, chairs, etc) before they leave the building.
- Other areas of the church building other than washrooms are not to be used or entered, as that will require more cleaning and sanitizing by our staff. Children under 12 need to be accompanied to the washroom and are not to wander in the church building.
- Scientific studies are more and more focusing on aerosol transmission, so consideration for ventilation (keeping doors to meeting rooms open, running fans or opening windows when weather is amenable), and keeping meetings and events under 90 minutes in length should be considered
Note: Those who are classified high risk, those with underlying medical conditions, and those with vulnerable family members at home may feel more comfortable participating in online activities. Wherever possible, face to face meetings should be made accessible to all through audio video sharing, ie ZOOM and Google Meets.