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.
- All 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 regardless of their vaccination status.
- Unvaccinated members of the staff, congregation, and visitors must also properly wear a face mask whenever participating in an outdoor activity on the church property.
- Vaccinated members of the staff, congregation, and visitors are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask whenever participating in an outdoor activity on the church property. If children are present, then vaccinated individuals are required to wear a mask for outdoor activities.
- Messiah will provide free face masks at the main entrance to the building.
- If anyone refuses to wear a mask as required by this policy, 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.
- In-person meetings (with the exception of worship) will be limited as much as possible and shall not exceed 25 people. Tele- or video-conferencing will be used whenever possible.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding the use of space:
- Occupancy of the sanctuary shall be limited to a maximum of 75 people.
- Occupancy of Fellowship Hall shall be limited to a maximum of 25 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).
- The copier room and other small spaces shall only be occupied by one person at a time.
- Offices may be occupied by up to two people 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.
- Group meetings are permitted in Fellowship Hall for groups that meet regularly (one-time events/rentals are not permitted).
- All rules regarding masking, distancing, and maximum occupancy apply.
- Groups shall restore tables and chairs after their meeting to the arrangement they were in beforehand.
- Outside groups shall keep their own sign-up sheet of attendees in the event contact tracing becomes necessary.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding our indoor 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).
- Only murmured singing will be permitted by the congregation. Up to four members of the choir may sing fully from the back of the balcony while maintaining 12 foot physical distancing and wearing masks.
- Individuals are asked to maintain 6 foot physical distancing when greeting each other (unless they reside in the same household).
- Hymnals and Bibles will not be made available during worship.
- The interior sanctuary doors will be blocked open to minimize touching of door handles.
- In the sanctuary only every other pew will be used during any service.
- There will be a minimum period of three hours after a worship service before the sanctuary can be used for another worship service.
- Communion may be offered in a manner that preserves physical distancing. The Pastor and communion assistant shall wear a face mask while offering communion, and N95 masks will be offered for their use.
- Funeral services shall follow these same protocols.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, and visitors, we have adopted the following policies regarding our outdoor worship services (when available):
- Unvaccinated individuals are required to properly wear a face mask. Vaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to wear a face mask. If children are present, then everyone is required to wear a face mask.
- 6 foot physical distancing shall be maintained between all individuals during worship (unless they reside in the same household).
- “Hushed” singing is permitted during outdoor worship.
- Individuals are asked not to come into contact with others when greeting each other (unless they reside in the same household).
- Everyone will be asked to bring their own seating and set it up so as to maintain a 6 foot
space between family groups.
- Bulletins may be offered to enable responsive readings, unison prayer, etc. A recycle
bin will be made available for people to put their bulletins in after worship.
- An offering plate will be placed on a table at the entrance of the worship space, but will
not be passed around during the service.
- The sharing of the peace will not be part of the worship.
- When communion is offered, the elements (including individual pieces of bread) will be
prepared ahead by the Altar Guild. The bread and pre-filled cups will be offered either to people in their seats or people may be invited to come forward to receive the elements.
For the health and safety of our staff, congregation, visitors, and their families, it is Messiah’s policy that indoor visitation with unvaccinated individuals will not be offered.
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 men’s and women’s 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
- 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 indoors after worship. Everyone will be encouraged to leave the building after the service.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.