Returning to In-Person Activities Advisory Group
RIPA Recommendations to Session for Gathering Safely
(Proposed for Session Approval on 11/17/21)
Guiding Principles: Our policies will be guided by CDC and NJ state guidelines, providing faithful opportunities to gather, keeping in mind what’s beneficial for the community within and beyond PCOL. We encourage all who participate in the life of PCOL (and are eligible to do so) to receive full COVID-19 vaccination.
- Allowed Attendance (# limits)
- All spaces will be limited to 50% of capacity per Fire Code.
- Who Can Attend (Ages)
- All ages can attend; it is up to parents of unvaccinated children to assess risk. Where applicable, we will follow the protocols and policies of the Lawrence Township Public Schools regarding Covid. Children’s Ministries will provide programming, outdoors when possible, with distancing and masking required.
- Vaccination Status
- All are welcome, although it is recommended that those who attend (who are eligible) be fully vaccinated. We will provide assistance as needed to support this effort.
- Parents of young children, those not fully vaccinated and those with compromised immune systems will assess their own risk.
- Distancing Requirements
- Reasonable physical distancing will be encouraged and only households are to sit together. Ushers will seat people to support distancing, in every other pew.
- Masks/Worship Leader Masking
- Required for indoor activities, including for children 2 years and older.
- Worship leaders and vocal musicians who are fully vaccinated will wear masks except when directly leading the service/singing. Thus, for the choir, if everyone is vaccinated and comfortable, masks may be removed during singing. (Unvaccinated leaders/musicians will wear masks throughout.)
- Attendance Records
- Attendance records will be taken at all events, should contact tracing be needed.
- Responsive Liturgy/Passing the Peace
- Spoken word allowed (with appropriate masking). Passing of the Peace – people will remain in their pews, with no touching.
- Congregational Singing
- Allowed with masks on.
- Taking Offering
- Offering plates will again be passed in the pews.
- Pre-packaged communion elements will be provided. Masks will be removed only for the consumption of the elements.
- Allowed indoors with adapted liturgy and in consultation with pastoral staff.
- Our goal is to maximize ventilation, as appropriate to current conditions related to precipitation or cold weather, as an essential strategy to help limit Covid spread.
- Whenever outdoor weather is dry and above 60 degrees, all Meetinghouse windows will be opened wide during services, both upstairs and downstairs. Fans should be used at open windows aiming outside only, to assist the prevailing wind direction – as appropriate.
- If outdoor temperature is below 60 degrees, Meetinghouse windows will be opened to a lesser extent during services, both upstairs and downstairs. Consideration will be given to the choir’s comfort and efforts to avoid potential damage to the organ in determining amount balcony windows will be opened. Worshippers planning to attend in-person will be advised to dress for possible colder-than-usual indoor temperatures.
- Childcare will be provided in the nursery, with all caregivers masked and fully vaccinated.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Continue to encourage use upon arrival, at front and back of Meetinghouse and in various convenient locations throughout the facility.
- Other Indoor Gatherings/Activities
- Allowed Numbers
- 50% of allowed capacity for indoor spaces. Specific maximum allowed attendee numbers by room have been calculated based on fire code.
- Masking/Social Distancing/Ventilation
- Masking is still required for all indoor activities, and reasonable social distancing is strongly encouraged where possible. Windows will be opened for ventilation, weather permitting.
- Registration/Attendance Records
- Continue to require and maintain attendance records with contact information for all attending.
- We acknowledge the significance of sharing food and table fellowship for our community, and we want to balance this good with the risk it entails. If the Covid test percent positivity rate in our region is below 3%, food/drink will be allowed indoors, and is always allowed outdoors. Whenever possible, masks should be worn and distancing maintained. Food/drink however will not be served on Christmas Eve or at Sunday coffee hour indoors at this time. Organizations using church facilities will strongly encourage all who remove masks to consume food/beverages be vaccinated.
- Surface Cleaning
- Still encourage use of hand sanitizer and surface cleaning of high-touch surfaces with sanitizing wipes/cleaner after use.
- Allowed Attendee Numbers – No limit, as long as reasonable distancing is accomplished.
- Masks & Distancing
- Masks required for worship, regardless of vaccine status. Tents to be set up for worship to support distancing, as needed.
- For Social Events – Masks optional for fully-vaccinated attendees, though strongly encouraged; masks required for those not fully vaccinated. Important to distance when unmasking to eat outdoors.
- Allowed if pre-packaged individual servings; no passing/sharing.