Review your Infectious Disease Plan

While health officials are keeping a close watch on the novel (new) coronavirus COVID-19, now is a good time to review your ministry’s infectious disease plan

And if you don’t yet have a plan, the CDC has a resource to help get you started: Guidance for Community and Faith Organizations 

You also can talk with your local and state health department about your plan. And check their websites; they should have regular updates and resources posted about COVID-19.

With the novel coronavirus, consider the following to include in your plan:

  • Replacing in-person meetings with conference calls, videoconferencing, or Facetime.
  • Identifying protective measures for your volunteers and staff doing outreach work.
  • Educating your greeters to wave “hi” instead of using handshakes, fist bumps, or hugs.
  • Having a supply of alcohol-based (65-95%) hand sanitizers readily available for employees, volunteers, and church attendees to use.
  • Encouraging church attendees to stay home when they are sick with respiratory disease symptoms. And make sure they know how to view services online, if you have that capability.
  • Setting up a way for church attendees to continue to tithe online or via text. 
  • Skipping communion or finding an alternative to communal cup sharing or breaking of bread. 
  • Encouraging your staff and volunteers to stay home when they are sick. They also should not come in until they are fever free for at least 24 hours without the help of fever-reducing medications.
  • Staying stocked up on disposable wipes to clean surfaces daily in your office (e.g., keyboard, desktop, mouse, phone, chair arms).
  • Wiping down hard surfaces on chairs or pews in between services.
  • Knowing how you will communicate with your congregation if you need to modify, postpone, or cancel activities or services. 

Northshore, a 2,000 member non-denominational church in Kirkland, Washington, is at the epicenter of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak. Their staff shares some important questions to ask your church leaders as you review your plan:

What does our cleaning/sanitation process currently look like?

  • Are all our frequently touched surfaces involved in the cleaning process (ie doors, handles, water fountains, tables, sinks, check-in stations, touchscreens)?
  • Do we need to take extra cleaning measures?

What will we need to do around service elements?

  • Will we stop Communion during this time?
  • Will we stop passing the offering buckets/plates (if applicable)?
  • Will we stop passing out bulletins/programs (if applicable)?
  • Will we stop doing a greeting time (if applicable)?

Are we asking our volunteers/door greeters/welcome teams to refrain from shaking hands?

  • Are we asking them to frequently wash their hands?
  • Do we refrain from offering coffee or other treats during this time?

What does our cleaning/sanitation process look like for kid’s rooms?

  • Are all our frequently touched surfaces involved in the cleaning process (ie toys, doors, handles, water fountains, tables, sinks, check-in stations, touchscreens)?
  • Do we need to take extra cleaning measures?
  • Are we visibly doing things that help people see cleanliness? (ie putting out hand sanitizer stations, having staff/volunteers wipe surfaces while people are around)

Used with Permission CDC.gov
Used with Permission Northshore Church
Posted March 9, 2020 

The information provided in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.