COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan for First Lutheran Church
Mission Statement: As faithful disciples, we serve God and welcome all people with open hearts.
This plan template was developed to support the implementation of public health activities required to minimize the spread of COVID19 at First Lutheran Church and was informed by the CDC and State of Minnesota Guidance.
Approval Date: August 11, 2020
First Lutheran Church Plan
First Lutheran Church (FLC) is committed to providing a safe and healthy facility for our staff, members, and visitors while fulfilling the work of the Church. This plan was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure we implement strategies and procedures to preserve public health. It is expected that the entire church will have a role in implementing this plan to mitigate transmission of COVID-19 within our facility and our community that would result in a disruption to our mission. Therefore, all persons in our facility will be expected to comply with all aspects of this plan. The church leadership and council have full support in enforcing the provisions of this policy.
This plan has been developed by FLC’s SMART Team along with church staff and feedback from members. Guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Minnesota Department of Health, Northwestern Minnesota Synod (NWMN) Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, and applicable State of Minnesota orders have been incorporated into the plan as appropriate including:
- Hygiene, cleaning, and disinfecting;
- Prompt identification and isolation of sick persons;
- Controls for social distancing;
- Housekeeping, including cleaning, disinfection, and decontamination;
- Communications and training that will be provided to persons on-site; and
- Management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the plan.
This preparedness and response plan assume the following:
- FLC will follow guidance from the Governor, the Minnesota Department of Health, and from the NWMN.
- FLC personnel will fall into different disease risk categories and decisions for onsite work will be made following the medical and public health guidance for risk stratification. FLC’s role is not to determine the risk level of individuals; rather the church leadership should ensure individuals can make their own informed choices and be supported.
- FLC personal and activities resumption will occur in a phased approach and comply with established guidance provided in this plan.
- The COVID19 situation will evolve and FLC will remain adaptable and nimble to the dynamic environment. The baseline level of risk for those working and using our facility will change requiring a reassessment of what level of resumption and precautions are appropriate.
- Those functions that can practically stay at home to complete work will do so until FLC is fully opened to minimize large gatherings.
- Social distancing, wearing of face coverings or other appropriate PPE, hand-washing, and disinfection of surfaces are key factors to reducing the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
- Personal responsibility is key to safe operations and the avoidance of disease transmission. Educational materials will be developed for staff, members, and visitors to the FLC facility.
COVID-19 Plan Management
The COVID19 church coordinator is Calie Anderson and is responsible for COVID-19 assessment and implementation of this plan with the Smart Team. All FLC staff will be provided with the coordinator’s name and how to contact the coordinator with any COVID-19 concerns. Calie may be reached at 218-321-0970 or church office 739-3348 . This plan will apply to anyone working in or visiting the church.
- The church has reached out to state and/or local public health officials and occupational safety and health professionals and established ongoing communications to make sure they are getting relevant and up-to-date information concerning COVID19.
- The church coordinator and staff leadership are aware of and will follow all applicable regulations and public health agency guidelines.
- Facility assessments to identify COVID-19 risks and prevention strategies should be done periodically as part of sound occupational health and public health practice. This plan will be reviewed by the Smart team every month or as guidance changes to ensure effectiveness.
Facility Public Health Measures
Infection prevention measures are being implemented at our facility in accordance with public health guidance and best practices.
Anyone in the FLC facility is asked to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water frequently throughout the day, but especially at the beginning and end of their time on-site, prior to any mealtimes, and after using the toilet. Hand-sanitizer (of greater than 60% alcohol) dispensers can be used for hand hygiene in place of soap and water, as long as hands are not visibly soiled. They will be placed in high use areas and entry points.
- A poster will be located in all restrooms providing proper hand washing methods.
- Custodial staff are checking and replenishing soap dispensers, paper towels, and hand sanitizer stations at a minimum of once per day when the building is occupied, and more often in heavily trafficked public spaces
Respiratory etiquette: Cover your cough or sneeze
Everyone is asked 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. Tissues should be disposed of in the trash and individuals should wash or sanitize their hands immediately afterward. Respiratory etiquette reminders appear on posters and tissues and trash receptacles are readily available.
- The CDC “Stop the Spread of Germs” poster are posted in all lobbies and other common areas.
- Employees, when on duty, are expected to wear cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. If an Executive Order is issued with more stringent guidelines, the Executive Order will be followed. Individuals may bring their own face covering, or FLC may supply them for staff.
Everyone entering the facility is asked to practice physical distancing based on public health guidance and best practices.
Remote Work and Adjusted Onsite Hours
FLC has implemented the following procedures and practices for remote work and adjusted hours. All staff will meet with their supervisor to determine an individual plan for work location based on responsibilities and risk levels.
- Telework is allowed for all persons who can accomplish their primary duty functions from home.
- Staff are provided guidance and training as needed to work remotely.
- Equipment is available for staff members to complete their assigned responsibilities and tasks. Equipment questions should be directed to Pastor Gretchen
- Flexible hours and staggered shifts are available to minimize the number of persons in the facility at one time.
Employees will not gather in groups and in confined areas where six feet separation cannot be maintained. Employees are required to wear face coverings at all times unless they are in their personal offices or where six feet of separation is possible. If an Executive Order is issued with more stringent guidelines, the Executive Order will be followed.
Employees and visitors are prohibited from gathering in confined areas, including restrooms, kitchen/break rooms, vehicles. No more than 2 people at a time will be allowed into restrooms, kitchens/breakrooms; a minimum of six-foot distance must be maintained.
- Staff will not share office space.
- In areas where shared workspace is in use, sanitizing wipes are available to clean prior to and after use, disposing of wipes in the trash.
- Staff will avoid using anyone else’s personal protective equipment, phones, computer equipment, desks, cubicles, workstations, offices, or other personal work tools and equipment.
- Common spaces are rearranged to promote social distancing by removing extra seating and moving seating to appropriate spacing. If furniture cannot be moved, it will be marked off.
Regular housekeeping practices are being enhanced by FLC staff in accordance with CDC guidance. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting will be conducted in shared spaces and high-touch areas.
- Custodial staff is provided refresher training on proper cleaning techniques, as well as background information on COVID-19.
- All cleaning products meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements.
- If there is a confirmed positive case of an employee reported to the FLC, Pastor Gretchen will coordinate cleaning and disinfecting of that individual’s work space.
- Steve Hosch will clean high touch, public spaces at least once daily, and more frequently if deemed necessary, when the building is in use.
Screening, Exposure, and Illness Policies
FLC will notify all staff of screening protocols, self-monitoring guidelines, and policies for staff exposed or exhibiting symptoms. Staff will be notified via email and/or during the weekly staff meeting. All COVID-19 related updates will be relayed to staff via email and/or during the weekly staff meeting. The Covid Coordinator will coordinate the communication.
FLC has leave policies that encourage staff to stay at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a healthcare provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household. These policies are listed in the Personnel Handbook.
Questions on leave policies should be directed to Pastor Gretchen.
Employee Self-Screening for those Working On-Site
Information on COVID-19 signs and symptoms are available at the CDC website. Employees are required to self- assess for fever or symptoms of any type of communicable illness, and not report to the workplace when experiencing symptoms of communicable illness. Staff must follow standard procedures for reporting to their supervisor when not reporting to the workplace. Employees experiencing symptoms of illness may be allowed to work in isolation at home if requested and at the discretion of the supervisor.
If an employee begins to exhibit symptoms at work, must immediately notify their supervisor and leave the workplace. If unable to leave immediately, they will be requested to self-isolate at their desk, or in a closed meeting space, wear masks, avoid all interaction with others until they can leave the workplace. Steve Hosch will be notified immediately for additional sanitation of surfaces.
If a COVID-19 case is confirmed in a staff member or in a member of their household, the staff member will be asked to remain at home and remain isolated or quarantined for the length of time as directed by public health. A facility assessment will be conducted to determine what additional public health and cleaning measures should be implemented.
FLC will work with Otter Tail County Public Health to inform staff members if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in our facility, and Otter Tail County Public Health will provide instructions regarding staff self-quarantine measures.
Consistent with compliance with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), staff members health status and health information will be protected.
Summary of key points for employees:
- Self-monitor for fever and/or symptoms of communicable illness, and do not report to work if you or someone in your household is experiencing fever and/or symptoms. Notify your supervisor using normal procedures.
- If you experience the onset of illness while onsite during the workday, self-isolate at your workstation and leave the site as soon as safely possible. Notify your supervisor.
- Employees at medical risk for on-site work duty or have a member of their household who is at medical risk, must notify Pastor Gretchen and provide a recently-dated licensed healthcare professional’s letter stating that the employee cannot return to on-site work for medical reasons. The letter does not require any health information.
- FLC will work with local Public Health to notify employees if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the workplace.
Communications and Training
This plan is communicated with FLC employees via staff meetings and email. Updated versions will be shared in the same methods. Training is available to staff and persons using the facility by contacting Calie Anderson.
The ability to use FLC for in-person worship, ceremonies, and meetings will fluctuate throughout the year. In determining when the FLC building can be used, the Smart Team will factor in COVID19 data for Otter Tail County, local public health guidance, current State of Minnesota orders, and guidance from the NWMN Synod.
Procedures specific to the type of facility usage (meetings, ceremonies, worship, etc.) will be developed as needed by FLC staff. The Smart Team will review and approve the procedures before they are implemented. The procedures will be based on this plan’s guidelines and align with current State of Minnesota orders. Contact Calie Anderson for a copy of the procedures.
- Any usage of the facility must be scheduled with the office staff.
- Procedures will be shared when use of the facility is requested.
- Number of attendees allowed will be based on current state guidance and policies.
- It is the expectation that anyone showing any signs or symptoms of illness or having had a known exposure within the last 14 days will not attend any event at FLC.
- Attendees will maintain a physical distance minimum of 6 feet.
- Attendees will be requested to wear masks.
Any group that uses the facility while this plan is operational must agree to follow the procedure.