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Proposed Building Use 2021

WHEN WILL SPC REOPEN THE BUILDING?

There is no predictable timeline for when the Covid-19 pandemic will subside completely, and we are likely to see dips and spikes even as the vaccine becomes more widely available. Restrictions may loosen and/or tighten multiple times before we are able to gather as we did at the beginning of 2020.

In order to respond to ongoing developments, our gathering decisions should be considered “until further notice.”  For this reason, the Session is choosing to share the criteria we are using to determine when to allow or restrict group church activities.

CRITERIA FOR GATHERINGS

Throughout the pandemic, we have been listening closely to the guidance provided by county, state and national health departments, as well as the recommendations of leaders in the denomination and presbytery.

Over the past several months, the science has become clear.  Covid-19 is an airborne virus; the greatest concern is with the exchange of particles that infected people expel as they breathe, talk, sing, etc.  The risk of sharing the virus is minimized when

  • People (or household groups) remain 6+ feet apart
  • Everyone wears a mask over nose and mouth
  • Good hand hygiene is followed (regular use of sanitizer or washing)
  • Groups gather outside rather than inside
  • Inside gatherings are kept short (15 minutes is best, 30 minutes is ok, max 1 hour)
  • Inside gatherings are kept smaller based on the persistence of community spread.

DATA WILL HELP US DETERMINE HOW MANY CAN GATHER INDOORS

Trendlines  (7-day and 14-day rolling totals) are the most helpful for seeing what is happening in the community. In particular new cases and the percent of positive cases in Brunswick County. 

The most current trends in new case count is available on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Covid Dashboard https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard 

Percent positive is available by county is kept current on the NCDHHS Testing dashboard.  https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/testing

The chart below will serve as a guide for session as they consider what size groups and which events can be held on campus. 

GATHERING GUIDELINES

BASED ON 14-DAY TOTALS IN BRUNSWICK COUNTY

Caution Level14-day new cases Per 100,000Percent positive testsIndoor Gatherings Allowed
Very High>550 cases>10% positiveNo gatherings
High200 to 550 cases<10% positiveGroups of 10 or fewer
Moderate20 to 199 cases5-10% positiveGroups of 25 or fewer
Low<20 cases<5% positiveLarger gatherings may be permitted

Some additional considerations could tip the balance in considering any particular gathering:

  • Is this a mission purpose that can only be served in person?
  • How many participants are likely to have underlying health factors that make them more vulnerable to the worst complications of Covid, including death?
  • What factors make this gathering more or less safe, such as location, activity, or duration?
  • Does the room requested have sufficient space for participants to maintain physical distance?

These guidelines will apply to all SPC groups, committees and activities, as well as community groups that we have partnered with prior to the pandemic. 

In addition to the group size restrictions, we are asking all group participants to observe  the following safety measures:

  • Do not participate if you are sick or may have been exposed to the coronavirus within the last 14 days
  • Wear a mask and/or face shield throughout your gathering
  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Maintain 6 feet of physical distance from other participants
  • No singing or shouting
  • No food or drink
  • Notify the church immediately if you learn that you may have been exposed during 14 days prior to this meeting.
  • Meet only in the designated room
  • Arrange chairs to maximize physical distance (6 foot minimum)
  • Limit gatherings to no longer than 1 hour
  • Provide the church with name and contact information for every participant in every gathering. For “anonymous” groups, this information may be kept in a sealed envelope to be opened if needed. SPC will hold this information for one month from the date of the meeting.

What does this mean for worship, specifically?

In-person worship gathers our largest groups to participate in some of the riskiest activities: singing, sharing Communion, passing the peace, etc.  Any return to worship will include significant modifications.  

While the risk remains high, it makes sense to prioritize mission, education, and small-group fellowship for in-person gatherings that can happen virtually, outdoors, or off-campus.

The session will be monitoring the data, praying for the risk to move low enough to allow for volunteers and worshippers to gather in the sanctuary.

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