FBC 2020-2021 Reopening Handbook
Dear Congregants and Friends,
The Officers, Trustees, and Pastor of First Baptist Church (FBC) of Pittsfield have established a handbook of protocols for worship, ministry, committee meetings, and other activities at FBC during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The handbook provides protocols for social distancing, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), contact tracing and the cleaning and disinfection of the building. The handbook also presents requirements for the different startup phases for the Sunday Services.
The handbook and protocols were developed after prayerful deliberations and in response to the guidelines below:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
- American Baptist Churches (ABC), USA,
- American Baptist Churches (ABC) of Massachusetts,
- State recommendations via Governor Baker
- COVID-19 Employee Health; protection, guidance, and prevention (Mass.gov)
- Other federal and state resources
- FBC Reopening Committee
FBC will follow a phased startup for the Sunday Services based on the guidance listed above. Details and the requirements for the start-up phases can be found in the handbook.
Since we are a family, and family members must take care of each other, we believe that the closure and now reopening of FBC is in the best interest and safety of the church family and community during the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 virus is highly contagious and large Church gatherings can be super spreader events.
We are excited to come back together again as a church family; we ask for your continued prayers and adherence to these protocols. Please note, this is a working document; updates will be made as required. Please contact the Administrative Office with any questions regarding these protocols.
Yours in Christ,
Trustees of First Baptist Church
FBC 2020 Reopening Handbook Outline
Working Document * 16 September 2020
1) Introduction from Trustees
2) Phases for Start-Up
3) Social Distancing, PPE & Disinfecting Requirements
4) Sunday Worship Service
- Entering, Seating& Exiting the Sanctuary
- Choir and Congregational Singing
- Children’s Sermon, Chapel and Sunday School
- Coffee Hour
5) Administrative Office
- Appointments Only
- Administrative Office Plan and Practices
- Finance Office
- Media Room
6) Ministry Activities, Committee Meetings& Other Events
- Committee Meetings
- Food Pantry
- Feed My Sheep
- Fund Raisers
- Special Services
7) Child Care of the Berkshires
8) Cleaning & Disinfection of the Building
*Note: this is a working document and will change as new rules/information are discovered.
Phases for Start-Up
- After MA allows churches to open
- After FBC has written protocols for opening
- After Ushers will have a minimum of 3 people for monitoring the service
- Only 15 members allowed to attend soft opening Sunday service by invitation only
- After 3 weeks the protocols will be reviewed and an evaluation made before moving to Phase 2.
- After Protocols have been updated for revisions as needed.
- After Ushers are educated, experienced and comfortable with protocols and their responsibilities related to the protocols. A minimum of 4 Ushers must be available.
- After Staff and members concerns have been addressed
- Only 30 members will be allowed to attend Sunday service by Reservation. This may be done by email or calling the Office.
- After 3 weeks the protocols will be reviewed.
- On May 17, 2021 the CDC and Gov. Baker made changes to the mask mandate for the COVID-19 pandemic. Baker has rescinded the face-covering order that goes into effect on May 29, 2021. The Department of Public Health will issue a public health advisory effective May 29th that advises all unvaccinated residents to continue to wear a face-covering in indoor settings and when they can’t socially distance. The FBC Reopening Handbook is being updated.
Social Distancing, PPE & Disinfecting
Social distancing remains in effect as of May 19, 2021. There are no changes as of this date.
What is social distancing?
- Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people who are not from your household.
- To practice social or physical distancing, stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
- Social distancing should be practiced in combination with wearing a mask that covers your nose and mouth, do not touch your face with unwashed hands, and frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Why practice social distancing?
COVID-19 spreads mainly among people who are in close contact (within about 6 feet) for a prolonged period of time. Spread happens when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and droplets from their mouth or nose are launched into the air and land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. The droplets can also be inhaled into the lungs. Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. Since people can spread the virus before they know they are sick, it is important to stay at least 6 feet away from others when possible, even if you—or they—do not have any symptoms. Social distancing is especially important for people who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- Keep Distance at Events and Gatherings: It is safest to avoid crowded places and gatherings where it may be difficult to stay at least 6 feet away from others who are not from your household. If you are in a crowded space, try to keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others at all times, and wear a mask. Masks are especially important in times when physical distancing is difficult. Pay attention to any physical guides, such as tape markings on floors or signs on walls, directing attendees to remain at least 6 feet apart from each other in lines or at other times. Allow other people 6 feet of space when you pass by them in both indoor and outdoor settings.
- Refrain from any physical contact: no hugging, touching, kissing, ect.
PPE is no longer needed by vaccinated persons as of May 29, 2021 as per the DPH Massachusetts.
What is PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)?
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) includes an array of supplies that help to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These include eye protection (e.g. face shields), facemasks, and gloves.
- Source Control: Use of cloth face coverings or facemasks to cover a person’s mouth and nose to prevent spread of respiratory secretions when they are talking, sneezing, or coughing.
- Facemasks and cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- When cloth face coverings are not available or cannot be used, a face shield may be used as source control in a non-clinical, non-healthcare setting; through cloth face coverings are preferred.
Why it is important to wear a mask?
- A mask may not protect the wearer, but it may keep the wearer from spreading the virus to others.
- COVID-19 spreads mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks, or raises their voice (e.g., while shouting, chanting, or singing). These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Recent studies show that a significant portion of individuals with COVID-19 lack symptoms (are “asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (are “pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
- To reduce the spread of COVID-19, CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings when around people outside of their household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
- Masks may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. Wearing a mask will help protect people around you, including those at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and workers who frequently come into close contact with other people (e.g., in stores and restaurants). Masks are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings. The spread of COVID-19 can be reduced when masks are used along with other preventive measures, including social distancing; frequent hand washing, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
- The masks recommended here are not surgical masks or respirators. Currently, those are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. Masks are not personal protective equipment (PPE). They are not appropriate substitutes for PPE such as respirators (like N95 respirators) or medical facemasks (like surgical masks) in workplaces where respirators or facemasks are recommended or required to protect the wearer.
Masks with Exhalation Valves or Vents:
- The purpose of masks is to keep respiratory droplets from reaching others to aid with source control. Masks with one-way valves or vents allow exhaled air to be expelled out through holes in the material. This can allow exhaled respiratory droplets to reach others and potentially spread the COVID-19 virus. Therefore, CDC does not recommend using masks if they have an exhalation valve or vent.
What is Cleaning & Disinfection?
- Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But first removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore any risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfection works by using chemicals, for example EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. But killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
How long will Coronavirus survive on surfaces?
- COVID-19 is mainly spread by inhaling tiny droplets released when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. Large droplets can also land on surfaces.
- The COVID-19 virus does not like to live on a surface that has a lot of holes or microscopic little grooves, nooks or crannies. It likes smooth surfaces like door knobs.
- How long the COVID-19 virus lives on a surface:
- Glass – 5 days
- Wood – 4 days
- Plastic & stainless steel – 3 days
- Cardboard – 24 hours
- Cooper surfaces – 4 hours
- Please note that the amount of live virus decreases over time on surfaces. The risk of infection from touching something that had virus on it will lessen in risk over a few days or hours.
Sunday Worship Service
This protocol provides instruction for safe social distancing and the ability for contact tracing, if the need arises.
Entering, Seating & Exiting the Sanctuary
Everyone entering First Baptist Church (FBC) must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth inside of FBC at all times, until further notice as deemed necessary by Federal, State, local guidelines and FBC church officials. It is a requirement for worship. NO EXCEPTIONS. If a person does not have a mask upon entrance into FBC, a disposable one will be provided.
- May 29, 2021 – Gov. Baker rescinded the Commonwealth’s face-covering order. This is in effect for those who have had their COVID vaccine. If you are unvaccinated, you need to continue to wear your mask at FBC.
- If you are unvaccinated and unable to wear a mask properly, please worship with us via Facebook Livestream or PCTV.
- All worshippers must enter the front door. If you are not able to manage the front steps, you may enter the bank-side door via the handicap ramp.
- Your temperature will be taken via touch less thermometer to your forehead by the Ushers. If your temperature is greater than 99.9 you will not be allowed to enter the Sanctuary or stay for service.
- You will be asked to sign the seating chart as to where you are sitting. This allows FBC the ability for contact tracing if needed.
- Worship Service bulletins will be emailed each Friday. It is encouraged that you print your copy and bring it with you to the service.
- A limited number of bulletins will be available upon entering the church.
- Ushers will direct worshippers into the sanctuary.
- Some pews will be roped off prohibiting entry.
- Families will be allowed to sit together.
- Individual worshippers will be seated as per social distancing recommendations, 6 feet apart.
- The Ushers will direct worshippers to exit the Sanctuary after the service via the door they entered.
- Please take your bulletin and any other debris when you leave the Sanctuary and dispose of in a designated receptacle in the Narthex or take it home.
- There will be no gatherings in the church prior to or following the service.
Choir and Congregational Singing:
Public health officials consider singing to be a “super-spreader” of COVID-19. Particle emission is correlated with the amplitude of vocalization – or loudness- so singing releases more particles that other types of speech or breathing. It even spreads the virus more than coughing. As such, FBC will adopt the following procedures as it relates to worship music:
- There will be NO congregational singing. Hymnals will be removed from the Sanctuary.
- Choir rehearsals and choir participation in our worship service will be suspended for the foreseeable future.
- Singers and Instrumentalists will be utilized during each worship service. Unless from the same household, musicians will maintain at least 6 feet distance from each other, facing the same direction.
- Unless other arrangements are made, rehearsal time with our pianist will be at 9am on Sunday morning. As additional rehearsals are introduced, those will be held in the Sanctuary.
- Singers and wind instruments will be located a minimum or 27 feet from all Congregants.
- Any music stands, microphones, pianos, and all other non-personal equipment utilized will be isolated for 7 days before it is used again.
- For children between the age of 2 and 5, the wearing of a mask is at the discretion of the child’s parent or guardian.
- Children will remain with their parents or guardians for the entire worship service including the Children’s Sermon.
- There will not be any Children’s Sunday school until further notice.
- Children’s Chapel is on-line after the service until further notice.
- The Offering collection plate will be on a table in the Narthex.
- Please place your offering in this plate as you exit after the service.
- You may continue to mail in your offering if preferred.
- Diaconate members will package Gluten Free bread and juice containers in individualized plastic bags to be picked up upon entering the Sanctuary.
- Please place the empty juice container back into the plastic bag and dispose of it in a designated receptacle when you leave the Sanctuary.
- Until further notice, there will not be a coffee hour fellowship time after worship services.
Adult Sunday school:
- Classes will continue via on-line until further notice.
- ONLY bathrooms on the main floor may be used. NO ONE MAY USE THE BATHROOMS ON THE LOWER LEVEL OF THE BUILDING.
Purpose: This protocol provides direction for social distancing for the safety of the administrative personnel and visitors.
- All parties must wear face coverings and abide by social distancing practices. The exception is that the staff may use their discretion with the use of face masks in their work environment when there are no visitors present.
- The Administrative Office is closed at this time for walk-in visits.
- Office business is to be conducted via phone or email as much as possible.
- Wash hands before and after the use of computer keyboards.
- If a visit to the Office is necessary, please call to make an appointment during Office Hours.
- This Office closure includes Sunday mornings as well; no socializing shall take place in the Office.
- This office may be used by the Treasurer, Assistant Treasurer, Co-Collectors, and Auditors
- Collectors will use the office and the Collector’s Computer on Monday for counting and posting. There will be no counting on Sunday until the church is fully open.
- Treasurers will use the office and the Treasurer’s computer on Wednesday for all other financial activities.
- A maximum of 2 people may be working in the office at the same time.
- Any meeting of more than 2 people should be held outside of the office.
- Wash hands before and after the use of computer keyboards.
- This area may be used by Media Personnel, Pastor, and Sexton.
- A maximum of 6 people may be working in the Media Room at the same time,
- When Media Personnel leave the Media Room, they need to wear a mask.
Purpose: This protocol provides instruction for safe social distancing and the ability for contact tracing, if the need arises.
- All meetings must follow the guidelines as outlined and remain for wearing masks and socially distanced when meeting at the church.
- Meetings can only be held in the Assembly Hall where there is room to distance by setting up tables and or chairs six feet apart.
- Attendance record must be kept and given to the Office for tracing purposes if necessary.
- Call the church office to schedule the Assembly Hall for all meetings.
- Packages for distribution will continue to be prepared in advance.
- Clients will pick up the food at the North side entrance – one person at a time, who must be wearing a mask.
- No one may enter the building.
Feed My Sheep (FMS):
- Meals served in the Assembly Hall are suspended until further notice.
- Team members must wear a mask while in the building.
- The FMS teams will prepare meals to go and distribute them at the North side door.
- One person at a time, who must be wearing a mask, will pick up the prepared meal.
- NO ONE OTHER THAN THE TEAM MEMBERS ARE ALLOWED TO ENTER THE BUILDING.
- If the meals to go are prepared at the church, teams must follow the guidelines for disinfecting the counter surfaces before and after preparing food. ServSafe Guidelines pertaining to hand washing and wearing gloves must be followed when handling food that will not be cooked.
- The appropriate cleaning agents and hand sanitizer will be available.
- Any food that is prepared to serve to the public must be pick-up only.
- All rules listed above apply to food that is prepared at the church.
- Fund Raisers can only be held after consultation with the Board of Trustees.
All food is prepared and cooked in FBC kitchen following ServSafe Guidelines.
- Only those who have coordinated with the chef in advance to help with the dinner are allowed in the kitchen.
- When a dinner is being prepared and served, there will be no access to the Church through the parking lot kitchen door.
Assembly Hall Set-Up:
- Table in front of person taking money
- Hand sanitizer is available at the end of the money table
- Tables are placed where meals will be picked up – separated
- Tables are covered with disposable tablecloths
- Area for workers is taped off
- All workers are wearing face masks
- All workers handling food are wearing gloves
Food Order Pick-Up:
- Everyone picking up meals has been told to wear a face mask or face covering when getting their meals
- Workers have been together and are a safe “Bubble”
- Those cooking and packaging the hot food stay in the kitchen
- One person takes money (cash or check)
- After paying, the person is told where to pick-up their dinners or where to wait socially distanced from others
- Only two workers go into the kitchen and bring the packaged dinners to the Assembly Hall
- Meals are bagged (bags bought special for dinners) in the Assembly Hall and then brought to the tables and given to the people to take home
- The kitchen and Assembly Hall are cleaned as specified by the FBC Protocols
- Baptisms, Wedding, Funerals, and other special services can only be held after discussion and detailed plans are developed. A final decision will be made by the Pastor and Board of Trustees.
Norman Rockwell Childcare of the Berkshires
Purpose: Provides instruction for safe social distancing.
- The Norman Rockwell Childcare Center is a tenant of FBC.
- Due to strict state guidelines, NO ONE from FBC is allowed downstairs.
- If guidelines are NOT followed, this is a liability for the Center and FBC.
- If a FBC staff person/congregant must go downstairs, the Administrative Office must be contacted and will then contact the director of the Center.
- Once approved to go downstairs, a mask MUST be worn, and all touched surfaces MUST be cleaned by the individual. Child care areas are still required to wear face-coverings as of May 17, 2021.
First Baptist Church (FBC): Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocol
Purpose: This protocol provides instruction on the cleaning and disinfection of First Baptist Church (FBC), Pittsfield, Massachusetts. These guidelines are for the use of our Sexton, Office Personnel and those who use the facilities for gatherings not related to worship. The following information is from CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities and BOSTON PUBLIC HEALTH COMMISSION GUIDANCE: Cleaning & Disinfecting to Prevent COVID-19.
Cleaning refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs. But first removing the germs, it decreases their number and therefore any risk of spreading infection.
Disinfection works by using chemicals, for example EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. But killing germs remaining on a surface after cleaning further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
Clean first – Disinfect second
Protect Yourself to Protect Others:
- Wear gloves
- Masks are not needed unless you are working in a confined space
- Wash your hands frequently-before beginning work, after completing a room, before and after a break
- Cleaning Products allowed by FBC
- Dawn Dish Soap
- Further products to be selected
- Disinfecting Products:
- Clorox Bleach solution: 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water or 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water
- Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours
- Micro cloth dusting mops and wet mops
- Color coded micro cloths:
- Green for cleaning the kitchen
- Yellow for cleaning the bathroom
- Red for dusting
- Blue for DISINFECTING ONLY
Clean first – Disinfect second
Allow Proper Dwell Time:
- One of the keys to disinfecting is dwell or contact time.
- Make sure the surface remains visibly wet for the full recommended contact time.
- Clorox recommends a 5 minute contact time for bleach solution. The surface that has been cleaned and then wiped with the bleach solution needs to remain wet for 5 minutes before being wiped and air dried.
- It is not effective to take a wipe and run it across door knobs or light switches.
To kill viruses on surfaces:
- Spray your micro cloth with the disinfectant solution until the cloth is saturated, not dripping.
- Wipe the surface until wet, leave wet for five minutes and then let air dry
Sexton Cleaning & Disinfecting Schedule:
- Walk through entire building
- First floor bathrooms (Disinfect & Trash)
- Kitchen (Disinfect & Trash)
- Church Office (Disinfect & Trash)
- Sanctuary, North Door (Disinfect)
- Sanctuary (Lock up this area after cleaning. Not to be opened again until next service.)
- Assembly Hall
- Treasurer’s Office
- Church Office
- Philathea Room
- Media Room
- Pastor’s Quiet Office
- Sunday School Room
- Open & Close the Church Building
- Disinfect Door Knobs: Doors that enter the building, Sanctuary, Office, Treasurer’s Office