Updated: July 5, 2020
This plan is a working and evolving document intended to support the efforts to create a safe environment and an effective process for the reopening of the Saint Katherine Parish and the return to in-person communal worship and re-connection of the faithful.
The return to the full participation of our worship and services will be a progression. This will be governed by evidenced containment of the coronavirus within our community and the Saint Katherine Parish’s ability to demonstrate it has implemented effective safety measures and practices.
The procedures, plans, and approaches within this document are based upon guidance from local and state jurisdictions as well as from the Metropolis and Archdiocese. Progression through easing further restrictions will be determined by the Parish Council and Father. If the Parish Council and/or Father is not confident that the Saint Katherine Parish is ready to progress, and upon consultation with the Metropolis, we will not progress further until additional preparations, adjustments, and/or safeguards are implemented and documented.
Anywhere in this document that the word “staff” is used, refers to all clergy, any paid or unpaid worker, volunteer, Parish Council member, employee, or independent contractor.
This document is effective from the date given above until all California and Sacramento County Stay-at-Home orders are entirely lifted or a newer version is approved by the Parish Council. See Procedure for Changes to this Plan Section for details on how a newer version is approved.
The Saint Katherine Parish Council has established specific roles to ensure a safe environment for our parishioners/visitors. These are in accordance with the Reopening Parish Readiness Roles given by the Metropolis.
Parish Reopening Lead
Lead: James Scaife
- Active parishioner, well regarded and with excellent understanding of parish life.
- Coordinates Saint Katherine’s reopening preparation and readiness.
- Either a member of the Parish Council, or, if not, is selected by the Priest and Parish Council to lead readiness efforts on behalf of the parish.
- Works closely, and in cooperation, with Priest and Parish Council; has no spending authority, but can make recommendations for expenditures, as necessary.
- Selects Section Leaders in order to complete the “Readiness Checklist” as given by the Metropolis.
- Ensures implementation of all “Readiness Checklist” items.
Parish Health Officer
Lead: Dina Scordakis
- Ideally, a Medical or Public Health Professional. If parish does not have such an individual, it can contact another parish within the same county and request that parish represent both parishes. If no other parish is available, the role can be assumed by either the Readiness Lead or a member of the Parish Council.
- Communicates and develops rapport with local Public Health Department, as necessary (discussion guide / tips to be provided by Metropolis Parish Support).
- Communicates with Parish Health Officers from parishes within the same county in order to coordinate communications with our local Public Health Department.
- Position does not provide medical advice to any parishioners.
- Keeps abreast of case counts and trends within our local county.
- Ensures those entering the Church for worship services provide contact tracing information.
- Could also assume role of Section Leader on Health and Safety Readiness Checklist.
Regulatory Compliance Section Lead
Lead: James Scaife
- Responsible for the overall readiness of the regulatory compliance section, including any preparation, set up, implementation or issue resolution.
Liturgical Practices and Worship Section Lead
Lead: James Scaife
- Responsible for the overall readiness of the liturgical practices and worship section, including any preparation, set up, implementation or issue resolution.
Health and Safety Section Lead
Lead: Dina Scordakis
- Responsible for the overall readiness of the health and safety section, including any preparation, set up, implementation or issue resolution.
Communication Section Lead
Lead: Maria Aliferis-Gjerde
- Responsible for the overall readiness of the communication section, including any preparation, set up, implementation or issue resolution.
Leaders, Greeters, and Volunteers Section Lead
Lead: Melanie Hatzakos
- Responsible for the overall readiness of the leaders, greeters, and volunteers section, including any preparation, set up, implementation or issue resolution.
Volunteer Training Topics
All volunteers involved in the reopening of the Church shall be trained in the following topics:
- Information on COVID-19, how to prevent it from spreading, and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus.
- Self-screening at home, including temperature and/or symptom checks using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
- The importance of not coming to Church or participating in activities if clergy or volunteer staff have symptoms of COVID-19 as described by the CDC, such as a frequent cough, fever, difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, recent loss of taste or smell, or if they or someone they live with have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- To seek medical attention if their symptoms become severe, including persistent pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, or bluish lips or face. Updates and further details are available on CDC’s webpage (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html).
- The importance of frequent handwashing with soap and water, including scrubbing with soap for 20 seconds (or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol when clergy or volunteer cannot get to a sink or handwashing station, per CDC guidelines).
- The importance of physical distancing, both at Church and away.
- Proper use of face coverings, including:
- Face coverings do not protect the wearer and are not personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Face coverings can help protect people near the wearer, but do not replace the need for physical distancing and frequent handwashing.
- Face coverings must cover the nose and mouth.
- Wash or sanitize hands before and after using or adjusting face coverings.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Reusable face coverings should be washed, and single-use face coverings safely disposed of after each shift.
- Cleaning supply directions and Cal/OSHA requirements for safe use. Volunteers using cleaners or disinfectants should wear gloves or other protective equipment as required by the product instructions.
- How to communicate and show empathy to those who may not be allowed to participate in services.
Individual Control Measures and Screening
The following control measures and screening will be performed:
- Temperature and/or symptom screenings for all clergy and other staff before each service. Make sure the temperature/symptom screener avoids close contact with the screened person to the maximum extent possible. Both the screener and screened person should wear face coverings for the screening.
- Encourage all who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or who have family/household members who are ill, to stay home.
- Clergy and other staff shall use all required protective equipment, including eye protection and gloves, where necessary.
- Consider where disposable glove use may be helpful to supplement frequent handwashing or use of hand sanitizer; for example, by staff who are screening others for symptoms or handling commonly touched items.
- All staff should wear gloves when handling items contaminated by body fluids.
- Face coverings are required when staff are in the vicinity of others.
- Non-clergy staff shall have face coverings available and wear them when in Church. Face coverings must not be shared.
- Clergy shall have face coverings available and wear them when making home visits as part of providing services, or in a vehicle during work-related travel with others. Face coverings must not be shared.
- Clergy and other staff should not enter the home or visit someone who has tested positive for, exhibited symptoms of, or has been in contact with someone infected with, COVID-19, for an appropriate waiting period as described by CDC guidelines.
- Post signage in strategic and highly-visible locations, to remind parishioners and visitors that they should use face coverings and practice physical distancing whenever possible. Babies and children under age two should not wear face coverings, in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Use social media, website, texts, email, newsletters, conventional mail, etc., to communicate the steps being taken to protect parishioners, visitors and staff so that they are familiar with the policies (including to stay home if experiencing symptoms or are at increased risk of becoming sick, face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing and/or sanitizing, and cough etiquette), before arriving to Church. Clergy and other staff are strongly encouraged to remind parishioners and visitors of these practices with announcements during services or on welcoming guests.
- Parishioners and visitors will be screened for temperature and/or symptoms upon arrival at the Church and asked to use hand sanitizer and to wear face coverings. If someone has a condition where they cannot use a face mask, they are likely part of the at-risk group that should stay home.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols
The following are the protocols for cleaning and disinfecting the Church:
- Thoroughly clean high traffic areas such as the narthex, nave, Sunday School room, offices, and areas of ingress and egress including handrails. Frequently disinfect commonly used surfaces including doorknobs, toilets, handwashing facilities, pulpits and podiums, donation boxes or plates, digital systems (e.g., Square register), and pews and seating areas.
- Sharing items used in worship and services (such as prayer books) is discouraged whenever possible. Single-use or digital copies will be provided or parishioners/visitors are to bring personal items instead. Never share PPE or other facial coverings.
- Items that must be shared shall be disinfected between each use including the following: shared office equipment (copiers, fax machines, printers, telephones, keyboards, staplers, etc.) and items in shared worship, etc., with a cleaner appropriate for the surface.
- Ensure that sanitary facilities stay operational and stocked at all times and provide additional soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer when needed. Use signage to reinforce handwashing.
- Install hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless whenever possible, at entrances and contact areas such as the narthex.
- Use cleaning supplies approved for use against COVID-19 that are on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved list, and follow product instructions. Use disinfectants labeled to be effective against emerging viral pathogens, diluted household bleach solutions (5 tablespoons per gallon of water), or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol that are appropriate for the surface.
- Passing offering trays that move between people will be discontinued. Offer alternative giving options, such as drop boxes, that do not require opening/closing and can be cleaned and disinfected, and/or digital systems that allow parishioners/visitors to make touch-free offerings (i.e., Square), in the narthex.
Physical Distancing Plan
The following plan for physical distancing will be enforced:
- We will continue to provide live stream services on YouTube.
- In-person meetings and services are provided outside of regular, congregational services whenever possible.
- Measures are taken to ensure physical distancing of at least six feet between clergy, other staff, and parishioners/visitors. This includes visual cues (e.g., floor or pew markings or signs to indicate where people should sit and stand) and the reconfiguration of seating and standing areas to maintain physical distancing of six feet or more between parishioners/visitors from different households. Members of the same household may be seated together but should maintain at least six feet of distance from other households. There will be no congregating in the office area, Sunday School rooms, cry room, or Narthex.
- Staff/ushers will help people maintain distances during activities/services.
- A reservation system will be used to limit the number of parishioners/visitors attending services at a time. See the Reservation System Section for details.
- Coffee/Fellowship hour and other gatherings are temporarily suspended.
- Children should remain in the care of those in their household unit and not interact with children of other parties at any time while visiting Church. All children’s ministries, including Sunday School and the Greek Dance program, are temporarily suspended.
- Parishioners/visitors are encouraged to physically distance themselves from others outside their household, avoid touching surfaces, and to leave the facility if they do not feel well.
- Parishioners/visitors are encouraged to leave immediately following the services and keep physical distance as they leave.
- Limit touching for religious and/or cultural purposes, such as holding hands, to members of the same household.
- Icons, the blessing of the cross, and other sacred vessels should be venerated without physical contact. Veneration should only be done by bowing and making the Sign of the Cross.
- Staff will direct parishioners and visitors upon entry to the Church. These staff will help people find places to sit and stand that are at least six feet apart from other guests/household groups. Parishioners and visitors are asked to arrive and leave in with their household group to minimize crossflow of people.
- Doors will be propped or held open during peak periods when parishioners and visitors are entering and exiting the Church, when possible and in accordance with security and safety protocols.
- Public drinking water fountains will be turned off, with signs placed informing everyone that they are inoperable.
- Use of the Sunday School room and office area will be restricted during services.
- The number of clergy, other staff, and/or parishioners/visitors in the office, meeting spaces, etc., will be limited. This may require scheduling (e.g. staggering start/end times) when feasible.
- Self-service item selection such as pamphlet displays and bookshelves are closed and parishioners/visitors may request them individually as necessary. Items and information are available electronically from our web site.
- Clergy, other staff, and parishioners/visitors are discouraged from engaging in handshakes, hugs, and similar greetings that break physical distance. Staff will remind people to wave or use other greetings.
- Support for non-in person attendance of services and other related activities by those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 including older adults and those with co-morbidities, as well as those unable to make a reservation, will continue.
- Antidoron will be distributed by clergy with a gloved hand in a safe, individual manner that precludes physical contact.
We ask all parishioners and visitors to adhere to the following when attending Church:
- Parishioners/visitors entering the Church consent to the rules and procedures given in the Parish Reopening Plan. They also attest, to the best of their knowledge, to not being sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, or having a household member who is ill.
- Parishioners/visitors who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (65 years or older, have underlying medical conditions, been exposed to the virus, or are experiencing symptoms) are strongly encouraged by the CDC and the Metropolis to refrain from attending services in person until the restrictions are lifted. It is also encouraged to keep young children from attending in person especially children younger than 2 years old for they cannot wear a mask.
- All parishioners/visitors are asked to make a reservation to ensure that they will be able to attend a given service. Seating will be limited due to physical distancing requirements and there is no guarantee of available seating without a reservation. If there is no available space, then the parishioner(s)/visitor(s) will be asked to return home.
- A staging area in front of the Church will be set up for all parishioners/visitors (even those without a reservation) to check in and be screened prior to entering the Church. All parishioners/visitors not passing the screening (e.g., temperature too high) will be asked to return home. Names and phone numbers will be recorded for contact tracing.
- As part of the health screening, all parishioners’ and visitors’ temperatures will be taken prior to entry. Parishioners/visitors with a temperature of over 100°F will be asked to return home. In addition, if a parishioner or visitor is coughing, sniffling, or has any other noticeable symptom of COVID-19, they will be asked to return home. Parishioners and visitors are asked to please self-monitor their conditions prior to arriving at the Church.
- Face masks will be required before entering the Church and should be worn before approaching the staging area. Parishioners/visitors are encouraged to bring their own. Washable face masks are permitted. A face mask can be provided by the Church (a donation is appreciated in return). The face mask must be must be worn the entire service. If you have a medical condition such as asthma that will not allow you to wear a mask, then we ask that you follow the CDC guideline to avoid crowds, and please stay home.
- Parishioners and visitors will only be allowed into the Church once they clear the screening process.
- Once in the Narthex, candles, stewardship, and any other donations can be made either through touchless stations via Square, or through a payment drop box. Donations and other payments can also be made prior to visiting, via web site. Volunteers will light the purchased candles for parishioners/visitors.
- Staff will direct parishioners and visitors to their seats. Once directed to a given seat, parishioners/visitors are asked not to change seats.
- People from the same household can sit together and will not be separated.
- Staff will escort parishioners/visitors by row at the end of the service in order to receive antidoron. Parishioners/visitors will proceed to the center aisle when escorted, and wait on the marked “X”s on the floor, for their turn to receive from Father, allowing proper social distancing.
- After receiving antidoron, parishioners/visitors will proceed exiting the east side door (i.e., to their left from the center aisle). Gathering outside of the door is not permitted. Parishioners/visitors are asked to call or email to make a specific appointment with Father instead of talking after services.
- Child acolytes serving in the altar is temporarily suspended. An adult volunteer will instead serve in the altar during services.
- Choir is temporarily suspended. A single chanter will serve during services.
- The Regulatory Compliance Section Lead will work with the Sacramento County Department of Public Heath to assess and determine what and when adjustments to the allowed attendance are to be made. The Communication Section Lead will ensure that adjustments will be communicated to the Parish.
- All renting of the Church, the hall, and other spaces and equipment are temporarily suspended. Church facilities shall only be visited by clergy, other staff, and parishioners/visitors attending religious services, or related religious activities with clergy.
As mentioned, all parishioners/visitors wanting to attend a given service will need to make a reservation in order to maximize the number of attendees, and to attempt to ensure that no one who shows up for a service is denied. Reservations can be made for a single person or a household which includes people from a single home/residence, or arriving in a single vehicle. The Church will only be allowed a maximum of 75 parishioners/visitors due to state guidelines. However, social distancing must still be observed, therefore we may be limited to less than 75 people,if there are many individuals attending. The following system will be used:
- Reservations are made only over the telephone. No online, texting, or other options are available.
- Reservations can only be made starting at 9 AM three days before the scheduled service until 5 PM on a first come, first served basis. If seating is still available, reservations will be taken the following day (i.e., two days before the scheduled service) from 9 AM to 5 PM. For example, for a Sunday Divine Liturgy, reservations will start on Thursday at 9 AM.
- It may be necessary when making a reservation to leave a message on the reservation system voicemail. Please leave your name, phone number, and number of people in the household planning to attend. Your reservation is not confirmed (i.e., you cannot attend) until a member from the Church has contacted you back to confirm your appointment. (Note, not all who leave a message will be able to get a reservation.)
- When making a reservation, parishioners/visitors will be asked for their contact information including their name and phone number. This is to streamline the check-in process when they arrive. Information for all parishioners/visitors in the household who are planning to attend (not just the person making the reservation) will be required.
- Parishioners/visitors with a reservation are required to be on time for the service. The Church will be open 30 minutes before the start of service (e.g., 9:30 AM for Sunday Divine Liturgy). To avoid disruptions, we will only seat parishioners/visitors up to 10 minutes past the start of the service (e.g., 10:10 AM for Sunday Divine Liturgy – before the time of the Epistle Reading). Please allow time for screening as no one shall enter until their screening is completed.
- Parishioners/visitors from the same household must all arrive and enter the Church at the same time.
- Parishioners/visitors may not attend two Sunday Divine Liturgy services in a row due to the reduced seating capacity of the Church during this time. Parishioners/visitors are not limited from attending other services besides Sunday Liturgy Services. These other services also do not count toward any limits on attending Sunday Divine Liturgies. However, a reservation will still be necessary.
Individual Sacrament and Service Plans
Below are additional measures, protocols, and/or plans for specific, individual sacraments and services.
- Clergy and the adult acolyte will wear masks when Holy Communion is being administered to the parishioners/visitors.
- Staff will escort parishioners/visitors by row when it is time to receive Holy Communion. Parishioners/visitors will proceed to the center aisle when escorted, and wait on the marked “X”s on the floor, for their turn to receive Holy Communion.
- Parishioners/visitors will receive Holy Communion from the base of the soleas, negating the need for physical assistance up the steps.
- Parishioners/visitors should not touch or hold the Communion cloth. The adult acolyte will hold this in place without touching the parishioner/visitor.
- Funerals may take place in the Church, funeral home, or gravesite, in accordance with local authorities.
- Proper social distancing will be followed at the Church, funeral home, and/or gravesite. The items in the Physical Distancing Plan Section will be followed when funerals are held at the Church.
- Baptisms are temporarily suspended by order of the Metropolis.
- Weddings are temporarily suspended by order of the Metropolis.
Contact Notification Procedure
The following procedure will be used if we receive notification that anyone has been diagnosed with COVID-19 within two weeks of their attendance at Saint Katherine:
- We will call those who attended the same service to notify them of the exposure, and of their need to self-quarantine for at least two weeks from date of exposure.
- Anyone who attended the same service will be assumed to be in self-quarantine for two weeks, and may not return until their quarantine period has ended, without symptoms or a positive test. (Note, the clergy and other essential staff who are in attendance will also have to self-quarantine and will not be able to attend services for two weeks.)
- If a notified attendee experiences symptoms, or has a positive test, they may not return until two additional weeks of quarantine have passed and they are either without symptoms, or have had two more tests with a negative result. If any attendee does experience symptoms, they are encouraged to contact their medical professional.
Procedure for Changes to this Plan
The Parish Council and leads (as noted in the Reopening Roles Section) will use the following procedure when there are modifications made to the Reopening Plan:
- The Parish Council will hold an official meeting to discuss and approve the necessary changes.
- Every reasonable effort will be made to ensure that the meeting(s) to discuss the changes will have all leads, as given in the Reopening Roles Section, in attendance (especially those not Parish Council Members).
- The meeting(s) will be posted (with agenda) and others interested may attend. Notification is requested, though not required.
- The updated Plan will be formally voted on by the Parish Council members, for approval.