At this time, FPC’s buildings are closed, and we will hold no indoor worship services through at least the end of our fiscal year, June 30, 2021. FPC has assembled a COVID Planning Task Force, which has developed protocols and guidelines for holding other types of FPC-related events. Please continue reading below for more details.
Updated: November 30, 2020
To our members and friends:
The health and safety of the members and friends of the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton (FPC) are of the highest priority when determining whether and how to have physically close events either on the campus or off-site during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is becoming clearer that the major source of contagion is through tiny droplets known as aerosols that we expel every time we breathe, and even more so when we talk and even worse when we sing, blow noses, or sneeze. These aerosols float in the air and can last for several hours, blown about by the air circulation paths. The potential for contagion increases when large groups gather - even if masked, and even more so when groups gather indoors, and yet even more so when indoor gatherings are longer than 15 minutes.
Many standard worship service practices are especially dangerous, particularly indoors. They include greeting our neighbor, talking loudly and continuously or with projection (such as preaching), sharing a microphone at Joys and Sorrows, and, particularly, singing. Singing is, very sadly, a “superspreader” activity. All of these make worship a very dangerous activity to do indoors.
In addition, we are a church, a faith community. Because of our population, which has a relatively high proportion of at-risk people compared with the rest of the population, and because of our level of concern for each other, our assessment of risk needs to be more conservative than the general population.
Therefore, until a vaccine is widely available, or the threat of contagion has disappeared, FPC’s buildings are closed, and we will not hold indoor worship services through at least the end of our fiscal year, June 30, 2021. This includes Sunday morning RE classes and our Music programs.
However, we recognize that for various reasons, people may need to congregate indoors at FPC. Further, we recognize that some activities can occur outdoors on the FPC campus. Finally, we acknowledge the desire for people to see each other at FPC-related events off campus. Indeed, we can learn from experiences in the general population where well-managed events can occur with relatively low attendant risk (for example, theatre activities in the Acton-Boxborough schools). Such events can provide a relatively safe outlet for those who wish to gather together, while acknowledging that no such gatherings can be deemed to be absolutely safe. To meet these needs, FPC has assembled a COVID Planning Task Force, which has developed protocols and guidelines for different types of FPC-related events.
Update as of January 14, 2021: Several respected sources around the country have provided good information about the COVID vaccines, especially for those who are confused by the myths that have hit the public airwaves. Please click on the following link from the Cleveland Clinic to find out more about the vaccines and related myths: 8 Common Covid-19 Vaccine Myths Explained
On-site events: If you would like to plan to use an area inside FPC’s buildings or on FPC grounds (or some combination), please use the following process.
- Review the Protocols and documents, found in the Documents and Links section below, relative to your event. There are two documents, one for using the buildings at FPC, and one for only using the grounds at FPC.
- Review all the videos showing various safety protocols.
- At least 10 days before the event, make a request to the FPC COVID Planning Task Force through Katy Weeks at email@example.com. Your request must include all the information required by the applicable Protocol depending on whether the event is outdoors or inside the buildings.
- Once your event is approved, each participant must sign the FPC Waiver Form, as recommended by our insurance company.
- Each participant must also review the appropriate Protocol prior to the event.
- Prior to each time a participant attends an event, the participant must review the Self Assessment form.
- Prior to each time a participant attends an in-building event, they must sign a Contact Tracing Form upon entering the building. There are two locations for these forms. One is on a table just outside the entry to the Fellowship Hall. The other is on a table just to the right of the entry to the Vestry.
Off-site events: If you would like to schedule an off-site FPC event, please review the recommendations in the document “FPC Off-Site Covid-Era Event Policy”. Prior to each time each participant attends an event, we recommend they review the Self-Assessment form.
Documents and Links
A summary of documents and links are shown below.
- Protocol for using FPC buildings during the pandemic
- Protocol for using FPC grounds during the pandemic
- Guidelines for FPC-related off-site activities such as walks, meetups, and fulfillment of our Auction offerings
- Videos and documents of safety measures referenced in the guidelines and protocols, such as mask wearing, social distancing, using the FPC bathroom, hand-washing, and airflow
- Waiver Form for use within FPC grounds and buildings
- Contact Tracing Form (to be filled out when inside the building – not an online document)
- Self-Assesment Form to review before physically attending each FPC event
- COVID in the Air Summary for FPC
- Websites providing further information on the COVID-19 pandemic
- Massachusetts COVID-19 Daily Dashboard
- Centers for Disease Control Main COVID-19 website
- Centers for Disease Control "How to Protect Yourself & Others"
- Canada's Ministry of Health "How to Wear a Mask"
- San Fransisco DPH Instructions on "How to Put on and Remove a Face Mask"
- Northeastern University's page on "How to be Safe & Resilient"
|Wearing a Mask|
If you have any comments or questions regarding these guidelines, please contact Katy Weeks via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.