FPC COVID Guidelines and Protocols

At this time, FPC’s buildings are open to approved people and groups. Depending on the progress of the pandemic, we plan to resume indoor worship services beginning with our Ingathering on September 12, 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: June 21, 2021


Introduction

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.

While our doors were closed during our regular church year through June 12, 2021, FPC’s buildings are now open on a limited basis. Depending on the progress of the pandemic, we plan to resume indoor worship services beginning with our Ingathering on September 12, 2021.

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. The Task Force is continually monitoring the arc of the pandemic in Massachusetts to inform us as to what protocols are suitable to meet the needs of our members for both safety and community.

Update as of June 11, 2021: Please see the information below regarding our current practices. In addition, 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

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.

  1. Review the Protocols and documents, found in the Documents and Links section below, relative to your event. There is one document that covers indoor and outdoor use of our facilities, the FPC COVID Update June 11, 2021.
  2. Review all the videos showing various safety protocols.
  3. If you would like to consider a gathering that does not meet our current protocols, then at least 10 days before the event, make a request to the FPC COVID Planning Task Force through Katy Weeks at covid-response@fpc-stow-acton.org. Your request must include all the information required by the applicable Protocols depending on whether the event is outdoors or inside the buildings.
  4. Once your event is approved, each participant must sign the FPC Waiver Form, as recommended by our insurance company.
  5. Each participant must also review the appropriate Protocol prior to the event.
  6. 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

Off-site events: If you would like to schedule an off-site FPC event, please review the recommendations in the document FPC COVID Update June 11, 2021.


Documents and Links

A summary of documents and links are shown below.


Instructional Videos

Hand Washing
Social Distancing
Bathrooms
Wearing a Mask

If you have any comments or questions regarding these guidelines, please contact Katy Weeks via email at covid-response@fpc-stow-acton.org.