Recommendations for Restarting Church Activities

March 24, 2021

I spoke with clergy and lay leaders this week regarding my latest detailed recommendations for restarting church activities, based on new guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Here are the highlights:

  • Until we reach a higher percentage of the total population vaccinated, masks need to be worn and social distancing continued at any event at which not everyone has been fully vaccinated.
  • Small group meetings (12 or fewer people) without masks are possible where everyone has been fully vaccinated. (This however does not include choir rehearsals.) You should still keep meetings short.
  • Open doors and windows as much as you can to bring in fresh, outdoor air.
  • The CDC recommends that all food that is served consist of pre-packaged, individual servings. Avoid buffets.
  • Given the CDC’s guideline not to share food, do not share the chalice at Holy Communion.
  • Continue to use masks and social distancing before, during, and after worship services.
  • If more than one person is sequentially using the same microphone, a fan trained on the microphone can help reduce aerosol droplets in the area of the microphone.
  • Paper-based materials are not considered a high risk for transmission and do not need additional procedures for cleaning or disinfection.

Childcare

Arkansas currently has a moderate risk of Covid-19 transmission, and thus any decision to commence Christian education or nursery care for children must be carefully made. Here are some recommendations:

  • All teachers or care providers should get vaccinated as soon as possible.
  • Masks should be used in both indoor and outdoor spaces by child care program staff and children over the age of 2. Masks should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old.
  • Avoid as much as possible any object that children might share.
  • Clean and disinfect more frequently your shared objects and surfaces, such as door handles, toilets, tables, sink faucets, and drinking fountains.
  • Require hand washing or use of hand sanitizer after coughing or sneezing.
  • Outdoors, routinely clean high touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings. Do not clean and disinfect wooden surfaces (play structures, benches, tables).

Faithfully yours,

Larry Benfield
Bishop of Arkansas