Covid, Heating, Ventilation and New MA Regulations:  Winter is Coming

Covid, Heating, Ventilation and New MA Regulations:  Winter is Coming

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Friends,

There is that fall chill in the air.  It is the change of seasons.  And with it comes new decisions we face in our church life.  The current state of this pandemic continues along the path ways we have seen through the trends of the past.  And our guidance to churches remains the same as shared late summer:  www.sneucc.org/blogdetail/phasing-forward-into-the-fall-14132492    

However, there are 2 additional concerns. 
  1. As more evidence emerges of the spread of Covid through aerosolized means (smaller droplet floating on the air along with the larger droplets that fall to the ground) we know of the heating season challenge.  We won’t be able to keep windows open for fresh air much longer.  And, in many of our churches, our heating systems may only recirculate air without any filtering.  And while the aerosolized virus may dissipate to less harmful levels as the heating system circulates air, it is difficult to know within each church what those safe levels are.  As an example consider the impact of one person smoking in a corner of your sanctuary.  How long before the smell of the smoke pervades the whole space and at what level of intensity is it?  And what impact would your heating system have on the spread?   Take these into consideration as you continue your conversations about phasing forward with worship.  And, when in doubt, consult with your local health agent or board of health. 
     
  2. While the RI and CT state requirements of houses of worship remain unchanged since May, there is some new guidance from Ma. (9-8-2020) which may be informative for all of us.  (Click here to find them: https://www.mass.gov/doc/phase-iii-step-1-places-of-worship-checklist/download.)  While most of the guidance remains consistent there is one item on the checklist worth noting.   The guidelines say: “no enclosed space within the building may exceed occupancy of 10 persons per 1,000 square feet.”   There are other points in the checklist that also speak about a percentage of your occupancy permit.  But they expect churches to follow the lowest of numbers.   This may have impact on sanctuary space as well as other meeting spaces within your buildings.  Again, when in doubt, consult with you local health agent or board of health. 
As we move into the fall we are also moving into the 7th month of this pandemic.  It takes its toll on all of us with a particular impact on clergy and leadership who are not only trying to develop powerful worship, engaging community and meaningful social action, but are also standing in the middle of many different needs, health concerns, longing, feelings, questions, opinions and posturing.  It is the most difficult place to be.  Be gentle with each other. 


Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash
 

Author

don-remick-2018.jpg
Don Remick

The Rev. Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister

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