Updated: An Important Message from Fr. Mike Tix
April 5, 2021
An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists anywhere people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and people with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. St. Mathias Catholic Church in Hampton, St. Mary Catholic Church in New Trier, and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Vermillion has undertaken precautionary cleaning, disinfecting, and implemented social distancing guidelines to help reduce the risk of exposure. However, St. Mathias, St. Mary, and/or St. John the Baptist cannot guarantee that visitors are 100% safe from exposure to COVID-19. Therefore, St. Mathias, St. Mary, and/or St. John the Baptist Catholic Church recommends that people over 65 or with underlying health conditions not attend mass at this time and continue to worship online. Attendance at liturgies is at your own risk.
As always, please let us know if you have any further questions.
Sincerely in Christ,
Father Mike Tix
Mass Protocols Beginning May 30/31
- Church will open for seating 30 minutes prior to the start of Mass.
- People arriving for Mass should wear masks.
- Please note that attendance will be limited to 50% capacity in keeping with current State of MN regulations.
- Ushers (wearing masks and latex gloves) will seat people much like at a wedding.
- Seating will begin from the front and fill to the back of church.
- People will not be able to choose their normal seats at Mass, but will need to sit wear the usher seats them to allow us to properly social distance in an orderly way.
- Seating will fill the church first, then go to the choir loft, and finally the church basement as needed. The goal is to not turn anyone away, but maintain social distancing to provide a safe environment.
- Church doors and windows must be open to maximize air flow, and if applicable, ceiling fans will be used.
- Bulletins will be in place near the doors for people to take, as will a Collection Basket for people to drop their offerings either before Mass as they enter, or as they leave the church.
- Mass will take place as usual except there is no procession of gifts, no sign of peace, no Communion from the chalice, people are encouraged to receive Communion in their hand.
- The distribution of Communion will take place at the end of Mass.
- For at least the first two weeks, there will be no music.
- There will be no hymnals in the pews, although people can bring and take their own personal missals or prayer books.
- After the final blessing and dismissal, Communion will be distributed.
- The celebrant will go near the main doors of the church for distribution.
- Ushers will direct the Communion procession.
- The Communion procession will be one single line, feeding the two sides, beginning with the last row of pews and moving to the front.
- When people are in line to receive Communion, they should stand on the blue marks on the floor for proper distancing.
- The goal of distributing Communion in this way is to minimize movement in the church, maintain social distancing, and limit congregate gatherings after Mass.
- After receiving Communion, people should leave the Church and proceed home.
COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
St. Mathias Catholic Church of Hampton, St. Mary Catholic Church of New Trier, and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church of Vermillion are committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our workers, volunteers, and parishioners. To ensure that, we have developed the following Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID- 19 pandemic. Our goal is to mitigate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our parish facilities, and that requires full cooperation of everyone. Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of everyone.
We are serious about safety and health and keeping our workers working at St. Mathias in Hampton, St. Mary in New Trier, and St. John the Baptist in Vermillion. The involvement of everyone whether employee or parishioner is essential in developing and implementing a successful COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. We have and will involve our employees and parishioners in this process by sending out digital copies and reviewing this Plan based upon suggested modifications. Our Preparedness Plan follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines and federal OSHA standards related to COVID-19 and addresses:
- hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
- engineering and administrative controls for social distancing;
- housekeeping - cleaning, disinfecting and decontamination;
- prompt identification and isolation of sick persons;
- communications and training that will be provided to managers and workers; and
- management and supervision necessary to ensure effective implementation of the plan.
Screening and policies for employees/parishioners exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19
Employees and parishioners have been informed of and encouraged to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. The following policies and procedures are being implemented to assess workers' health status prior to entering the workplace and for workers to report when they are sick or experiencing symptoms.
We will encourage employees and parishioners to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVD-19, and to stay at home if you feel sick or if you have a sick family member in your home. Employees and parishioners should not come to the parish if they have a fever of 100.4 or higher, or if you have a family member with a fever in your home. If an employee is sick, they should contact the Parish Business Administrator.
St. Mathias in Hampton, St. Mary in New Trier, and St. John the Baptist in Vermillion has leave policies that promote employees staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when required by a health care provider to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household. St. Mathias, St. Mary, and St. John the Baptist will follow the federal mandates in regards to employees affected by the COVID19 virus. Requests for accommodations for employees with underlying medical conditions or who have household members with underlying health conditions will be reviewed and implemented as appropriate.
St. Mathias, St. Mary, and St. John the Baptist will inform their respective employees if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 at their workplace and require them to quarantine for the required amount of time. St. Mathias, St. Mary and St. John the Baptist will require a quarantine of the exposed person(s) for 14 days. In addition, the individual parish will protect the privacy of employee's health status and health information. Employees will simply be informed that they have been exposed the exception of any personal information regarding the person that contracted COVID-19.
For parishioners or volunteers, St. Mathias, St. Mary, and St. John the Baptist will inform their respective parishioners if they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19, suggest that they actively monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and seek medical treatment as necessary.
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash .
- People in Minnesota are required to wear a face covering in all public indoor spaces and businesses, per Executive Order 20-81. This will include church services. Additionally the Executive Order requires workers to wear a face covering when working outdoors in situations where social distancing cannot be maintained. The Executive Order includes exemptions for people who are unable to wear or tolerate a face covering due to medical or mental health conditions or other reasons. There are also situations in which a face covering may be temporarily removed, such as when eating or drinking, provided that social distancing is maintained between members of different parties. For more information see Executive Order 20-81.
- Parishioners and volunteers should bring their own hand sanitizer for personal use. Extra masks will be available for people who do not have one.
- Signs will be posted as a reminder of these practices.
- Respect social distancing and avoid close contact with others by staying 6 feet away from others whenever possible.
- Employees should go only to their work areas, and as much as possible avoid visiting others.
- Employees should not eat in the employee breakroom at this time.
- Visitors to the parish or school office should be limited as much as possible.
- For church services such as Mass, in indoor settings, occupancy must not exceed 50% of total occupancy. Consult current guidance from the State of Minnesota regarding number of people who can attend either outside or social settings. The consumption of food and beverages beyond what is necessary for a planned service or ritual is also prohibited. This includes gatherings after services to share food, drink and community both indoors and outdoors.
- It is possible for parishioners to rent spaces to gather other than the church proper to share food, drink, and community both indoors and outdoors. These must follow the current guidance of the State of Minnesota and include a signed agreement to follow protocols.
- When a parishioner or visitor comes on parish grounds, they will be notified to 1) remain home if they, or anyone in their family are ill, 2) notify the parish or school if they, or anyone who has had contact with the parish or school develops COVID-19, or symptoms of COVID-19, 3) leave the premises if they are exhibiting symptoms of or sings of being infected with COVID -19.
- Signs will be posted as a reminder of these practices.
- Regular housekeeping practices will continue, including regular cleaning and disinfecting of work surfaces, equipment, and areas in the work environment, including restrooms and meeting rooms. Frequent cleaning and disinfecting will be conducted in high-touch areas such as phones, keyboards, touch screens, controls, door handles, railings, copy machines. If an employee is diagnosed with COVID- 19, the parish will do a deep-clean of the entire office area.
- Employees should wipe down any touched surfaces upon entering and prior to leaving a common area, with special attention to surfaces.
- Sanitizer will be available at various locations on parish grounds.
- Before and after church services, there will be regular cleaning and disinfecting of church pews, rest rooms, and other high-touch areas such as doorknobs, railings, handles, ends of pews, microphones, and other surfaces. If a parishioner is diagnosed with COVID-19 and has attended a recent service, the parish will do a deep-clean of the entire church and related areas.
- For church services, every reasonable effort will be used to maximize fresh air-flow and building ventilation through the use of air conditioning, or open doors and windows.
Specific Mass Protocols
- See the protocols for Mass from the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to address adapted practices during services such as greetings, collections baskets, and specific Communion protocols.
- These same protocols offer guidance for those who attend, and those who should not attend including strong encouragement to those most "at risk" as members of vulnerable populations to stay home and participate in service remotely recalling that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been dispensed by the proper authority of the Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
- Each parish will open its door 30 minutes prior to Mass for ushers to seat people in a manner similar to what is often seen at a wedding. Similarly, when Communion is distributed, ushers will direct parishioners and guests in a manner that respects CDC social distancing guidance.
- As outlined in Executive Order 20-99, all social gathers such as private parties, wedding receptions, funeral receptions (before or after Mass), celebrations of life milestones (birthdays or retirements), family reunions, gathers before or after planned religious services and other similar activities are not permitted.
Communications and Training
This Preparedness Plan was communicated by email to all employees, and by physical posting as well as website posting beginning on January 11, 2021. Employees and parishioners are to work through this new program together and update the training as necessary. This Preparedness Plan has been certified by Reverend Michael Tix and was posted in each of the parish buildings on January 11, 2021. It will be updated as necessary.
Reverend Michael Tix