COVID-19 Preparedness Plan for Bemidji First Assembly

Bemidji First Assembly is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our workers and congregants. To ensure we have a safe and healthy workplace, we have developed the following COVID-19 Preparedness Plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bemidji First Assembly staff are all responsible for implementing this plan. Our goal is to alleviate the potential for transmission of COVID-19 in our church and community, and that requires full cooperation among our staff and congregants.  Only through this cooperative effort can we establish and maintain the safety and health of all persons in our workplaces.

Bemidji First Assembly staff are responsible for implementing and complying with all aspects of this COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. Bemidji First Assembly staff have our full support in enforcing the provisions of this policy, and we encourage our staff to ask questions, raise safety and health concerns, and offer suggestions related to the plan and its implementation.

We are serious about safety and health and keeping our staff working at Bemidji First Assembly. Staff involvement is essential in developing and implementing a successful COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. We have involved our staff and board in this process by soliciting their feedback and guidance in creating the plan. Our COVID-19 Preparedness Plan follows State of Minnesota Industry Guidance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Guidelines, federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards related to safety and health precautions required in response to COVID-19 and applicable executive orders. The plan addresses the following:

  • 1.       policies and procedures that assist in the identification of sick workers and ensure sick workers stay home;
  • 2.       implementation of engineering and administrative controls for social distancing;
  • 3.       worker hygiene and source controls;
  • 4.       workplace building and ventilation protocols;
  • 5.       workplace cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
  • 6.       drop-off, pick-up and delivery practices and protocols; and
  • 7.       communications, training and supervision practices and protocols.
  • 8.       what customers and clients can do to minimize transmission;
  • 9.       additional protections and protocols for managing occupancy; and
  • 10.   additional protections and protocols to limit face-to-face interactions.

1.   Policies and procedures that assist in the identification of sick workers and ensure sick workers stay home

Workers 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. Workers should screen themselves before coming to church whether they have the following symptoms, including but not limited to fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle or body aches, or loss of sense of smell and/or taste.   If workers have any of the symptoms, they should be advised to stay home, stay away from other people, and contact their health care provider.  

Bemidji First Assembly has implemented leave policies that promote workers staying at home when they are sick, when household members are sick, or when they are required to isolate or quarantine themselves or a member of their household. Sick leave is extended to allow for any worker who experiences the previously defined Covid-19 symptoms or has a household member experiencing those symptoms to self-isolate for 14 days. Workers who have underlying health conditions or household members with underlying health conditions are able to work remotely. In addition, if a worker is exposed to someone with a positive Covid-19 test or anyone with flu like symptoms, they are required to self-isolate for 14 days.

2.   Social distancing – maintaining six feet of physical distancing

Social distancing of six feet will be implemented and maintained between workers in the workplace through the following engineering and administrative protocols:  Staff will work in their offices and limit meetings to ten people or less. Social distancing of six feet will be implemented and maintained between workers and congregants. 

3.  Worker hygiene and source controls

Worker hygiene and source controls are being implemented at our building at all times. Hand sanitizing stations are set up throughout the building and signs are posted encouraging frequent handwashing. Masks and disposable gloves are available for interactions when social distancing is not possible. Paper towels and a trash receptacle are readily available in bathrooms so that workers and congregants do not have to touch restroom doors. Drinking fountains are not available, and no food or beverages will be served.

3.  Workplace building and ventilation protocols

Reopening the workplace includes necessary sanitation, assessment and maintenance of building systems including water, plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems.  All building utilities are up to code, the HVAC system circulates fresh air routinely, and air-conditioning is de-humidifying the building.

5.    Workplace cleaning and disinfection protocols

Regular housekeeping practices are being implemented, including routine sanitizing of the workplace and frequent sanitizing of high-touch areas, such as door handles, light switches, restrooms, seating, and office equipment. Workers have been instructed that personal equipment and tools should not be shared and, if shared, should be disinfected between users.

After each meeting, all surfaces shall be cleaned.  Disinfectant and paper towels will be readily available to wipe high-traffic areas, and a spray disinfectant will be used on cloth seating.

6.   Drop-off, pick-up and delivery practices and protocols

Staff will receive deliveries through a contactless method when possible and will minimize contact and disinfect when contact is required.

7.   Communications, training and supervision practices and protocols

This COVID-19 Preparedness Plan has been certified by Bemidji First Assembly and is posted on the website.  It will be updated as necessary.

8.  What congregants can do to minimize transmission of COVID-19

     1)   Online services will continue and are available for all people who do not feel comfortable coming to the physical church building and for people             who are ill and may risk infecting others.

     2)  We will follow the mandate set out by the CDC and MN Department of Health which states:

         a.  Strongly urge all “at risk” staff and members of vulnerable populations to stay home and participate in services remotely.

                  i.  At-risk persons defined. Consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”), “at-risk persons”

                      include people who are:

                     1.  65 years and older.

                     2.  Living in a nursing home or a long-term care facility, as defined by the Commissioner of Health.

                     3.  Any age with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, including:

                           a.  People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.

                           b.  People who have serious heart conditions. 

                           c.  People who are immunocompromised (caused by cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune

                                deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, or prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications).

                           d.  People with severe obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher).

                           e.  People with diabetes.

                           f.   People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis.

                           g.  People with liver disease.

            b.  In addition, anyone with active Covid-19 or symptoms of Covid-19 should not attend any public services at Bemidji First Assembly.  The CDC

                 defines the symptoms as:

                  ii.   Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, headache, muscle pain, sore throat, or loss of taste or smell.                             Other less common symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhe

     3)     Meeting Together


            a.  Social distancing                                                             

                  i.  To maintain the mandated six-foot distancing rule:

                       1.   Family groups will sit together with additional separation

                       2.  No children’s programs are available.  Children must remain with their parents. The Lead Pastor and Family Life Pastor will provide

                            something for children that corresponds to sermon until further notice.

                      3.    Maintain at least six-foot distance from other members.

                      4.  Bathroom use needs to be limited to make sure six-foot distance can be maintained between people.

                              ii.   Congregants should maintain social distancing while they are exiting and should not gather in groups until they are outside of the


            b.  Preventing Spread of Virus

                 i.     Shared items will be removed as they cannot be effectively cleaned. We will use the following options:

                      1.   Overhead Projector and TV in foyer to guide participants through the worship lyrics, and scriptures used in the service.

                      2.  Distribute paper copies in a way that minimizes contact by anyone but the service participant, and do not reuse.

                ii.  We encourage participants to regularly wash and/or sanitize their hands.  Sanitizer will be available in various locations throughout the


               iii.  We strongly encourage all participants to wear a face covering or mask when they are able. Mask wearing primarily protects others and

                      not the person who is wearing the mask.  We will have extra masks available for people who do not arrive with one. Cloth face coverings

                      are NOT a substitute for maintaining a physical distance of 6-feet from other people.

               iv.   If a person becomes sick, CDC guidelines will be followed to remove them from contact with others and disinfect areas with which they

                     came into contact.

     4)    These policies are subject to change as the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor’s office, and the CDC announce new mandates.

9.  Additional protections and protocols for managing occupancy

       1)  Our sanctuary is able to hold 200 according to code.

            a.  With the governor’s guidelines of 50% occupancy, our maximum seating in sanctuary is 100.

            b.  Additional chairs will be set up in the overflow room.  Should all of the chairs be filled, additional congregants will be asked to attend the

                 next service or online.

10.  Additional protections and protocols to limit face-to-face interactions

        1)   Participants must stay in the designated meeting areas.  Other rooms such as the nursery and classrooms will be off limits until further notice.

      2)  We will adapt our practices during services and ceremonies to avoid physical contact or passing objects between individuals.

              a.  Greeting and interaction without physical contact

           b.  No offering plates will be passed.  All offering should be placed in the offering box in the back of the sanctuary, mailed, or given online.

           c.  Communion will be in single serving format and will be distributed at the door by people using masks and gloves. 

Certified by:
Paul Rose
Lead Pastor