11/10/2020 – COVID-19 Information Center | COVID-19 Rapid Tests available for your church or school READ THE UPDATE

Many ministries have called us to request what to do if there is a positive COVID-19 case in their church or school. There are several variations to our response, and they differ between church and school and between staff member and congregant/student. This resource will provide guidance to assist your ministry in responding to each scenario.

Download the Church COVID-19 Exposure Communication Template

If the suspected COVID-19 case in your church is a staff member, the first step is to have him or her tested to confirm a positive or negative COVID diagnosis. (This step is different for a congregant.) The next step is to communicate potential exposure to the church body. This communication should be short and to the point and avoid disclosing any personally identifiable medical information regarding the staff member. (We have developed a template of this communication for you to download above.) This will help ensure that the church community is informed so they may take personal precautions. The third step involves mitigation, which should include additional cleaning and disinfection, quarantining of the staff member until he or she is symptom free for 72 hours, and monitoring of other staff members for symptoms. If you believe there was a likely chance of exposure, please contact our office for next steps.

If the suspected COVID-19 case is a church member, steps are slightly different. The first step is to inform the congregation that a member has tested positive, if there was potential exposure through that individual’s work in a ministry (e.g. Sunday school, children’s church, etc.) or if her or she attended a church service where exposure might have occurred. Again, this communication should be short and to the point and avoid mentioning any personally identifiable health information. Request that the church member stay home until symptom free for 72 hours, and mitigate with the same cleaning steps as outlined above. In both situations, the desire is not only to avoid creating panic but also to give people the information they need to make informed decisions concerning their family’s health.

Download the School COVID-19 Exposure Communication Template

Schools have a different threshold of liability, which requires a different level of mitigation when a confirmed COVID-19 case occurs. If the suspected COVID-19 case is a teacher or staff member, the first step is to have him or her tested to confirm a positive or negative COVID diagnosis. The next step is to communicate potential exposure to the school community generally and inform specific families of any direct exposure to their child (in situations where there has been close contact not mitigated through masks or social distancing). This communication should be short and to the point and avoid disclosing any personally identifiable health information of the staff member in question. (We have developed a template of this communication for you to download above.) This will help ensure that the school community is informed so they may take personal precautions. The third step involves mitigation, which should include additional cleaning and disinfection, quarantining of the staff member until he or she is symptom free for 72 hours, and monitoring other staff members for symptoms. If you believe there was a likely chance of broad exposure, please contact our office for next steps.

If the suspected COVID-19 case is a student, steps are slightly different. The first step is to inform the school community that a student tested positive, if there was potential exposure at school. Exposure must have involved close contact without a mask or social distancing in place. Again, this communication should be short and to the point without mentioning any personally identifiable health information. Request that the student stay home until symptom free for 72 hours, and mitigate with the same cleaning steps as outlined above. In both situations, the desire is not only to avoid creating panic but also to give people the information they need to make informed decisions concerning their family’s health.

As a Christian school or church, please be aware of local health department guidelines or requirements. Our legal team can help you navigate any confusion regarding official requests by contacting us at 888-233-6255 or emailing info@ncll.org. Also, be mindful of the need to keep private information confidential when you are communicating about these issues. Many feel embarrassed or frustrated when they feel “singled out” for having the virus. As always, be gracious in handling communication and responding to parents and others who are trying to understand the right way to handle the situation. Our goal is always to maintain a spirit of diligence and not of fear.

As situations vary from state to state, our legal team can provide you specific guidance for your unique scenario. Please contact our office today for a consultation regarding these issues. We can be reached by phone at 888-233-6255 or by email at info@ncll.org.