9/16/2020 – COVID-19 Information Center | What do we do if we have a COVID-19 case? READ THE UPDATE

We regularly receive questions from churches and schools requesting information on how to handle confirmed COVID-19 cases. First, we need to understand that every state is handling things differently, and in some cases, particular counties within a specific state are handling matters differently. Also, people in our churches and schools hold varying views of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even within a church of like-minded members, often radically different perspectives have made the situation difficult to manage.

As with many aspects of COVID-19, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. At any time you have a concern, please contact our office for a consultation on the best way to move forward during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Confirmed-Case FAQs

  1. Do I need to shut down my school if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case? A single COVID-19 case does not require that you shut down your school, preschool, or after-school care. However, we do recommend that you thoroughly disinfect any classroom spaces and have the student or staff member in question quarantine until symptom free (fever, dry cough, lack of smell or taste) for at least 24 hours.
  2. Do I need to shut down my church if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case? A single COVID-19 case does not require that you cancel meeting as a church. However, we do recommend that you thoroughly disinfect the church building and have the member and his family quarantine until they are symptom free (fever, dry cough, lack of smell or taste) for at least 24 hours.
  3. Do I need to report any confirmed cases to the local health department? Every county is different. Your students, staff, and families have a right to privacy, and when they receive COVID-19 testing, their information will be confirmed at that time. If your local health department requests this information, please let us know, and we will assist you in handling this communication.
  4. Should I let all the families in our school or church know when a child, staff member, parent, or congregant contracts COVID-19? HIPPA laws are still applicable even in cases of COVID-19. Disclosing the confidential health information of a student, staff member, parent, or congregant is a violation of their privacy. We recommend that you draft a communication that generally reflects the nature of the concern (i.e., a “staff member,” a “student”) without needlessly raising alarm, letting your families know of potential exposure and how you are addressing it.
  5. Do we need to do our own contact tracing? Should you try to identify every individual who was in contact with the individual who tested positive and communicate directly concerning potential exposure? This is not something required of churches or schools. Instead, we recommend you allow the individual to choose whom he or she tells regarding potential exposure.
  6. What defines an outbreak? Every state defines this differently. If you have more than three incidents of exposure and diagnosis after a single event or in a short period of time, you should contact our office to determine next steps.
  7. Should we communicate a prayer request for anyone who has COVID-19? If your church usually puts health prayer requests in the bulletin or online, please obtain confirmation from the individual before letting people know that he or she has COVID-19.

As many have experienced, COVID-19 can be an emotionally charged topic, as people’s sincerely held beliefs come into play. However, the guidelines above can assist your ministry in handling confirmed COVID-19 cases in a way that allows your ministry to keep people safe and continue ministering effectively. Our goal is always maximum ministry with minimum liability.

Contact our office today for more information about any topic in this article or any other legal matter facing your ministry by calling 888-255-6233 or emailing us at info@ncll.org.

Additional Resources

If you would like to review our policies for schools, please visit: https://www.ncll.org/news-alerts/private-school-guidance-for-re-opening-fall-2020

If you would like to review our policies for churches, please visit: https://www.ncll.org/news-alerts/covid-19-updated-5-13-2020

If you would like to review our notes concerning masks, please visit: https://www.ncll.org/news-alerts/the-new-requirements-to-wear-masks-1