Part III: Re-Opening Church Services – Consider “How” Before “When”

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Your church property will need an initial deep cleaning to prepare it for re-opening.  However, a key point to remember is that the property will also require consistent cleaning during and after usage.  Cleaning is not a once and done process.  As people enter and occupy the building a trail of regularly timed cleaning tasks must follow.

Outsourcing Versus Self Cleaning

Cleaning can be carried out by staff and volunteers or by hiring an outside contractor.  With the intense demand for cleaning due to Covid-19 it may be difficult to obtain a professional.  If choosing an outside contractor, be sure to properly vet all their credentials and require them to add the church as an additional insured as part of the contracting process.

If your church chooses to utilize staff and volunteers to clean the campus, be sure that the people are always properly protected.  Also, ensure that the process you utilize is of a standard that will properly clean and disinfect effectively producing for a safer environment.

Protection During Cleaning

Your people need to be protected as they clean.  Be sure you are supplying appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for all that are cleaning.  Those involved need to be aware of the risks of the cleaning process and work to utilize safe processes.

Your staff and volunteers should consider utilizing:

  • Masks
  • Gloves
  • Goggles/Face shields
  • Clothes to be cleaned or discarded
  • Hand sanitizer

Another key point to remember in protection is to utilize proper ventilation of the areas you are cleaning.  Although not equipment it is an important ingredient in safety.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Products

Cleaning products such as detergents are useful in the first part of the process as excess dirt needs to be removed to prepare the surfaces for disinfecting.  In regards to disinfecting, the EPA has provided a list of approved products that have the capability of disinfecting against the SARS-COV 2 virus.  It can be found at  https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2   Be sure that the cleaning team has read and understands the directions for the specific product that they are using.

If disinfectants from the EPA list are hard to obtain, the CDC has also provided information on creating a usable bleach solution that can be used for appropriate surfaces.  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

Bleach Solution:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of room temperature water OR
  • 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room temperature water

Initial Cleaning and Disinfection Process

Buildings may have been sitting idle for several weeks at this time.  The process will require both cleaning and disinfecting the facility.  Dirt, dust and debris impede surfaces from being able to be disinfected correctly.  Therefore, a thorough removal of excess dirt, dust and debris is required prior to disinfecting.

Step 1: Clean surfaces with detergent and cleaning chemicals appropriate to the surface and rinse with appropriate amounts of water if necessary.

Step 2: Utilize disinfectants on cleaned surfaces. For products to work correctly it is imperative that they are applied correctly.  Often this means leaving surfaces wet for appropriate amounts of time, often referred to as “dwell times”.

Ongoing Cleaning and Disinfection Process

Once the initial clean and disinfecting is done, the job is not over.  The team will have to create a schedule to disinfect high touch areas consistently and quickly while the building is in use.  The time period between cleanings and disinfection will vary based on the amount of traffic, however it is better to err on the side of more than enough then less than enough.

Examples of high touch surfaces include:

  • Handrails
  • Doorknobs
  • Pews/Chairs
  • Light switches
  • Faucets
  • Countertops/Tables
  • Touchscreens

Campaigning Awareness

Unfortunately, cleaning and disinfecting alone will not protect your congregation.  It is an important first start but must be combined with communication on how your church may be operating differently in the months ahead.  The way the people interact with the buildings will change.  Explaining and communicating the steps that are being taken can help build a corporate response to helping keep people safe.  Social distance, frequent hand washing and other basic personal responsibilities can help the congregation move into a way to interact safely.

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