Love Your Neighbor: Update on phased re-opening of church office


Dear People of Good Shepherd,

As we announced in last week’s Good News email, the church office is beginning to re-open on a limited basis. At the present time, not all of the church staff will be in the office at the same time, as we have decided it is best to stagger our physical presence in the church building. In addition, we will not be open for visitors or appointments. If anyone would like to see me regarding pastoral or other matters, feel free to contact me – email or cell – and I will arrange to meet you in an appropriate and safe manner and location. I am grateful for your patience with us as we seek to live into this new rhythm.

In preparation for the re-opening of the office, we have put into place several protocols to keep our staff safe. One of the protocols includes having all staff members tested for COVID-19 prior to our coming back to the office. A little over two weeks ago, on the morning of May 15, one of the Good Shepherd School teachers was in the building at Good Shepherd preparing her classroom for re-opening. While in the building, the teacher encountered three members of our Good Shepherd Church Staff with less than the recommended social distancing space between them.

The following morning, this teacher was notified that she tested positive for COVID-19. She was and has remained asymptomatic, as have all the Good Shepherd church and school staff she came in contact with. Because our three church staff members had “come in contact” with the teacher, they were tested for the virus. Two staff members tested negative while one tested inconclusive, “presumed positive;” a subsequent retest had the same result: “inconclusive, presumed positive.” This person has self-quarantined, following the guidelines of the health department, and was asymptomatic during that period. After 14 days of self-quarantine, the health department said the staff member was “deemed as having completed [the] quarantine and any amount of virus material that might show up is just a remnant. You can’t infect anyone at this point.” With all of our staff members now deemed “safe,” I have decided we will open the church office only on a limited basis beginning June 2, 2020.

All of our Good Shepherd Church staff will continue to self-monitor our own health conditions, checking for fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc. Should any of us exhibit any of these signs and symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, we will immediately be re-tested for the virus and quarantine pending the results of the test and the recommendation of our health care professionals. While we are onsite at the church, each member of the staff will wear a mask and practice social distancing from any other persons in the building. When we are in the privacy of our offices by ourselves, these doors will remain closed and masks may be taken off. We will not congregate or gather together in any common areas.

We want to assure you, the people of Good Shepherd, that your health, safety and peace of mind is our utmost priority. We want to do everything we can to keep you and our fellow staff members safe. Should you have ANY questions about our re-opening or our protocols, or any other matters, please do not hesitate to contact me by email, or cell, 423-463-4397.

Blessings, grace, and peace,
Fr. Robert+