Come Holy Spirit, Fill and Renew us!

Guidelines for welcoming people back to our parishes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How should parishes plan for faith formation and other ministries and activities for the ’20-’21 faith formation year?

A: Please consult the latest guidance to assist pastors and their parish catechetical leaders available in the Archbishop’s updated instructions as well as our recommended considerations for Parish Ministries and Activities for ’20-’21 document. Further recommendations for parish catechetical leaders on planning ahead and adapting faith formation to our current circumstances are available here. More information on Families Forming Disciples, a family faith formation initiative from the Office of Formation and Discipleship, is available here.

Q: Will Confirmation of young people have specific health restrictions and guidelines?

A: Confirmations that have been postponed or were scheduled to take place before August 31 may be celebrated by the pastor or a priest he designates, without additional delegation from the Archbishop.  Record of those confirmed is to be sent to the Archdiocese.  Confirmations that will take place after September 1 are to be scheduled with one of the bishops celebrating the sacrament.  In either case, large groups of confirmands may need to be divided into groups that can be accommodated with only confirmands, sponsors, and parents in attendance—unless and until distancing is lessened, allowing for greater numbers at each ceremony.

The USCCB released a statement to say that use of an instrument– such as gloves or a cotton swab– to apply the sacred chrism does not affect the validity of the sacrament.

Q: What guidelines are we using for masks? Is there a minimum age for masks?

Children over than the age of reason (seven and older) will be expected to wear a mask. The obligation to attend Mass remains dispensed until the end of June, so those who cannot wear a mask, especially those with breathing issues, do not need to return to church.

Q: Are masks required for outdoor liturgies?

A: The Archdiocese will not require masks for outdoor liturgies, but each pastor can make his own determination in his community.

Q: Is the Archdiocese of Atlanta providing a reservation system for parishes?

A: No, but attached you will find a sample of how one parish in Florida uses the Eventbrite software and here is a link to a list of other reservation systems parishes can consider. Each parish will have different space and needs so each will have to determine which software is best for their situation. https://sourceforge.net/software/product/SignUpGenius/alternatives.

Sample of how a parish in the Diocese of Jacksonville is using Eventbrite for space reservation in a parish:

Dear Parishioners,

We are happy to announce the reopening of public Masses. In order to bring people back to church in an orderly and safe manner, we have decided to implement a Mass sign up program. Here are instructions on signing up for Mass:

  • Find the Mass you would like to attend below.*
  • Click on the link below the Mass. Please note that we have Masses both in the Cultural Center and at the Palmer gym.Select accordingly.
  • Click on the “Register” icon located on the right side of the webpage.
  • Select how many members of your family will be attending Mass.
  • On the day of the Mass, please have a copy of your ticket with you, either paper or digital.
  • The ushers will be checking tickets at the entrance of the building.
  • Entrance will not be permitted to those who do not have a ticket and a mask. We are mandated to follow the guidelines from the Diocese of St. Augustine.
  • Saturday 5:00pm (Cultural Center) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-500-pm-cultural-center-tickets- 10479670777
  • Saturday 5:00pm (Palmer) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-500-pm-palmer-gymnasium-tickets- 10479748810
  • Sunday 8:00am (Cultural Center) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-800-am-cultural-center-tickets- 10479787526
  • Sunday 8:00am (Palmer) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-800-am-palmer-gymnasium-tickets- 10479801568
  • Sunday 10:00am (Cultural Center) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-1000-am-cultural-center-tickets- 10484534324
  • Sunday 10:00am (Palmer) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-1000-am-palmer-gymnasium-tickets- 10484548968
  • Sunday 12:00pm (Cultural Center) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-1200-pm-cultural-center-tickets- 10484553381
  • Sunday 12:00pm (Palmer) https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mass-1200-pm-palmer-gymnasium-tickets- 10484562408

*Some Masses may already be filled to capacity.

Please note our parish guidelines for Mass:

  • We ask all families to remain at least 6 feet apart from other people during the liturgy.
  • The ushers will be present to ensure social distancing during communion as well as entering and exiting the church.
  • The collection basket will be located at the entrance to the building. It will not be passed around during the liturgy.
  • The sign of peace will be temporarily suspended.
  • During the Lord’s Prayer, handholding will not be permitted.
  • All Eucharistic ministers will sanitize their hands before and afterdistributing communion.
  • We invite you to bring hand sanitizer with you to Mass.
  • Everyone over the age of 2 must wear a mask throughout the entire Mass, other than the moment of receiving the Body ofChrist. Masks will not be provided.
  • Out of concern for the health of others, Holy Communion will be received in the hand only without gloves.
  • For the time being, we will not have altar servers during our Masses.
  • Hymnals are temporarily removed.
  • The Cultural Center and the Palmer gym will both be sanitized between Masses.
  • If you have any symptoms, are feeling sick at all, sneezing, or coughing or have recently traveled out of state, we kindly ask that you stay at home.We look forward to seeing you soon!
Q: What if I do not wish to wear a mask at Mass? Isn’t social distancing enough?

A: The Centers for Disease Control is still recommending masks for both indoor and outdoor activities. If you are not able to wear a mask because of health concerns, it might not be safe for you to return to Mass just yet. Masks are needed to keep others safe, including your fellow parishioners, the ministers and your pastor. We must take the safest approach possible as we welcome people back to our parishes and we ask for your patience and cooperation.

For further guidance:

Q: What should a parish do if they are informed that someone who attended Mass has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

If a minister, staff member, deacon or priest comes into contact with someone who has an active case of COVID-19, he or she should go into quarantine, report the exposure to Deacon Dennis Dorner, Chancellor and get tested before returning to ministry. If the exposure happened during a liturgy, the parish should notify everyone who may have also attended the liturgy. If the priest’s or deacon’s test comes back positive, he should report it to the local health department so they can complete contact tracing.

Please note that people can self-report a positive case, so a pastor or deacon can tell his parish he has COVID-19,  but a pastor or parish should not identify an individual who has a case. The pastor can notify the parish with generic language such as: “A person with a confirmed case attended XX Mass.” Privacy laws prohibit the release of personal health information.

It is very important for your own safety and for the safety of others that you monitor your health for 14 days from your last possible exposure to COVID-19, and that you remain at home, avoid congregate settings and public activities, and practice social distancing.

If you are not sick, monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19.

Check your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms.

Quarantine yourself at home except in case of emergency or to be tested for COVID-19.

If possible, stay away from other people living in your home, especially those who are at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html

COVID-19 Testing.  You should obtain a test for COVID-19 at least once during your quarantine.  If you have no symptoms, the test should take place on the 10th day of quarantine.  You should obtain a test earlier in your quarantine if you experience any of the following symptoms:

    • Fever (measured temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or you feel feverish)
    • Chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

Call your local health department or your doctor to schedule testing.  You can find contact information for your health department here: https://dph.georgia.gov/document/document/covid-19-testingdirect-patient-line/download.  Please note that even if your test results are negative, you still must remain in quarantine for the entire 14 days.  If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point during your quarantine period, please also follow the guidance below for isolation.

If you seek a test on day 10 of your quarantine, ideally your results should be available by day 14. It is recommended that you do not return to work until a negative result is returned. If your results are still pending after your 14-day quarantine is complete, and you decide to return to work, we recommend that you take extra care with prevention measures to avoid exposure to others in the event that your test result comes back as positive.

If you receive a positive COVID-19 test regardless of your symptom status, follow Georgia Department of Public Health isolation guidelines https://dph.georgia.gov/isolation-contact

Symptomatic persons who are not healthcare personnel with confirmed COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 can return to work after:

At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications,  AND improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath);

AND, At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

Asymptomatic persons who are not healthcare personnel with confirmed COVID-19 can return to work after:

At least 10 days have passed since the positive laboratory test and the person remains asymptomatic.

Note, asymptomatic persons who test positive and later develop symptoms should follow the guidance for symptomatic persons above

Asymptomatic persons who are not healthcare personnel, and who do not work in critical infrastructure who have a known exposure to a person with COVID-19 without appropriate PPE can return to work after:

After they have completed all requirements in the DPH guidance for persons exposed to COVID-19 found at https://dph.georgia.gov/contact

Of note, if this person is tested for COVID-19 during the 14 day quarantine period, a negative test result would not change or decrease the time a person is monitored.

Some helpful resources for exposure and testing:

Q: If an Extraordinary Minister or other server (or priest) has had COVID-19, when can they return to ministry? What about a parishioner?

A:

If a minister, staff member, deacon or priest comes into contact with someone who has an active case of COVID-19, he or she should go into quarantine, report the exposure to Deacon Dennis Dorner, Chancellor and get tested before returning to ministry. If the exposure happened during a liturgy, the parish should notify everyone who may have also attended the liturgy. If the priest’s or deacon’s test comes back positive, he should report it to the local health department so they can complete contact tracing.

Please note that people can self-report a positive case, so a pastor or deacon can tell his parish he has COVID-19,  but a pastor or parish should not identify an individual who has a case. The pastor can notify the parish with generic language such as: “A person with a confirmed case attended XX Mass.” Privacy laws prohibit the release of personal health information.

It is very important for your own safety and for the safety of others that you monitor your health for 14 days from your last possible exposure to COVID-19, and that you remain at home, avoid congregate settings and public activities, and practice social distancing.

If you are not sick, monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath during the 14 days after the last day you were in close contact with the sick person with COVID-19.

Check your temperature twice a day and watch for symptoms.

Quarantine yourself at home except in case of emergency or to be tested for COVID-19.

If possible, stay away from other people living in your home, especially those who are at high risk for getting very sick from COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/index.html

COVID-19 Testing.  You should obtain a test for COVID-19 at least once during your quarantine.  If you have no symptoms, the test should take place on the 10th day of quarantine.  You should obtain a test earlier in your quarantine if you experience any of the following symptoms:

    • Fever (measured temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, or you feel feverish)
    • Chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

Call your local health department or your doctor to schedule testing.  You can find contact information for your health department here: https://dph.georgia.gov/document/document/covid-19-testingdirect-patient-line/download.  Please note that even if your test results are negative, you still must remain in quarantine for the entire 14 days.  If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point during your quarantine period, please also follow the guidance below for isolation.

If you seek a test on day 10 of your quarantine, ideally your results should be available by day 14. It is recommended that you do not return to work until a negative result is returned. If your results are still pending after your 14-day quarantine is complete, and you decide to return to work, we recommend that you take extra care with prevention measures to avoid exposure to others in the event that your test result comes back as positive.

If you receive a positive COVID-19 test regardless of your symptom status, follow Georgia Department of Public Health isolation guidelines https://dph.georgia.gov/isolation-contact

Symptomatic persons who are not healthcare personnel with confirmed COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 can return to work after:

At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications,  AND improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath);

AND, At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared

Asymptomatic persons who are not healthcare personnel with confirmed COVID-19 can return to work after:

At least 10 days have passed since the positive laboratory test and the person remains asymptomatic.

Note, asymptomatic persons who test positive and later develop symptoms should follow the guidance for symptomatic persons above

Asymptomatic persons who are not healthcare personnel, and who do not work in critical infrastructure who have a known exposure to a person with COVID-19 without appropriate PPE can return to work after:

After they have completed all requirements in the DPH guidance for persons exposed to COVID-19 found at https://dph.georgia.gov/contact

Of note, if this person is tested for COVID-19 during the 14 day quarantine period, a negative test result would not change or decrease the time a person is monitored.

Some helpful resources for exposure and testing:

Q: Can teens who need service hours come to the the church and help with cleaning or other service projects?

A: Teens and young adults can help in the parish if they are supervised by a VIRTUS-trained adult and follow social distancing protocols. ​

Q: If a parish community is not ready to have people back, do they have to open Masses to the public at this time?

A: No. Pastors can decide, based on community conditions and the ability to put protocols into place, whether or not a parish can offer public Mass. What is important is that he communicate with his parishioners about his plans and the reasons the parish is not yet able to let people back in.

Q: When faith formation and youth gatherings can resume, do parishes need to add a waiver specific to COVID-19?

The parishes should mirror language being used by the Office of Catholic Schools, who are including the following in their materials for the fall. Parishes can add their name into this in place of [name of school]. Parents should sign this form and the parish should keep it with the other registration materials. ​

Assumption of the Risk Relating to COVID-19

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has been declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization. COVID-19 is extremely contagious and is believed to spread mainly from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or speaks. As a result, government agencies at all levels and federal, state and local health agencies recommend social distancing and have placed limits on the congregation of groups of individuals. [Name of school] has put preventative measures in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19; however, the school cannot guarantee that you or your child(ren) will not become infected with COVID-19. Further, attending activities on the campus of [name of school] could increase your risk and that of your children for contracting COVID-19. While [name of school] will make all reasonable efforts to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread at school, the school is unable to provide any guarantee that students or their families will not be exposed to or infected by COVID-19. By enrolling your child(ren) in and attending school, you acknowledge the contagious nature of COVID-19 and voluntarily assume the risk that you, your child(ren) and or other family members may be exposed to or infected by COVID-19. It is expected that students and other school family members will follow the preventative measures and guidelines implemented [name of school] including not coming to the school premises if demonstrating any signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Assumption of Risk Form

Last Updated: July 24, 2020

Asunción Del Riesgo Relacionado Con Covid-19

Last Updated: July 24, 2020

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