Come Holy Spirit, Fill and Renew us!

Guidelines for welcoming people back to our parishes

Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1: Can we host events with food onsite? If so, what are the guidelines surrounding this?

A: Food should be packaged in individual serving containers and eaten outside, if possible. Groups should be encouraged to spread out while eating.

Q. 2. Can we host multiple groups onsite with three-feet social distancing?

A: Multiple groups yes; The Archdiocese of Atlanta is not weighing in on precise measurements, though “reasonable” is seen to be three-to-six feet, with six feet preferred. It depends on the activity and space available. Groups should be kept in cohorts; those who are not vaccinated should continue to mask and good records need to be kept of participants should contact tracing be needed.

Q. 3. Are all leaders and participants required to wear masks onsite during meetings or events?

A: It’s our general opinion that if people are inside (particularly in a small area and with those who cannot yet receive vaccines), they should be masked. Generally, those who are unvaccinated are encouraged to wear masks for their own protection.

Q. 4. Is there a maximum number of people per group, or is this per room as space allows, or is this a total number per building?

A: The archdiocese has not set a number on gatherings, instead allowing parishes to determine number of people based upon the space they have. Organizers should also make an effort to ensure proper ventilation. Inside guidance remains that six-feet is best, but in some classroom-style situations with proper ventilation, that can be reduced a little. It is also important to keep groups in cohorts and to keep good records of who participated should contact tracing become needed.

Q. 5. Can we host non-Catholic Metro Sports or other league sports games such as soccer at youth ministry gatherings or is social distancing still required outdoors?

A: Depending on the activity and the “nearness” to others, masks may provide protection. The CDC says that for youth programs, current physical distancing protocols for schools should be followed (3 feet minimum within the same cohort and 6 feet when eating or drinking). Groups should be kept in cohorts and youth leaders should keep good records of participants should contact tracing be needed. For more specific guidance, see the Catholic Metro Sports league guidelines. ​

Q. 6. Is in-person Vacation Bible School (VBS) allowed this summer?

Yes, at the pastor’s discretion, VBS may occur in person. Consider utilizing outdoor spaces as a first option when possible, or large, well-ventilated indoor spaces to allow for proper physical distancing, always following the current guidelines for gatherings posted by local, state, and health authorities. Parents and volunteers should self-monitor for any health symptoms before a gathering. When planning activities, use of space, or groupings, consideration should be given to the ability to contact trace if an exposure occurs. Current quarantine protocol should be followed as necessary, and proper cleaning/disinfecting of indoor spaces and frequently touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, etc.) should continue.

Q. 7. Are youth ministry sessions and/or other summer faith formation sessions permissible for 2021?

Yes, with the pastor’s approval, there may be youth ministry sessions and/or summer faith formation sessions in person. Any larger gatherings should utilize outdoor spaces as a first option when possible, or large, well-ventilated indoor spaces with proper physical distancing observed. Group size should be limited to allow a reasonable, healthy distance between participants, per the current guidelines for gatherings posted by local, state, and health authorities. All participating youth and adults should self-monitor for any health symptoms before a gathering. When planning activities, use of space, or groupings, consideration should be given to the ability to contact trace if an exposure occurs. Current quarantine protocol should be followed as necessary, and proper cleaning/disinfecting of indoor spaces and frequently touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, etc.) should continue.

Q. 8. What about scouting meetings at the parish or other ministry group meetings (e.g., small group Bible studies, senior adult ministry gatherings, etc.)?

A. Scouting and other similar groups fall under the youth ministry guidelines above, and other small group ministry gatherings would fall under the same guidelines above related to faith formation. Ultimately, it is at the pastor’s discretion. There may be reasons for a more gradual and incremental return to various in-person ministry activities and meetings, depending on the circumstances of each parish. In any case, all current local, state, and health guidelines should be followed, including consideration given to the ability to contract trace if an exposure occurs.

Q. 9. Will sports be allowed in school and parish facilities this summer and fall?

Summer:

Outdoor camps and sports for Catholic Metro Sports (CMS), elementary feeder programs, and high schools are permissible: the current protocols have been effective and should continue to be implemented during summer outdoor camps and sports, with the exception of temperature screenings. You do not need to take temperatures. Parents should continue to conduct self-monitoring assessments, which includes parental responsibility regarding temperature taking/screening. CMS Volleyball may begin practice in the summer months (based on availability of gym space at participating schools). (see below for additional volleyball information)

2021/22 School year:

CMS: All outdoor sports may resume at all age groups. CMS current protocols have been effective and must continue with the exception of temperature screenings, which may be discontinued. Cohorting is strongly encouraged. Additional spectators may be included as long as adequate space and the association can manage larger groups of parents/families. Proper and sufficient protocols must be identified for contact tracing. All rosters MUST be provided to the school principals prior to the season of play. All positive cases and/or exposures to positive cases, MUST be reported to the school principals immediately. Due to possible co-mingling of students and the number of locations potentially affected by one exposure, the entire team is required to quarantine, and practice/games would be cancelled during the quarantine period. THIS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE.

CMS volleyball should limit the number of players and spectators in the gyms to allow for proper physical distancing. Spectators are required to wear masks.  Sufficient time MUST be provided to clean and sanitize the gym (bleachers and bathrooms) between practices and games and cleaning and sanitation must be done by CMS representatives, unless otherwise directed by the school. Proper and sufficient air ventilation/circulation is required. Proper and sufficient protocols must be identified for contact tracing. Due to possible co-mingling of students and the number of locations potentially affected by one exposure, the entire team would be required to quarantine, and practice/games would be cancelled during the quarantine period. THIS IS NON-NEGOTIABLE. Decisions regarding basketball and other fall sports for the 2021-2022 school year will be made prior to the registration period.

Q. 10. What protocols should be followed when planning for parish faith formation in the fall?

At the pastor’s discretion, fall faith formation can return in person. **For parishes that have used Catholic school space, please work with your school authorities to determine whether it will be possible to use school space in the fall. The Office of Formation and Discipleship (OFD) continues to encourage parishes to take advantage of this time to implement/continue the path of family faith formation. OFD will continue to provide the Families Forming Disciples (FFD) program in English/Spanish for a second year, with a third year to follow in 2022-2023. For parishes planning to return to a classroom model, please do not hesitate to reach out to OFD staff for ideas to make a family dimension an integral part of faith formation. The Families Forming Disciples program can be adapted in various ways.

More particular guidance on gathering sizes and use of space will be determined closer to August 2021. For planning purposes, use of outdoor spaces and physical distancing guidelines should be taken into account, per the latest guidance from local, state and health authorities. At the pastor’s discretion, hybrid models of in-person sessions and virtual sessions may be an effective method based on circumstances. For faith formation involving children and young people, all-virtual programs are not recommended when in-person gatherings are possible.

Q. 11. Will Confirmation of young people have specific health restrictions and guidelines?
  1. The bishops have the option to use a cotton swab to apply the Sacred Chrism. If this is the option a bishop chooses, please dispose of the cotton swabs by burning after the liturgy is over. The bishop and the confirmandi should be wearing masks as the sacrament is conferred. A verbal exchange of peace can replace a handshake, if needed. Receptions, especially with food, are discouraged.

The full liturgy guidelines can be found here.

The scheduling of confirmations taking place between January 2022 and July 2022 has begun. Please complete and submit the attached request form by mail or e-mail (one submission only). If you choose to submit the request form by e-mail, be sure to attach the completed form to the e-mail.

Please note that the request forms are handled on a first-come first-serve basis on Archbishop Hartmayer’s, Bishop Konzen’s and Bishop Shlesinger’s calendar. Parishes will be notified via email with a letter confirming the date, time and respective bishop no later than Friday, July 2. If you have any questions about scheduling a confirmation, please contact Mardessa Smith by phone at (404) 920-7303 or e-mail, mwsmith@archatl.com.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

  • Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the most requested days for confirmation. Parishes located within the perimeter, please choose a weeknight no later than 6p.m. for your confirmation if possible.
  • The bishops are not available on the following dates in 2022:
    Monday, January 3-Friday, January 7
    Saturday, May 14
    Monday, June 13-Friday, June 17
  • If the number of confirmation candidates is fewer than ten (10), consider joining with a neighboring parish or celebrate the sacrament of confirmation every two years. The number of candidates should not exceed 80 at any confirmation Mass.
  • The fall 2023 confirmation schedule will open on Monday, January 3, 2022.
  • The spring 2023 confirmation schedule will open on Monday, June 6, 2022.
Q. 12. What if I do not wish to wear a mask at Mass? Isn’t social distancing enough?

A: Because this guidance is being updated often in light of vaccination rates and new information, parishes should consult and follow CDC guidelines on masking found here.  Please note that there is separate guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Q. 13. What should a parish do if they are informed that someone who attended Mass has gotten COVID-19?

A: Because this guidance is being updated often, parishes should consult and follow CDC guidelines on this issue, which can be found here. Please note that there is separate guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

Q. 14. If an Extraordinary Minister or other server (or priest) has had COVID-19, when can they return to ministry? What about a parishioner?

A: Because this guidance is being updated often, parishes should consult and follow CDC guidelines on this issue, which can be found here. Please note that there is separate guidance for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

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 parishioner 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.

Q. 15. For faith formation and youth gatherings, do parishes still need to add a waiver specific to COVID-19?

A: Yes, an assumption-of-risk form should still be used for the coming year. Forms are available at the links below.

Assumption of Risk Form

Content Type: DOC
Last Updated: July 24, 2020

Asunción Del Riesgo Relacionado Con Covid-19

Content Type: DOC
Last Updated: July 24, 2020
Q. 16. Once I get a vaccine, can I stop wearing a mask?

A: Because guidance on this changes often in light of vaccination rates in the area and new information, parishes should consult and follow CDC guidance, which can be found here.

Start typing and press Enter to search