Q: Is Shallowford open for any in-person gatherings now?
YES! We have a monthly in-person Drive-In Worship and a monthly in-person Drive Through fellowship or service event. Browse the website or your weekly newsletter for more information.
Shallowford is also open for small group gatherings, indoors and outdoors. Children’s ministry, youth ministry, music ensembles for all ages, Shallowford Presbyterian Women, and Shallowford Yoga are currently meeting in small groups on campus. Contact your staff liaison if you have questions about gathering on or off campus!
Q: Who decides when Shallowford is ready to take a reopening step, and how?
A: The COVID-19 task force makes recommendations to the session based on current information about the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and the session discusses and votes. The task force’s recommendations are based on two key metrics:
1- The number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Dekalb County.
2- The new COVID-19 PCR test positivity rate in Dekalb County.
Both of those metrics are tracked through the Georgia Department of Public Health.
Q: Why isn’t Shallowford to large group gatherings now, when some churches around us are?
A: We are all eager to be back together in larger groups, and we will do so as soon as we safely can. Shallowford’s session is committed to protecting our beloved church community, and to gather too soon would put our members and our church at risk. The session’s decisions are based upon our faith in God, our understanding of the science of COVID-19, and our biblical command to love our neighbors.
Q: Can individual Shallowford groups start gathering now?
A: Yes, individual Shallowford groups are welcome to gather if that suits your group’s needs. Groups can meet outside in groups of up to 25, or inside in most rooms in groups of up to 10. All Shallowford groups are asked to mask, socially distance themselves, and check in/out with a specific Shallowford covenant. Talk to your staff liaison for more information about how to schedule group time on or off campus. Remember that meeting in-person may not be the best option for every group, as we continue our mission of inviting all people.
Q: What is happening with Sunday morning worship?
A: For the time being, we will continue to have our 11:00am service online only, while adding smaller in-person worship opportunities at other times. This helps us to ensure that no one is excluded from our main worship service. As guided by the task force and the session, we hope to gather in physically distanced groups in the outdoors, in the Great Hall, and the sanctuary when it is safer to do so.
Q: What about Sunday school?
A: In order to continue inviting all people, Shallowford Sunday school classes will continue to meet on Zoom for the time being.
Q: When will we be able to worship together in the sanctuary?
A: The task force will continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in our area and make recommendations to the session when it is safer to gather in larger groups in the sanctuary. In the meantime, we will continue offering creative outdoor, small group, and online worship opportunities!
Q: Will worship continue to be streamed or recorded for people who stay home?
A: Yes! The pandemic has introduced a new way of “inviting” people to Shallowford and staying connected when we are absent, and we expect that live streaming will continue once the pandemic subsides.
Q: Are we saying that persons at higher risk are not welcome at Shallowford?
A: Absolutely not! We will continue to live out our mission of inviting all people to a faithful way of life in Christ and in community. We encourage people to use their judgment and follow health and public safety guidelines, and we will stay connected through technology with all people who are unable or uncomfortable returning to campus in person.
Q: How are we reducing the risk of spreading the virus as we start gathering in person?
A: We are asking all people who visit the Shallowford campus to abide by these 10 guidelines:
- Take reservations in advance to ensure that no more than the approved number people attend a group gathering.
- Sign in and out using the QR code posted at the church entrances, to comply with contact tracing.
- Take your temperature, and anyone with a fever of 100.4 or higher will be required to return home.
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering at all times, even outdoors.
- Practice social distancing at all times, remaining at least 6 feet away from other people.
- Sanitize your hands regularly and refrain from touching each other.
- Stay in the part of campus you have reserved, to help with sanitation and contact tracing.
- If you are in an indoor space: Refrain from rearranging the chairs/tables, in order to respect our facilities staff and other groups.
- Limit group gatherings to 45 minutes or less, in order to reduce risk and respect other groups who may have reservations.
- Inform Shallowford if you test positive for COVID-19 after attending a Shallowford gathering, in order to protect others.
Q: Why is the number of people per small group limited?
A: The risk of COVID-19 increases as the size of a crowd increases, and we want to reduce the risk of an outbreak at Shallowford. At this point, the session has approved gatherings of 25 people outdoors, in the Great Hall, and in the Sanctuary. In all other smaller spaces, gatherings should be limited to 10 people.
Q: Are we providing childcare on campus as we begin gathering in groups?
A: Physical distancing is very difficult for young children, so we will not be able to open the nursery when we first begin gathering on campus. We will reopen the nursery as soon as it is safe to do so.
Q: What is happening with music at Shallowford, in light of COVID-19?
A: Music is vital to our congregational life. As we move forward, Shallowford will continue to support Atlanta instrumentalists, the choir will continue to be a vibrant community, and music will continue to be a key part of our worship together. Currently, the choirs are rehearsing on Zoom and gathering in small ensembles for masked in-person rehearsals.
Q: How has the pandemic impacted Shallowford’s financial health?
A: Thanks to the generosity of Shallowford’s members and the leadership of the session, Shallowford continues to be in a healthy financial position. Through quick action, Shallowford applied and received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program, which we expect to be fully forgiven, and we are projecting a surplus at the end of the year. This stewardship season is like no other, and we ask members to continue practicing generous stewardship by giving online or mailing contributions to the church office.
Q: What is happening with the Shallowford School?
A: With strict COVID-19 protocol, Shallowford School reopened to grade school classes in September and preschool (ages 3+) in October. All indoor classes have fewer than 10 people, including teachers.
Q: What should I do if I have ideas about ways to gather?
A: Share them! Send your ideas to the appropriate committee (worship, education, etc.), and the committees will send proposals to the task force or session as we progress through our stage-by-stage return plan.
Q: What can Shallowford members be doing NOW to prepare for returning to the campus?
A: We encourage you to practice wearing and speaking through a mask, and practice greeting friends and family in new ways from a safe distance. Stay connected with your church family through cards, phone calls, and technology. Pray for our session and our church community, know that the session and staff are praying for you, and trust that God is with us, now and always!
Q: When will we hear from the task force again?
A: The Task Force hosts a Town Hall Webinar at the end of every monthly. Visit this page for upcoming Town Hall dates and Zoom login information.
Q: What should I do if I have more questions or concerns?
A: We would love for you to email the task force at [email protected]. The task force meets every Tuesday, and someone will follow up with you as soon as possible.