By Deacon Frank Agnoli
Sites around Iowa are beginning to report cases of influenza. We have been at an “immediate preparation” stage of readiness. With the onset of flu, please bring your preparations to “Step 1.”
Please review the Davenport Diocese’s flu policy. Step 1 focuses on basic hygiene and social distancing measures.
No changes in liturgical practices are called for at this time.
Step 1 Interventions
a) Review and update existing plans and protocols; complete any tasks from §§II-9102.1 and 9102.2 that remain undone.
b) Parish/institutional leadership are to remind staff, students and parishioners of proper cough and sneeze etiquette, hygiene and social distancing measures.
c) Set up hand-washing stations (tissues, trash receptacles, hand sanitizer, instructions/signage) whenever there is a large group gathering (including at church entrances); especially if there are insufficient washroom facilities.
d) Review and increase frequency of sanitizing door handles and other commonly touched solid surfaces.
e) Remind diocesan staff, clergy and parish/school communities of possible future steps. It is crucial that everyone be prepared for what to expect in the event of a pandemic.
f) Bring stockpiles up to levels that would allow for at least three weeks of activity without restocking.
g) Faith formation programs should be aware that camps, retreats, and other large youth gatherings may need to be postponed or cancelled, depending on local conditions. Youth ministers and catechists should keep up to date with the latest advice from public health authorities concerning such gatherings.
h) Schools should finalize plans for possible closure. Parents should be asked to prepare for this possibility, and should be reminded that:
If students are dismissed from schools, they should be encouraged not to re-congregate outside of school in large numbers.
If childcare facilities close and there is a need for childcare, families could plan to work together with two to three other families to supervise and provide care (using the same caregivers each day) for a small and consistent group of infants and young children while their parents are at work (studies suggest that childcare group size of five or fewer children may be associated with fewer respiratory infections).