Good/Better/Best Practices for Monitoring and Protecting Buildings and Grounds During Stay-at Home Period
No one should be working at a building under the auspices of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina unless for essential services such as direct services providing food, shelter or housing, or for the purposes of recording or livestreaming worship. Safety practices and physical distancing is to be practiced at all times.
- Set the thermostats to temps that save energy but also protect valuable property, such as an organ or the candles in the sacristy. One suggestion is 60˚F in cooler weather, 80˚F in warmer weather, but it is best to customize to your property needs. Be sure and check if the system is in A/C or Heat.
- Clear any contents likely to spoil from fridge/freezer, but leave appliances on.
- Make sure smaller appliances are turned off and unplugges if not in use.
- Ensure that all gas appliances are properly functioning or turned off safely.
- Either stop mail and package deliveries or have a person delegated to check the mail and receive packages.
- Have calls forwarded to a voicemail that can be checked remotely, forwarded to a cell phone, or include cell contact numbers for appropriate staff persons in the event someone calls the church/mission.
- No one should be working at the building unless for essential services such as direct services providing food, shelter or housing, or for the purposes of recording or livestreaming worship. Any work that can be done from home should be, especially if there are multiple staff or volunteers.
- Ensure that there is a clear internal chain of responsibility for building issues, and know who shall fill in for whom in the event that an administrator or minister is unable to perform their duties due to illness.
- Set up a schedule for the building to be checked daily. Avoid, if at all possible, having a single person on the property alone. It is best to have two people checking the premises at the same time but practicing proper physical distancing, along with the wearing of masks and gloves. If practically only one person can make the check, provide a plan whereby that person informs another when the check is beginning, when it should be complete and a check in when the check is concluded and the person is leaving the premises. Don’t take personal safety for granted.
- Make sure there is no garbage in the building which may rot or create issues with hygiene.
- Create or monitor a list of known problems (leaky pipes, HVAC issues, etc.).
- Inspect the whole facility inside and out daily.
- Check on known trouble spots current or in the past (i.e. see above).
- Check for buildup issues inside (cobwebs, dust, etc.).
- Remove trash from lawn.
- Create a rota of teams checking the facility.
- Ensure those on the schedule can contact one another in case someone has to miss their day and needs another person to cover for them.
- Have someone (vestry member, sexton, etc.) responsible for receiving the reports from daily check, including updates on any problems.
- Consider turning off water to building when not in regular use.
- Monitor utility use to ensure there aren’t odd spikes that may indicate a problem.
- Don’t stop pest control if your provider continues to offer these services.
- Unless essential services are still being performed on campus (i.e. feeding program, 12-step meetings, etc.) consider canceling or paring back cleaning services. (Consider compensation of cleaning staff, if possible.)
- Continue normal lawn maintenance and care to prevent creating an impression that the buildings and grounds are not being monitored. (Perhaps volunteers can be recruited if professional services are unaffordable or unavailable.)
- Secure points of entry.
- Doors, windows, out buildings, crawl spaces, etc., should be locked and secured.
- Consider notifying local law enforcement to let them know how long building will be vacant, and ask if it can be included on local patrol routes.
- Some may like to consider additional security services such as cameras to monitor packages, additional timed lights by doorways or poorly lit areas, and so on.
*If there is a building resident (such as a student resident at a campus ministry), they may be able to perform many of the Building Monitoring and Administration functions mentioned above. In such a case, it is all the more important to minimize others coming to and from the building. If someone must enter the building, give the resident reasonable notice about the visit so that they may take the proper precautions.
CHURCH INSURANCE* NOTES
Church Insurance*will not cancel any group benefits or property and casualty insurance nor charge interest for failure to make timely payments until June 30, 2020.
Church Insurance* announced on March 27, 2020 a 90-day hardship grace period for those who cannot make timely payments on insurance
*In this case “Church Insurance” is the actual name of the company that most (but not all) of the churches in the Episcopal Diocese utilize and this information pertains only to this specific company.
HELPFUL INSURANCE LINKS
These links may be helpful for more specific questions pertaining our individual situations
Church Insurance General Risk Management (helpful, with resources for hosting outside groups, protecting stained glass, doing an assets inventory, etc…)
Coalition of Endowed Episcopal Parishes Webinar: "Managing Empty Buildings in the Era of COVID-19”
Wednesday, April 22 at 3:00pm (Free)