Effective immediately, and until further notice, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, in union with the Bishops of Pennsylvania, has dispensed the faithful of the Diocese of Scranton from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. Despite the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass, all regularly scheduled Masses will remain open to the public for those who wish to attend.
Also, during a news conference Thursday afternoon (3/12/20), Governor Wolf encouraged religious leaders statewide to exercise discretion in order to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and encouraged the suspension of large gatherings and events of 250 individuals or more. In the Diocese of Scranton, it is now strongly recommended that all non-essential parish and Diocesan events be temporarily cancelled or postponed.
Also, attached to this letter, is the latest updates regarding the Diocese of Scranton’s response to COVID-19.
Your careful adherence to these important matters is appreciated. Let us continue to pray for one another.
This document reflects the most recent guidance from the Diocese of Scranton regarding the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and steps our communities can take to help prevent its spread. The Diocese of Scranton will be updating this guidance in accordance with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health and local public health officials.
General Prevention and Preparedness
The health and safety of our parishioners, staff, students, families and clients that we serve are of paramount interest to the Diocese of Scranton. While there is much to learn about the coronavirus, based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about six feet). Current evidence suggests that the coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made of a variety of materials.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a pandemic, because of its severity and the rapid rates at which it has spread. However, the WHO stressed that deliberate preventative actions can stop the virus from spreading.
We ask that all members of our parishes, schools and human/social service agencies assist with the prevention of spreading viruses by following the following recommendations:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The Centers for Disease Control continues to update the Risk Level for each country. The Diocese of Scranton will continue to monitor this information and work to prevent this virus from spreading in our community. With that in mind, the Diocese of Scranton may require employees, students and/or families and clients that we serve who have been exposed to COVID-19 or are returning from countries designated as Risk Level 3 to remain home for 14 days upon returning to the United States or after contact with someone known to have or someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those individuals will also be required to provide a notice from a healthcare professional that they are free from flu-like symptoms in order to return to work or school.
As of March 12, 2020, the CDC indicated the following risk levels related to COVID-19:
Level 3: China, Iran, Italy and South Korea
If you have travelled or are planning to travel to countries indicated with Risk Level 3, please contact your supervisor or principal to discuss plans for return to work or school.
Catholic Youth Center
All state regulations are being strictly followed. Any child with a fever will be immediately sent home. In addition, any student with a fever will immediately be isolated from other children.
Parents have been provided information on the coronavirus and are instructed not to bring their child to the Catholic Youth Center if their child displays any of the symptoms.
Staff members have been told to stay home if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus or flu-like symptoms.
Toys and classroom items that children use during the day are normally cleaned/disinfected multiple times during the day. The importance of this procedure has been reinforced with staff and additional time has been given to each teacher’s schedule to stay after their shift to give the classroom a thorough cleaning and disinfection once the room is empty.
As per existing policy, all children and staff wash their hands multiple times during the day. All children must wash their hands upon arrival, prior to-and-after meals, after outdoor play time and before/after naps. Children typically wash their hands at a minimum of five times per day.
Staff members have also been instructed to wash their hands often during the day.
All hand rails and door handles will be disinfected after high traffic periods. Approximate times for this disinfection each day is 9:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
Hand sanitizer stations will be placed at both entrances and at the entrance to every classroom as soon as possible. Staff members are working with Cintas to provide the dispensers and sanitizer.