We’re open and ready when you’re ready to come back to church!

If you’ve been in-and-out, on vacation, watching online, or just got out of your rhythm and are wondering about when to head back to church, we’re ready when you are! All of our environments—preschool through adult—are open, clean, and ready for you and your family. We know everyone isn’t at the same place and ready to return, and that’s okay. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll be here!

We know you have questions about what it looks like around here, what changes we’ve made on Sunday mornings, and what it will look like now. Our team has taken the time to answer some of the most frequently asked questions below for each environment.

General Questions

What if I am not ready to come back in person to attend or serve?

We understand that there is a range of feelings when it comes to returning to attend or serve in-person, and we respect everyone’s decision to do what is best for their personal and family’s health. Our desire is to support all families in their decisions whether you join us in-person or at home. For the summer, we will continue to stream our services live online at 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. We would love for you to join us on Sundays at AthensChurch.com/online.

We will continue weekly, online family content to supplement our Sunday morning environments throughout the summer. We are also exploring other opportunities to provide those who are staying at home during this time with take-out curriculum and activities, weekly digital resources, and short-term, digital parenting groups.

What symptoms should I be looking for in my children and family for COVID-19?

Everyone is encouraged to take their temperature before coming to Athens Church. Anyone who plans to join us must be free from COVID-19 symptoms each week.

If, during the hour, any of the following symptoms appear in children of any age, parents or guardians will be contacted and must pick up their child from Waumba Land, UpStreet, Transit or InsideOut immediately after  being notified. (Children will immediately be removed from their room and moved to an isolated area).

Symptoms include:

  • Fever of 100.4º Fahrenheit or higher
  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chills
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches

While many of these symptoms can also be related to non-COVID-19 health concerns, we are proceeding with an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our children, families, and volunteers during this season.

What if someone in our household tests positive for COVID-19?

Parents or guardians should notify Athens Church if they become aware that anyone in their household tests positive for COVID-19. If an individual in a small group tests positive for COVID-19, our team will notify each person present that day in the group with this information.

What if I have questions that aren’t answered here?

If you have other questions that are not answered above, please email them to the respective environment below and one of our staff members will follow up with answers or clarifications.

For preschool-age questions, please email WaumbaLand@AthensChurch.com

For elementary-age questions, please email UpStreet@AthensChurch.com

For middle school and high school questions, please email students@athenschurch.com

For adult environment questions, please email info@athenschurch.com

Adult Environments

What health precautions will be taken in the adult environments?

Our team has taken a number of precautions to help ensure the health and safety of all our attendees, volunteers, and staff. Those steps include but are not limited to:

  • Removed every-other-row in each adult environment
  • Ask each household to keep 3 seats between their household and the next household
  • Prop open all doors
  • No passing of giving buckets
  • Touchless giving boxes at all doors
  • All coffee will be prepared and served by our Guest Services
  • Anyone is welcome to wear face coverings, but they are not required to do so.

What steps are you taking to disinfect and sanitize the Auditorium, Theater, bathrooms, and other common areas?

During the week, our cleaning team sanitizes frequently touched surfaces (handles, counters, etc.) and carpets with hospital grade disinfectant.

On Sundays, our cleaning team will be cleaning frequently touched surfaces (handles, counters, etc.) with hospital grade disinfectant as well.

How have maximum capacities changed for the adult environment?

Our team has used a social distance calculator alongside government recommendations as a guide to maintain the appropriate maximums for each of our adult environments. As a result, our team has decided the Auditorium and Theater will operate at a lower capacity in order to ensure the health and safety of our attendees, volunteers, and staff.

Preschool & Elementary Environments

What new check-in procedures are going to happen?

Waumba Land will utilize the check-in desk located at the Preschool & Elementary entrance of the building. The check-in process will be a touch-less process done by a host team member before entering Waumba Land or UpStreet.

UpStreet will utilize the check-in desk closest to the Auditorium for entry. Check-in will take place at the kiosks on the UpStreet hall.

What health precautions will be taken?

Parents are encouraged to take their child’s temperature before coming to Waumba Land or UpStreet. Both Waumba Land and UpStreet will be checking temperatures with touchless thermometers for all children, parents, and volunteers before entering their environment. All children, parents, and volunteers will be offered hand sanitizer before entering their environment. Only one parent or adult per family will be allowed inside Waumba Land or UpStreet at a time for check-in and check-out. We join Athens-Clarke County in highly encouraging our volunteers and families to wear masks.

During the time your child is in Waumba Land or UpStreet, children and staff will be required to wash their hands throughout the hour using warm running water and rubbing with soap for at least 20 seconds when possible. Hand sanitizer will be used as an alternative.

What extra steps are you taking to disinfect and sanitize rooms?

Our team has taken time to revisit all of our cleaning procedures during the time we haven’t been meeting on campus on Sundays.

As a result, we wanted to share our updated cleaning procedures that happen before, during, and after Sunday morning services.

Before Sundays – During the week, each environment has staff and volunteers who come in to thoroughly clean. Their cleaning procedure are listed below:

  • Wash hands before entering the hallway to clean.
  • Disinfect all computer keyboards and screens, counters, and check-in kiosk countertops
  • Disinfect all flat surfaces including trash cans, door knobs, cabinet handles, light switches
  • Disinfect shared supplies
  • Disinfect all changing tables and kitchen sets/playhouses  (Waumba Land only)
  • Wash hands after leaving the hallway

On Sundays – On Sunday mornings the procedures and policies our volunteers and staff follow are listed below. All cleaning procedures are carried out after each service is over to ensure all items are sanitized. They are also carried out during service on an as needed basis.

Handwashing Policy

Volunteers wash or sanitize their hands…

  • Before entering Waumba Land or UpStreet.
  • Before leaving for Large Group.
  • Before leaving Waumba Land or UpStreet.
  • Before changing a diaper or helping a child in the restroom.
  • After changing a diaper or helping a child in the restroom.
  • After wiping or blowing noses.
  • Volunteers will wear gloves while changing diapers in Waumba Land.

Toy-Cleaning Procedure (Waumba Land Only)

  • Remove all soft toys that cannot be cleaned.
  • After each service hour clean all toys and surfaces with appropriate cleaner (Sani 512), allow the spray to sit on the toys for 3 minutes, wipe clean with paper towels, and air-dry.
  • Any toys that are placed in a child’s mouth will be immediately and thoroughly cleaned.
  • Bring any broken or damaged toys to the Volunteer Room.

How have maximum room capacities and ratios changed?

Our team has used a social distance calculator alongside government recommendations as a guide to maintain the appropriate childcare maximums and ratios. As a result, Waumba Land and UpStreet have decided to operate at 50% capacity in order to ensure the health and safety of our children, families, and volunteers.

What about social distancing with children?

We understand that children don’t understand how to social distance. However, we are looking at new ways to implement small group and large group to help maintain those guidelines.

Small Group

There will be a limited number of children per group and room. We will also limit shared supplies. There will be no snacks. All activities will be done within the small group circle or at the table. Children will be led to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently. 

Large Group

There will be spaced out seating for children and leaders. We will also be adjusting our large group production to include digital content and one Large Group host to reduce the number of volunteers on-stage to better accommodate our volunteer to children ratios in small groups.

Will my child be in the same room and with the same small group leader?

We have adjusted our room ratios and groups for smaller numbers of children and volunteers. On Sunday, August 9, we promoted your children to the next age-group or grade. We are making every effort to maintain our small group environment with consistent assigned rooms and small group leaders.

Student Environments

What will check-in look like?

There will be only one check-in location per ministry environment. Both Transit and InsideOut will be done by a host team volunteer before a student enters into each environment. Free-standing kiosks will not be used. Students waiting to check-in will have visual decals to observe social distancing.

What health precautions will be taken?

Parents are encouraged to take their student’s temperature before coming to church. Both Transit and InsideOut will be checking temperatures with touch-less thermometers for all staff and volunteers. All students, parents, and volunteers will be offered hand sanitizer before entering their environment. Anyone is welcome to wear face coverings, but they are not required to do so.

What steps are you taking to sanitize each environment?

Our team has taken time to revisit all of our cleaning procedures during the time we haven’t been meeting on campus on Sundays.

As a result, we wanted to share our updated cleaning procedures that happen before, during, and after Sunday morning services.

Before Sundays – During the week, each environment has staff and volunteers who come in to thoroughly clean. Their cleaning procedure are listed below:

  • Wash hands before entering the hallway to clean.
  • Wipe down all surfaces with Clorox wipes
  • Wipe down all trash can lids in classroom with Clorox wipes
  • Disinfect shared supplies with Clorox wipes and Lysol spray

On Sundays – On Sunday mornings the procedures and policies our volunteers and staff follow are listed below. All cleaning procedures are carried out after each service is over to ensure all items are sanitized. They are also carried out during service on an as needed basis.

In every small group room will be:

  • Clorox wipes
  • Santi 512
  • Lysol spray
  • Hand sanitizer

After small group, leaders will disinfect all commonly touched surfaces in the room (i.e. couches, tables, chairs, door handles).

How have room capacities changed?

Our team has used a social distance calculator alongside government recommendations as a guide to maintain the appropriate childcare maximums and ratios. As a result, Transit and InsideOut have decided to operate at 50% capacity in order to ensure the health and safety of our students, families, and volunteers.

Ticketing is an integral part of our plan for limiting capacities and maintaining ratios. Tickets will be required and checked for family ministry environments.

What about social distancing?

We understand that students are difficult to enforce social distancing. However, we are looking at new ways to implement small group and large group to help maintain those guidelines, as well as encouraging leaders and volunteers to help encourage social distancing among students.

Pre-Function

Students will be encouraged to hang out in small groups. Game systems, tables, and other games will be wiped down between uses. Donuts will be individually handed out by a volunteer with appropriate safety attire (masks and gloves).

Large Group

Students will be encouraged to spread out with their small group. We will also be adjusting our large group production that will limit the amount of time in the large group room.

Small Group

There will be a limited number of students per group and room (8 total people per room). Small groups that have more than 8 total people will either split into different groups or meet in a larger space. Students will be led to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.

Phases, Progression & Options

The leadership of Athens Church has been praying about the wisest & safest plan of re-opening our church. Of course, these plans are subject to change. We are hopeful this roadmap will help people make the best choices as we navigate this season together.

Due to our size and family ministry model, coming back together requires a patient, progressive approach. Our current plan is outlined below. At the bottom of this page you will find some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.

Phase 1: Online Only

During the first phase, all services, small group meetings, and other weekly environments move to an online format.

  • Sunday morning services have been streamed live online at 10:00 a.m. and available on-demand afterward.
  • Family Ministries—preschool through high school—content is moved online with weekly drive-thru, activity pickup options available based on age.

Phase 2: Outdoor Services & Events

During the second phase, we took a step towards meeting back together in-person by offering outdoor services and events. Also during this time, small groups held their weekly gatherings at the Green Space within the appropriate physical distancing guidelines.

Mother’s Day Weekend

May 7-9
Mother’s were celebrated over Thursday, Friday, and Saturday with a contact-free photo spot and individual treats available on the Green Space.

Drive-In Services

May 17 & May 24
People drove onto our campus, park in our parking lot, and experience our Sunday morning service from the comfort of their vehicles. Our band was live on The Plaza—near the Athens Church sign at the front of our building.

  • Sunday morning services will be streamed live online at 10:00 a.m. and available on-demand afterward.
  • Family Ministries content is still online with weekly drive-thru, activity pickup options available based on age.

“On the Green Space” Services

May 31 & June 7
People will arrive on our campus, sit outside, and experience our Sunday morning service live on the Green Space. All “On the Green Space” services will be limited-ticket events in order to limit capacity. We will offer two service times—9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.

  • Sunday morning services will be streamed live online at 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and will be available on-demand afterward.
  • Family Ministries—preschool through high-school—content is still online with age group specific activities planned to take place on the Green Space during the week.

Phase 3: Multi-Option Services

During the third phase, we are looking to take the next step towards meeting together in-person by providing both multi-option service—both indoor and outdoor. The auditorium will open with an adjusted seating plan.

  • Some of the “Contact” elements like bulletins and offering buckets will remain absent for the time being.
  • We welcome anyone who chooses to wear masks or other personal protection equipment, but we do not plan to require volunteers or staff to do so.

Multi-Option Service

June 14
As part of our multi-option approach, we will have three venues open for each service time: the Auditorium, the Theater, and the Green Space. All multi-option services will be limited-ticket options in order to manage capacity

  • Sunday morning services will be streamed live online at 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and will be available on-demand afterward.
  • Family Ministries—preschool through high-school—content is still online with age group specific activities planned to take place on the Green Space during the week.

Multi-Option Service PLUS Family Ministry Environments

June 21 & June 28
As part of our multi-option approach, we will have three venues open for each service time: the Auditorium, the Theater, and the Green Space. All multi-option services will be limited-ticket options in order to manage capacity

  • Sunday morning services will be streamed live online at 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and will be available on-demand afterward.
  • Family Ministries environments—from preschool through high school—will be open with limited capacity.

For more information about new procedures and process for all of our environments, visit our FAQs for reopening.

Phase 4: Fully Reopen

July 12 and Beyond
During the fourth phase, we are looking to take the final step back and meet together in-person and resume weekly services in all environments.

  • Sunday morning services will be streamed live online at 9:15 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and will be available on-demand afterward.
  • Family Ministries environments—from preschool through high school—will be open.