None of us built our churches or our homes to provide for social distancing expectations. In a practical sense, what that means is that very few churches or homes have rooms large enough to accommodate large groups. This is especially true when we need to allow 6 feet of distance between people (or family groups).
Allow me to illustrate. Most people are 18-24 inches wide. Adding 6′ to my left, right, and front means that five people would barely fit into a 10’x10′ room. And it would require seating in an X-shape. It takes a 12’x12′ room for nine people if there are four couples. And they have to walk in one at a time and take the seats in the order listed (or similar). The person in the middle might be the teacher or the last one in the corner next to the door. See illustrations.
Social Distance for a Larger Room
On average, few but the largest of churches have larger rooms like these I am about to illustrate. If rooms are available, they tend to be multi-use spaces like fellowship halls, gyms, or sanctuaries. A room that is 10’x20′ only adds 3 more people–another in the middle and two in corners (not illustrated). A room that is 18’x18′ can accommodate 9 people. They would have to enter in the order listed (or similar). A room that is 22’x22′ with a mixture of individuals and couples could accommodate thirteen. The teacher could sit anywhere. But someone would need to assign seats to arrivers and the state the order of exiting the room. See illustrations.
Keep in mind that hallways narrower than 6′ in homes and churches are another social distance complication. They would require one-way flow of traffic. At church, you might plan for explanations in advance, arrows on the floor, and greeters standing in corners or out of the hallway (to give directions) to reduce confusion. You even might have to route foot traffic outside.
Some churches have gyms or fellowship halls which could accommodate groups larger than 9 people. Keep in mind, however, that when you use a space, every hard surface (even if not used) in the space (tables, chairs, floor, walls, windows, etc.) need to be cleaned after use. So you will want to remove all furnishings in a space that will not be used so there will be less that will require cleaning.
I know this is inconvenient. But I want to encourage you to be creative and stay safe and healthy. For the time being, it is likely that most classes larger than five people will find it best to meet on Zoom and other video conferencing programs.
I want to encourage you to sign up now for a free Webinar entitled Reentering Sunday School which will be offered on June 4, 7:30 PM (Eastern time). The information shared in this post and much more will be shared in that Webinar. PK Spratt and other Sunday School practitioners will be responding to some important key questions. Make disciples. Be revolutionary!
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