As we make plans for Summer 2021 Mission Trips, we are looking at everything through the primary lens of keeping both local communities and volunteers safe, while providing meaningful and life-changing opportunities for cross-cultural service and mutual impact for all involved. We believe it’s not only possible but that it will be worth the effort more than ever before!
EM's 2021 Short Term Mission Trips will focus on work-project-based ministry. Smaller groups of volunteers will be placed at given homes and worksites, and all contact with local people and homeowners will abide by appropriate social distancing and safety guidelines to protect both volunteers and community members from exposure to Covid-19. This means that trips may not include some of the same relational ministry opportunities* as they have in past years, such as serving at nursing homes or directly with people who are considered higher risk.
We ask for your flexibility and understanding with these changes. We believe doing our part to keep each mission trip community safe from Covid-19 will be a great way to honor and respect the dignity of those we serve while showing up to care for people who are often overlooked. Below are the CDC-recommended safety guidelines we will be following on all 2021 mission trips:**
EM’s 2021 Covid-19 Safety Guidelines
1. Negative Covid-19 tests will be required for ALL mission trip participants.
- Tests must be administered within 3 days of the start of the mission trip.
- Participants who test positive for Covid-19 will not be allowed to participate in the mission trip and must stay home.
- Team members who have received one or two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine are still required to submit proof of a negative test result within 3 days of the start of the trip.
- Participants who test positive because of previously contracting Covid-19 may participate in the mission trip by submitting a doctor’s note confirming they have fully recovered from the virus and are cleared to travel.
2. Masks will be required during most mission trip activities.
- Masks will be required in all indoor spaces not solely occupied or used by your volunteer team.
- Masks will also be required at all times when team members are out in public. This includes all worksites, ministry activities, and when you are in the company of a local community member, a member of a team other than your own, or EM Summer Staff.
- Volunteers are required to bring their own cloth face masks (5-6/person) or one-time-use paper masks (15-20/person) and must carry one on their person at all times.
- Consistent with CDC guidance, neck gaiters, handkerchiefs, plastic face shields, and masks that have exhalation valves or vents will NOT be considered an appropriate mask on their own.
3. Social distancing will be enforced between volunteers and anyone who is not part of your mission team.
- This means staying at least 6 ft. apart from EM Summer Staff and local community members at all times, including mealtimes, at housing facilities, on worksites, and during any and all community activities.
- Individual mission trip team members will NOT be required to socially distance between themselves and members of their own team. Each individual team will be considered a “bubble” for the duration of your mission trip.
4. Contactless temperature checks will be performed before the start of each workday.
- To ensure we’re doing the best we can to stay on top of any infections not caught by pre-trip Covid testing, checks will be performed by EM Summer Staff or Volunteer Team Leaders each morning before volunteers head out to worksites.
- Volunteers with a fever of 100.4°F or higher will not be allowed to participate in the day’s activities. Volunteers will be allowed to rejoin team activities if/when their high temperature goes below 100.4°F. Temperatures can be re-checked every 15 minutes.
- If any volunteer maintains a temperature above 100.4°F or shows other outward symptoms of sickness related to Covid-19, EM field staff will provide the location of the closest Covid testing site to the team leader, in order to help determine if the volunteer has been infected.
- Out of an abundance of caution, if a volunteer feels ill, the entire team must wear masks at all times, even when together, until it is determined whether the sick volunteer has Covid or not.
- It will be the responsibility of the team leader to help the volunteer obtain test results and notify EM field staff. In the event of a positive test, EM field staff will work in conjunction with team leaders and EM leadership to determine the best course of action related to quarantining team members or altering the remainder of the trip for the team.
- Any additional costs related to testing, medical care or the need to quarantine will be the sole responsibility of the individual or the team.
5. EM Summer Staff will follow CDC-recommended guidelines for sanitizing and keeping spaces safe for all volunteers and community members.
- These include, but are not limited to, making sure teams abide by the guidelines listed above, wearing masks at all times around volunteers and community members, wearing adequate additional PPE while preparing meals, and handling food, ensuring trips with multiple volunteer teams are managed properly to keep teams separate and safe from exposure, providing hand sanitizer or hand washing opportunities before all mealtimes and on worksites, and sanitizing all surfaces in eating, living, and sleeping areas between each week of new volunteer teams.
2021 Mission Trip teams will be required to submit a signed document stating all team members have read and understood EM’s specific safety guidelines for 2021 mission trips and agree to abide by them throughout the duration of their trip.
We understand it may be frustrating to think about social distancing or wearing masks in a highly relational and exciting environment where these things are not typically the norm. In this season, we are doing these things out of love for the people we come to serve. “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” (John 15:13) We believe it sends a powerful message of love to sacrifice a little of our personal freedom for the safety and health of others.
We are excited and ready for the challenge of continuing to make mission trips a reality in this unprecedented season, and we will be blessed by each and every team who takes on this challenge with us. God is going to do great things in and through each mission trip this year. We humbly thank you for putting your trust in our team at EM.
* EM will make a determination in March on whether or not “Kids Club” children’s ministry programs will be a part of any 2021 mission trips.
** EM Covid-19 Safety Guidelines are based on up-to-date recommendations by the CDC. If any CDC-recommended guidelines listed above come in conflict with state, local or community guidelines (or personal preferences of community partners), EM teams will be asked to follow the more conservative and safety-conscious guidelines between the two.
Interested in bringing your group on a 2021 mission trip? Fill Out an Interest Form today! We would love to help you decide when and where to serve together this year.
Fill Out an Interest Form