As we make plans for upcoming mission trips, we are looking 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 worth the effort more than ever before!
As of right now, EM's Short Term Mission Trips will focus on work-project-based ministry, with some exceptions. This means that trips may not include some of the same relational ministry opportunities* as they have in past years, such as Kids Club, serving at nursing homes, or engaging 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.
NOTE: EM Covid-19 Safety Guidelines are based on up-to-date recommendations by the CDC. If any guidelines listed below come in conflict with state, local or community guidelines (or the safety preferences of EM's community partners), EM volunteer teams will be asked to follow the more safety-conscious guidelines between the two.
EM’s Covid Safety Guidelines (Updated 3/30/22)
1. EM highly recommends that all volunteers get vaccinated for Covid-19 before their trip
- At this time, a Covid vaccination is not a requirement to serve (with the exception of trips to Washington, D.C.), but it is strongly recommended as an effective way to better ensure the health and safety of EM Community Partners, local community members, team members, and EM field staff.
2. 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 with results uploaded to the online MyMission account of the team leader or team members.
- Rapid test results will be accepted (except for mission trips to Chicago, which require a PCR test result).
- Participants who test positive for Covid-19 WILL NOT be allowed to participate in the mission trip and must stay home.
- Because of this, we recommend taking an earlier rapid test 7 days before your trip, to give yourself an opportunity to fall within the CDC-recommended 5-day quarantine window if you test positive with no symptoms or improving symptoms.
- Team members who are partially or fully vaccinated 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 as long as it has been 5 days since any symptoms first appeared (and 24 hours after any fever has resolved without medication) and all other symptoms are improving.
3. Masks will be required in some situations:
- Internationally — In all public spaces
- Domestically — Indoors in all public spaces (minus housing locations)
- Individually — When a team member exhibits 1 or more Covid symptoms (until after receiving a negative test result—see #4)
- To do our best to not bring Covid cases into the community, we strongly encourage all teams to take extra care during the two weeks before your trip to intentionally avoid situations where the potential for Covid-19 exposure is high.
- Volunteers are required to bring their own personal supply of medical masks, K-N95, K-N94, or N95 face masks, and must carry one on their person at all times.
- Consistent with CDC guidance and persistent spread of variants, cloth masks, neck gaiters, handkerchiefs, plastic face shields, and masks that have exhalation valves or vents will NOT be considered appropriate masks on their own.
- Group leaders will be notified 1 week before your trip if local communities and partners no longer require masks in some or all circumstances.
3. Social distancing will be enforced between volunteers and at-risk members of the local community.
- This means staying at least 6 ft. apart from at-risk local community members at all times, including mealtimes, at housing facilities, on worksites, and during any and all community activities. Your team will be notified when this is necessary.
- Individual mission trip team members will NOT be required to socially distance among themselves and other volunteers unless a Covid outbreak is detected during the trip.
4. Rapid antigen Covid-19 tests will be required for all Team Members with potential Covid symptoms.
- To ensure we're doing the best we can to stay on top of any infections not caught by pre-trip Covid testing, rapid tests will be required for any Team Members exhibiting 1 or more of the following symptoms during the trip:
- Cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing
- Fever or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- New loss of taste or smell
- Each group will be required to bring 2 at-home Covid-19 tests per person in order to ensure there is enough supply of tests should any team members exhibit symptoms listed above.
- Team members who have any symptoms listed above will be allowed to participate after receiving a Negative Covid-19 test result.
- Out of an abundance of caution, if a volunteer feels ill with 1 or more of the symptoms listed above, the entire team must wear masks at all times, even when together, until it is determined whether the sick volunteer has tested positive for Covid-19 or not.
- In the event a Team Member tests positive for Covid-19, the entire team will be required to take rapid Covid-19 tests to ensure the virus hasn't spread among the team. 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 with positive test results or altering the remainder of the trip for the team.
- If there are not an adequate amount of rapid tests available for the team, it will be the responsibility of the Team Leader to help the volunteer obtain test results and notify EM field staff of results.
- Any costs related to testing, medical care, or the need to quarantine will be the sole responsibility of the individual or the team. Additionally, all oversight of the care for any team member feeling ill or showing symptoms will be managed by the Team Leader.
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 distanced 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.
* Some mission trips will continue to feature relational ministry opportunities. Your EM Support contact can give you specifics for the community you're interested in serving. EM will determine whether or not “Kids Club” children’s ministry programs will be a part of each mission trip a few months before trips are set to take place.
NOTE: Mission trips to Chicago, IL, Rio Grande Valley, TX, and many international communities are coordinated and led by local community partners and will follow similar guidelines, if not exactly the same.
We understand it may be frustrating to think about continuing to wear masks in a highly relational and exciting environment where these things used to not be 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.
God continues to do great things in and through each mission trip. We humbly thank you for putting your trust in our team at EM.
Interested in bringing your group on an upcoming 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