Oakville church installing “pew guards” to help prevent spread of COVID-19

Missouri

OAKVILLE, Mo. – St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Oakville has taken 15 different measures to try and keep worshipers safe and comply with the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines.

For example, masks are required inside the church. Lead Pastor Rev. Mike Roth wondered if more could be done.

“I was at the grocery store and of course you see the shields all over the place,” he said.

Roth wondered if shields like the ones in front of grocery store cashiers could be installed on church pews. One church member with a construction background designed a bracket that would allow the shield to attach to a pew without damaging the pew.

“There’s no part of this system that you have to screw into the pew,” Roth said.

The pastor checked with Laird Plastics in Maryland Heights and they created a sample bracket and shield that is now in place at the church. The church ordered enough shields to cover each pew without leaving a gap. Those shields are expected to arrive next week.

“Every pew here is going to get this end to end,” said Roth. “It will be seamless down each and every row.”

Roth said some worshipers crave the sense of community they experience when being part of a service. The church has been sharing worship services online but Roth said it’s been difficult for some church members to stay home.

“Studies that we’ve been reading as pastors have shown that the longer that that goes on it really plays into your psyche, almost like a prisoner put in isolation for an extended period of time,” Roth said.

FOX 2 checked with the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force for their reaction to the shields.

“These types of partitions can be helpful as a barrier but should be used in addition to wearing a mask and should never be used as a replacement for a mask,” said Dr. Alex Garza, head of the task force.

Roth agrees and hopes the shields will be an added layer of protection. He encourages any other religious body looking for more information to contact Laird Plastics in Maryland Heights.

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