Updated May 4, 2021
PAM is committed to hosting a safe conference in-person. In doing so, we will follow all of the guidelines set by both the state of North Carolina and Montreat Conference Center. Masks, social distancing, and other COVID precautions will be in place for our conference. Additionally, PAM will provide further information to all of our conferees as we work with government and conference center officials to define the best practices for our event.
Health and safety are our top priorities as we look forward to gathering together this summer.
The Latest News from Montreat
Before You Arrive in Montreat
See how many of your participants can be vaccinated before you travel! Every state has different criteria and availability, but eligibility is widening in a lot of places. In North Carolina, all residents age 16 and up are eligible to be vaccinated beginning April 7. Vaccinated people who are exposed to COVID-19 do not have to isolate for 10 days following exposure, so having vaccinated adults and youth in your group is great for public health and great for maintaining the functioning of your group if someone in the group comes down with symptoms!
Montreat will provide you with a pre-arrival symptom checker to be followed by EACH PERSON who will be traveling with the group. This checker covers the 14 days prior to arrival. This form will be turned in for each individual at registration.
Ask any unvaccinated youth or adults in your group to stay home a much as possible during the 14 days prior to departure, get tested 5 days prior to departure, or both. Knowing that you've done one or both of these best practices will give you peace of mind as you prepare for the trip to Montreat.
While You Are In Montreat
These requirements are laid out in North Carolina’s guidelines for overnight camps:
Church Group Leaders will be responsible for conducting a daily symptom screening of participants using this screening tool Montreat provides. Bring your own thermometer!
Church Group Leaders will be responsible for immediately isolating a sick participant from others in the group and arranging a COVID test. COVID-19 testing is readily available in Black Mountain.
If a participant has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is presumed positive by a medical professional due to symptoms, the participant should be isolated until they meet the CDC criteria for release from isolation:
No fever for at least 24 hours since recovery (without the use of fever-reducing medicine) AND
Other symptoms have improved (e.g., coughing, shortness of breath) AND
At least 10 days have passed since the individual first had symptoms.
Obviously, the length of time required to achieve these criteria is longer than the conference itself. Church Leaders should have a plan for getting participants back home or, if that's not possible, keeping that participant isolated from the rest of the group for the remainder of the trip.
Montreat will work with our local health department to identify close contacts of confirmed cases. Close contacts are defined by the CDC as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.
Depending on your housing situation, there's a possibility that each unvaccinated person in your group would have to isolate if you have one positive case in your group, because each person would be a close contact of the infected person. This is why we are working so hard to limit the number of close contacts each participant will have at the conference. We want everyone to be able to particulate fully all week!
DINING ROOM PLANS FOR SUMMER 2021-Guests will be required to wear masks while inside the Assembly Inn. This includes the Galax Dining room. The only time guests will be allowed to remove their mask is while they are seated and actively eating and drinking. All staff will be masked at all times.-Guests will be given hand sanitizer as they enter the Galax Dining Room. Hand sanitizer will also be available on tables, at beverage and bussing stations.-We’ll be serving buffet style and beverage stations will be open.-Gloves will be provided for guests to use if they wish to wear while going down the buffet line -Guests will be asked to social distance while they are in line-Conference dining times will be extended. Depending on meal numbers per week, groups might be staggered, or might be called forward when it is their time to enter the buffet line.-Tables will be assigned to groups and groups will eat at their assigned table for every meal. A plan will be made for individuals based on weekly meal numbers.
The Galax Dining Room will return to buffet service mid-May 2021. You will be asked to move through the line with a mask on and six feet apart if possible. Furniture has been arranged to meet restaurant social distancing guidelines for our state. Please do not move any dining room furniture. Table occupancy may be limited. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Dining room attendants will be available if you need anything while eating. Please note that these arrangements are subject to change based on state and local mandates and best safety practices.
Lobby furniture has not been moved for social distancing. We’re counting on guests to remember to keep your distance, and to only sit with members of your family or those you traveled with.
Program Adaptations for the in-person Worship & Music Conference
Limiting the capacities of our larger gatherings (adult choir, worship, and seminars)
Limiting the duration of all gatherings
Assigned seating in Anderson Auditorium
Limiting worship services and evening events to registered conferees only
Making Small Groups smaller
Adjusting the daily schedule to allow for all of the above
Maximizing the use of outdoor spaces
Statement on singing from PAM:
“We hope to do some singing in worship at Montreat; however, as at the 2020 Conference, PAM will adapt to whatever situation is before us. If we are able to sing in worship, outdoors or indoors - we will wear masks and be distanced. The best ways for us to be together and worship together safely at the conference are to wear masks, remain distanced, and, where possible, to be vaccinated. As of today, 100% of the conference faculty and staff are fully vaccinated. We strongly encourage all conferees to be fully vaccinated before arriving at the conference to protect themselves and others.”
With current limitations on Anderson Auditorium capacity, we cannot guarantee access to conference elements for non-registered participants. We hope that can change, and if it does we will spell out how participation will work, but for the present time we are not able to accommodate non-registered participants.
We are offering an online-only option for our 2021 conference, not only as a way to participate safely in the conference, but also, in the words of 2020 Routley Lecturer Mel Bringle, to "draw the welcome circle wider" and allow individuals from across the United States and the world to join us as they did for our 2020 conference.
Of course, some things cannot be known at this time, but PAM is prepared with multiple options for the summer.
PAM's conference directors, planning team, and office staff have worked diligently to imagine and reimagine what our conference can be - even amid the challenges we face. We are grateful for your prayers as we continue to move forward. Thank you for your support!