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Archives Diocese works with experts to develop reopening plan

May 13, 2020

OGDENSBURG – Bishop Terry R. LaValley is working with local health officials and professionals to develop a plan that will allow Masses to resume in the Diocese of Ogdensburg.

Bishop LaValley has been consulting with a committee of health and liturgy experts, including representatives of the Department of Health, the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, area medical center administration, the diocesan Office of Worship and local medical professionals as it develops the plan. The committee includes Dr. Dana McGuire, Dr. Andrew Williams, Dr. Tracy LaFlair, Dr. Lisa Breitenbach, Nurse Practitioner Rita Crowley, Registered Nurses Sandy Lyons and Nancy Levac, and Father Bryan Stitt.

“As we work to transition to a possible gradual reopening of our churches and some institutions, I thought it was important that I get the best expertise I can from you, our health care professionals, as I try to design a plan or protocol for the churches in our diocese,” Bishop LaValley told the group.

While the public health professionals noted they’re still awaiting additional guidance from the state on the planned phased reopening, including dates churches could potentially resume worship, discussion centered around potential safety measures a reopening plan could include, as well as how the plan could be impacted by regional differences within the diocese or a potential resurgence of the virus.

To begin the phased reopening, each region of the state needs to meet set criteria.

Public health officials noted they are cooperating across the region to get testing and tracing systems in place that will allow the North Country to enter phase one of reopening as soon as possible.

The diocese has also been reviewing plans established by other dioceses around the nation, as well as plans developed by the Thomistic Institute, as a plan for local reopening is developed.

Additional details will be provided as the plan is developed and the diocese moves toward resuming worship.

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