Fall has arrived. That beautiful time filled with apples, pumpkins, colorful trees and crisp air. Unfortunately, this year it’s also filled with tiny, sometimes deadly, virus particles. Many of us thought the pandemic would be behind us by now (seriously, how is it not behind us?). Instead, it seems we need to figure out how to live with it in our midst.
Our Regathering Committee has been working on all the issues surrounding gathering in person for the last six months. You know how challenging it is to keep up with and make sense of the ever-changing pandemic. This team – currently Ray Gonzalez, Amy Glesius, Allan Georgia, Mike Carney, Ken Kuehm, and Randy Partain — has worked tirelessly on this. I am extremely grateful for the energy and dedication to this effort. We should all be.
At the September 28th meeting, our Board of Trustees grappled with the recommendation from the Regathering Committee regarding moving to in-person, indoor services in the sanctuary. Many of us have found the in-person, outdoor services to have been a great solution in the summer months. Of course, the weather hasn’t always cooperated, and is likely to be much less cooperative as the weeks go on. We needed to decide what follows outdoor services.
What we know is that Covid-19 is still here. We also know that we are a community, and as much as we’ve built some engaging virtual events and services – it isn’t the same. Many want to gather in person. In person, but safely. In the spring we built our Covenant for In-Person Gathering which continues to reflect our guiding principles as we determine our path.
As a congregation and as individuals, we need to take precautions based on the current facts. The rate of infection in our wider community is high. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are at risk of getting and transmitting Covid-19. We know that, when infected, vaccinated people are much less likely to have a serious illness. We know that, since COVID-19 is transmitted through air, that masks, social distancing, good airflow, and air purification are the most effective ways of limiting transmission when we choose to gather together indoors.
The Board agreed to the recommendation of the Regathering Committee, with the stipulation that the HEPA air purifiers be ready to go prior to the first in-Sanctuary service. At this time we are waiting for word from our Buildings and Grounds Committee as to when we can expect them. Here is what you can expect for Sunday worship services when the air filters are installed:
- We will move to in-person, in-sanctuary services.
- Windows will be open, fans will be on to move air. (Yes, it may be cool – dress accordingly)
- HEPA air purifiers installed and in use.
- We will live stream the services for the foreseeable future.
- We will provide a simple “I’m here” Google form to use for contact tracing that all attendees will be expected to use. (We’ll have an alternative for those without smartphones)
- We require properly worn, appropriate fitting masks for all participants over the age of two. We will provide disposable masks for those who do not have masks that meet the requirement.
- Congregants will sit socially distanced – in marked spots no less than 6 feet apart.
- Additional spaces in the building will be set up and ready for live streaming should the Sanctuary be filled to COVID-capacity.
- Anyone not feeling 100% healthy stays home and attends virtually.
- Anyone who has reason to believe that they have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past week stays home and attends virtually.
- Adults who are not vaccinated (for any reason) stay home and attend virtually.
- Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 after having attended a UUCC service / activity /whatever will inform the minister or a board member immediately.
The Short Take:
- We will be moving to in-person services in the Sanctuary once we have air filtration installed.
- There will be a separate email announcement when we know what that date will be.
- Everyone on UUCC property is required to wear a mask covering mouth and nose and practice social distancing regardless of vaccination status.
- Our success in being able to stay in-person indoors depends on our ability to limit transmission, so wear a proper fitting mask properly!
Please contact us at email@example.com with any questions.
Additional Updates on Gathering in person
If your small group or committee has been meeting in person, you will notice some changes to the Building Use Guidelines that are being rolled out shortly. Small groups previously had the ability to choose whether to remove masks while meeting in person; that decision is no longer within the group’s authority because of the increase in the rate of breakthrough infections. In a sentence, the new policy requires everyone to wear a mask, covering mouth and nose, and practice social distancing while on UUCC property regardless of vaccination status.
Also, all staff and front-line volunteers (Board of Trustees, Committee Chairs, Small Group Leaders, RE Volunteers/Teachers, etc.), eligible for vaccination against COVID-19 must be vaccinated; any who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons must be tested weekly for COVID-19. Don’t panic – if you are one of the covered individuals, you’ll be given adequate time to provide requested information.
Carol Gay, board president