Throughout this pandemic, we have been cautious in our responses and always paying attention to the science and the most vulnerable in our community. We have worked toward inclusion in our worship services and prioritized accessibility.
The good news is: We are in a different place than we were last fall, when the Delta variant increased local hospitalization rates; or last winter, when the first Omicron variant’s contagiousness caused a surge in local transmission. The Bivalent Covid booster is the first vaccine developed to address a specific variant. Treatments are available for those having a serious reaction to Covid infection. State and local authorities are rolling back regulations.
So how do we, as a church, want to navigate these next steps of emergence from the pandemic? We are noticing many different truths: Covid-19 is still with us. And, we are a highly vaccinated community, experiencing low transmission in our city. We have many vulnerable folks who are an important part of our community. We want to prioritize accessibility and creating safer spaces, and, we have many ways of connecting digitally. Our online ministry is growing. We want to empower each person and family to make the best choices for them. We know some are feeling more cautious, while others are wishing we would take steps to get back to normal.
The Covid-19 action team will be meeting in November to make recommendations about when and how we might move to mask-optional for in-person worship. No decisions about unmasking in worship will go into effect prior to Advent. This gives us a change to look at data from the start of flu season, local transmission rates, and the Bivalent vaccine’s impact. Any changes will be communicated with several weeks’ notice, so everyone can plan accordingly.
In the meantime, here are our fall Covid-19 guidelines:
- Please remain masked in the sanctuary and shared spaces (hallways, bathrooms, church office).
- Small groups may be mask-optional with consent from all participants. Food and drinks are allowed in small groups. Each ministry may define what size group is considered “small” for the purposes of sharing food and unmasking. Please defer to the most cautious in each group. When possible, we encourage you to make a decision about masking and food prior to the event, and communicate to the participants ahead if time so everyone knows what to expect.
- NEW CHANGE: Starting November 1st, coffee hour will move indoors and be held in the lounge after worship. Please remain masked except when actively eating and drinking. Please keep food/drink in the lounge. Additional filters will be provided, and windows will be open (weather/temperature permitting).
- The narthex will remain a masked social space, with no food/drink.
- The library will remain a masked worship-viewing room, with extra filtration, socially distanced seating, and no singing.
We know the tools for wellness include being vaccinated and fully boosted, testing when needed, and having high-quality masks. We want to support this in the building and at all times. We have upgraded our building air filtration system and have purchased additional portable filters for some spaces as well. Our church has masks and rapid tests available, especially if you’re having trouble finding them or they are too expensive. We can also help you navigate getting a vaccine or getting boosted. Please get the latest Covid-19 booster! Everyone over 5 years of age is eligible, if it’s been 2 months since your previous vaccine dose.
Please reach out and let us know how we can support you. We’re in this together! If you have questions you can reach out to our Covid officer, Kyna Shilling at email@example.com.