First Parish COVID Protocols for Summer 2022

Our First Parish COVID protocols are based on guidance from the CDC and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in concert with the current COVID community risk level for Middlesex County as reported daily by covidactnow.org:  https://covidactnow.org/us/massachusetts-ma/county/middlesex_county/?s=36352411

If you plan to attend worship in the building:

1) If you feel unwell or know you have been exposed to COVID, please STAY HOME.
2) We expect everyone who is medically eligible to be vaccinated. We do not require proof of vaccination but trust that our members, friends and guests will honor this protocol as part of our covenant of mutual care for one another.
3) We require everyone to wear a mask when the community risk for Middlesex County is HIGH, as reported by covidactnow.org. When the community risk is MEDIUM or LOW, masks are optional. We support anyone who chooses to wear a mask, no matter the community risk level. During the summer, Rev. Ellen will send an announcement each Friday with an update about the community risk level and masking protocols for worship on the upcoming Sunday.
4) During the summer, with low attendance and fewer volunteers and staff available, we cannot offer pre-registration or reserve socially distanced seating. We offer a livestream option. See the link below.

These protocols serve as guidance for when you are in the building in general.

If you prefer to attend worship from home:

We livestream our summer services if you are unable or uncomfortable attending worship in the building: https://www.youtube.com/c/UuchelmsfordOrg 

The COVID pandemic has presented us with an ever-changing landscape of information and guidance as vaccines and anti-virals are developed even as new variants of the virus emerge. The COVID Task Force and the Standing Committee are doing our best to support gathering for worship, mutual care, faith formation and service to the common good in the building and online, as we balance the wellbeing of individuals with the wellbeing of the community as a whole. Ultimately each of us has to make the best decisions we can for our physical, mental and spiritual health while supporting others in making those same decisions. As a covenantal congregation, we trust that everyone will honor these protocols, offering mutual care as we continue to nurture and sustain our beloved community. We are so grateful for the patience, support and generosity we have witnessed so far from everyone at First Parish.

In faith,

Tom Coffey, Chair of the COVID Task Force
Joan Coyne, Standing Committee Chair
Rev. Ellen Spero, Parish Minister

JUNE UPDATE FROM THE COVID TASK FORCE
The COVID Task Force met on June 1st. We discussed if/when to make wearing masks optional for Sunday mornings. According to the Covid Act Now website Massachusetts (MA) - U.S. COVID Tracker - Covid Act Now COVID cases in Middlesex County are currently at the low end of the HIGH risk category and trending towards the MODERATE risk category. Much of the rest of Massachusetts is in the MODERATE risk category. We also have a high rate of vaccination and treatment options for those who do contract COVID. Most other places around us have dropped masking requirements.

The CDC recommends masking for large indoor gatherings when the risk level is high but not when it is moderate or low. As we approach summer, we will follow this recommendation as we track the risk level via the Covid Act Now website. If the risk remains high, we will require masks. If the risk level is moderate or low, individuals may choose whether or not wear a mask. Regardless, we will continue to livestream the services over the summer for those who do not feel comfortable attending in the building.

Beginning June 26th, wearing masks for Sunday worship will be required only if the Community Level remains HIGH. If the Community Level is MODERATE or LOW, individuals can choose whether or not to wear a mask indoors. The COVID Task Force will update the status as needed. Masks are optional in the building during the rest of the week. As Community Level remain high, we recommend that people continue to wear masks if meeting in large groups indoors. All First Parish groups meeting at church should discern individual members’ comfort levels before removing masks. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you have any pastoral concerns with regard to worship (or anything else), please reach out to Rev. Ellen:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We once again would like to extend our deepest gratitude to those volunteers who are keeping us connected virtually and in the building on Sunday mornings: our worship tech team, our online chat hosts, our ushers and greeters, and social hour hosts! Tom Coffey, COVID Task Force Chair; Joan Coyne, Standing Committee Chair; Rev. Ellen Spero