The rising number of cases due to the COVID Delta variant has made things more complicated than we originally hoped for our fall services, so we have had to rethink to our plans for in-person services. We also recognize that any plans we put in place are subject to change, as the conditions change. So, please understand that these guidelines could change.
First and foremost, everyone, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask when inside the building. The transmissibility of the Delta variant makes this necessary.
Second, we are planning to offer multi-platform worship services in September. Multi-platform means that we will hold in person worship while simultaneously live streaming for people watching from home. This seems the best way to keep our congregation safe and connected during this next phase of the pandemic. People who wish to attend in person will need to register in advance and wear a mask when in the building. We also expect that anyone who attends worship in the sanctuary will be vaccinated, if they are eligible. We are currently working on the sign up process. Multiplatform worship will begin September 19th at the regular time of 10 am.
We are also planning an outdoor service for the water communion on September 12 at 10 am as this allows for a larger in-person intergenerational gathering. Unfortunately, it cannot be live streamed. More information coming as we draw closer to the date.
Updates on other programs and events will be coming as decisions and plans are made.
We have heard some good news about the COVID virus as infections are on the decline and the number of people vaccinated keeps rising as more individuals become eligible. Over the last week, the CDC updated their guidance to say that masks need no longer be worn indoors or outdoors by people who have been vaccinated and Governor Baker announced that all COVID restrictions would be lifted by May 29th. While we are glad that things are opening up and excited for opportunities to meet in person, we also had to rethink significantly the plans we have been putting together regarding our building and in-person gatherings.
All along, we have said that keeping our congregation safe and connected is our primary goal. We have drawn upon the resources provided by the CDC, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the UUA to guide how to live into our First Parish and UUA covenants during the shutdown. Once again, we are in new terrain and must find a balance between safety and connection. We will need your help in being accountable to one another and our Unitarian Universalist ethics and principles, as we are in different places in terms of vaccination eligibility, health risk to ourselves or those we live with, and our own comfort levels with returning to in-person activities.
Worship: We will keep worship online through the summer so we can take the time to prepare for multiplatform worship and other aspects of congregational life in September. Given the summer vacation schedules of volunteers and staff alike, we need to keep things simple and the simplest way to keep worship accessible to the most people possible is to stay on Zoom. Social hour will also remain online over the summer. We are planning to hold in-person and online worship in September.
Rentals: We will consider requests for rentals by First Parish members and outside users. Again, contact Jess Volk if you wish to rent space for a private event or function. We already have three outside support groups meeting in-person: Tuesday evenings, Thursday mornings and Saturday mornings. In addition, the Little Acorn Nursery School plans to run a two-week camp program in July.
Masks and Social Distancing: We remain cautious as we start to re-open. Everyone should wear a mask when they enter the building. If all the members of a group are vaccinated AND if all members of a group consent to individuals not wearing masks, then group members may take them off for the meeting. We would remind everyone again that even if everyone in a group is vaccinated, they may live with people who are not yet eligible or who are at higher risk, even with vaccines. Keeping socially distant and opening windows for ventilation are other precautions we can still take.
Cleaning: We ask that each group wipe down high-touch surfaces (e.g. doorknobs, light switches, railings, bathrooms) with sanitizing wipes. It is not necessary to spray the space with the sanitizing machine, although groups are welcome to use it if they wish.
The members of the task force are: Dolores Heredia-Wood, Rev. Ellen Spero, Gail Burati, Jim Curley, Michelle Hillman, Jess Volk and Tom Coffey.