May 4, 2022

The COVID Task Force met on May 4th. We discussed the rising number of COVID cases as well as the several important changes that mitigate the impact of the virus: children five and up are eligible for vaccination; the next round of booster shots are available; and treatment options are available for those who do contract COVID. We also discussed the reality that most of the places around us have dropped masking as a requirement, despite the increasing number of cases. As we open our building up to more groups, especially from outside our congregation, it has become more difficult to enforce our masking requirement during the week. After consulting with the Standing Committee at their meeting on Tuesday, May 10, we have adapted our COVID policy to meet this changing landscape.

MASKS WILL BE REQUIRED FOR SUNDAY MORNINGS: In order to keep our worship services accessible to all who wish to attend in the sanctuary, we are keeping the masking requirement in place for Sunday mornings. This will also allow for us to continue to sing together. Our other in-sanctuary protocols also remain in place: expecting people to be vaccinated, and offering socially distanced seating for those who request it.

Social Hour in the vestry: We did not make any changes to our protocols at this time inside the vestry, keeping it to coffee and tea only. However, with the good weather (hopefully), both food and beverages can be served outside where people do not have to wear masks.

We believe that the high vaccination rate of our members and use of the above protocols minimize the risk of viral spread sufficiently. Each individual and family will need to decide if they are ready to worship in the sanctuary. We continue to offer online options for both worship and for social hour.

During the rest of the week, individuals make their own decisions regarding masks although we strongly recommend that everyone follow the current CDC guidelines to mask when indoors when with others. If you are attending a church sponsored meeting, the group 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

April 6, 2022 (Ammended April 15, 2022)

UPDATE ON WORSHIP FROM THE COVID TASK FORCE

The COVID Task Force met on April 6th. The number of COVID cases in Massachusetts are ticking up some with the new BA.2 subvariant now prevalent. At the same time, there are several important changes that improve the situation: children five and up are eligible for vaccination; the next round of booster shots are available; and treatment options are available for those who do contract COVID. For these reasons, we are keeping the in-sanctuary option available for those who wish with these protocols in place: requiring masks, expecting people to be vaccinated, and offering socially distanced seating for those who request it.

For Easter Sunday, we continue with pre-registration for everyone for worship. This will be our first intergenerational service in the sanctuary since the pandemic started and we are keeping to about 50% capacity (between 70 and 80 people) to ensure those who wish to reserve socially distanced seating can do so. We have designated a section of pews in the back of the sanctuary on the piano side for socially distanced seating. The remaining pews will be open seating. That said, if anyone says that they prefer to sit by themselves, please honor this request. We will sing hymns with masks on. While we will not have nursery care, Dolores will be in the chapel for any children who cannot not yet be vaccinated. And of course, we will be livestreaming the service so those who wish can watch from home. As fresh air helps mitigate the transmission of COVID, we will keep the windows open for ventilation. Hopefully, the weather will continue to get warmer.

Beginning Sunday, April 24, we will discontinue general pre-registration for worship. Those who wish to reserve socially distanced seating can pre-register so we know how many pews are needed.

Social Hour in the vestry: while we were grateful to the people who volunteered to make and serve beverages in recent weeks, we do need someone to coordinate social hour and to work with the COVID Task Force and Standing Committee to set protocols if we are to continue this practice.

We believe that the high vaccination rate of our members and use of the above protocols minimize the risk of viral spread sufficiently. Each individual and family will need to decide if they are ready to worship in the sanctuary. We continue to offer the online option. 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

ADDED FRIDAY, April 15, 2022:
We received feedback that the guidelines for social hour in the vestry are not clear. And it is a bit confusing as we are in an in-between stage. Volunteers have stepped up to prepare coffee and tea for social hour, although the protocols for the return of this have not yet been fully figured out and no one has volunteered to be the overall coordinator. This was discussed by the Standing Committee and Brian Snow has volunteered to be the interim social hour coordinator as we try to figure them out. Please contact him to volunteer to prepare coffee or tea. In the meantime, people may remove their masks briefly to sip their beverages and then replace them. Food should not be served. All beverages must be consumed in the vestry. Or, if the weather is nice, people can go outside where masks are not required. We understand that these current guidelines are not ideal, as people may be unhappy or uncomfortable on both sides--those who feel these are too restrictive and those who feel these are too risky. Please know that we are doing the best we can to meet the realities of the situation and ask for people's patience as we find our way.