As we approach our September ingathering, we note that Covid 19 infections are still in the community, although the current variant generally causes mild disease, and there are now treatments that greatly reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalization. However, the BA5 variant of Omicron, which is the dominant strain, is highly transmissible and can overcome the protection from the vaccines. Nevertheless, people have grown weary of the restrictions required to minimize the risk of becoming infected, particularly wearing masks. Also, there is a powerful desire to renew our social connectivity.
To balance the need to come together in church with the need to protect the vulnerable members of the community, Parish Committee is putting forth the following policy, developed in dialogue with recommendations from the Re-opening Task Force:
- During worship, masks will be required in the Sanctuary except when staff or members are speaking to the congregation. Speakers will unmask one by one when speaking. Although this may minimally increase risk, it is better for our members who appreciate being able to lip read and see facial expressions. The choir will sing with masks, and other musical performers will wear masks.
- For attendees wishing not to mask, the Parish Hall Worship Café will be mask optional, although the Re-Opening Task Force highly recommends masking while indoors.
- The worship services will continue to be available on Zoom and YouTube.
Sara Elizabeth will be in touch with parents of youth and children prior to the start of RE to conform to the preferences and needs of our families regarding masking our kids/youth and RE volunteers.
Committees meeting in person should discuss amongst themselves what is most comfortable and feasible for all their members regarding masking. The staff team would still prefer that people are masked when coming to the office wing, to continue a lower-risk environment for our employees.
Parish Committee hopes that this arrangement accommodates the needs of everyone in our community. We strongly hope to see you in church this Fall!