As Passed by the Board of Trustees 9/28/2021

 

Metrics that we are using are from covidactnow.org for Maricopa County, AZ, particularly the cases per 100,000, infection rate, and positive test rate metrics. There are specific colors below that are referenced from that tool.

The most recent UUA Guidelines for re-opening are here: www.uua.org/leadership/library/delta-guidance 

Note–re-opening is not permanent.  We will respond to the metrics of the pandemic for Maricopa County, including the possibility that we may need to re-close.  We will phase up and phase down as the numbers and the science dictates. This is a beta document of our plans that will certainly change.   

For ALL these rules, we will need to be adaptable, taking into account accessibility, welcoming and justice issues.  

These guidelines are supported by the staff, the board and the Minister.  

All community members should assess their own comfort and risk when deciding when or whether to come back in-person.  Online worship will always be available.  

RE-OPENING RECOMMENDATIONS

Vaccinations

  • For congregants, we will not mandate vaccinations, for several reasons:
    • Our Greeters and Ushers are already stretched.  With requiring masks, they will need to play that role.  It is unreasonable to also expect them to check vaccination cards.
    • Vaccination cards are not regulated by the government.  Anyone can download one from the internet.  
    • This would require us to turn away people–including newcomers–who didn’t know they needed to bring a card.
    • Assuming everyone is vaccinated creates a false sense of security.  We know that with breakthrough cases, everyone is still vulnerable.  
  • The board unanimously voted that all staff and contractors must be vaccinated.  They can request a waiver for legitimate medical or religious purposes. 

Masks

  • For all indoor events, masks are required until further notice.  
    • For Worship, we will provide surgical masks for each person, unless they are wearing a KN95 or have a legitimate accessibility issue.  We will ask them to use those instead of their fabric masks since the research is showing that they are more dependable than fabric.  It is fine if people want to double mask, using the UUCP provided masks as one of their masks.  
  • For outdoor events, masks are optional, depending on the consent discussions with the team, considering vaccination status and distance between participants.  

Worship

  • Starting on October 10th, members of the Worship Team (Rev. Christine, Benjie, Worship Associates as they are comfortable) will start leading worship from the sanctuary, testing our live streaming equipment and easing into the new technology process.  
  • Online worship will ALWAYS be available for anyone who wants to join virtually.  
  • As the surge decreases, we will open up worship to small amounts of people, based on the metrics (see below).  
  • As the numbers go down further, we will increase the number of people invited into the sanctuary.  
  • Seating in the sanctuary will be in groups of 1, 2, 3 and 4 people, with space between.  As the numbers go down, the spaces between them will decrease.  
  • If necessary, we will use a reservation system to make sure we don’t have more people than the phase allows.    

Children’s Ministry

  • We will not offer in-person Children’s Ministry programming until we know that children can return safely after vaccinations are available for children under 12.  
  • Children, as always, are always welcome in the sanctuary for worship, once it is open to in-person.  
  • When Children’s Ministry resumes in person activities, as much as possible will be offered outside.  

Food/Coffee Hour

  • There will not be food or beverage offered in a live coffee hour for the foreseeable future.  Eating and drinking requires taking off masks, which will not be allowed until we are in green metrics.  
    • We will need provisions for hydration for children when they are doing Children’s Ministries outside.  
  • We will continue with virtual coffee hour, adding additional breakout rooms for small group meetings, faith development classes, etc. as we can.  

Music in Sunday Services

  • All the data says that singing indoors is still too dangerous to participate in.  
  • We recommend alternative forms of music during indoor services: videos, drumming, strings, piano, clapping, stomping.  
  • We may have one person singing from the front of the sanctuary–with as much distance as possible.  We will consider whether that person should be masked on a case-by-case basis, but if we are unsure, we will have the person masked.  

Choir

  • Once covid numbers drop, the choir could meet outdoors, being both masked and distanced.  
  • Meetings would last no longer than an hour.
  • Meetings could be recorded, and those recordings could be included in Sunday services.
  • Having all choir members be vaccinated has not been decided yet.  

Small Groups

  • Once all of the covidactnow.org categories (see below) are out of the critical range, we encourage small groups (12 people or fewer) to meet in person, as long as they have FULLY CONSENSUAL conversations about the rules that make them feel safe.   
  • We still recommend the two out of three rule if everyone is fully vaccinated.  
    • Outside, distanced and/or masked. 

Tent Meeting Room

  • We are recommending putting up an open-sided large tent in the Memorial Garden that can be scheduled as an outdoors meeting space.  We will provide lighting for evening meetings.  Groups can schedule it for safer meeting spaces for small groups. The congregation just purchased an easy-to-use PA for larger outdoor events.

Metrics

  • Metrics for in-person gathering for worship will be based on three factors: cases per 100,000, infection rate and positive test rate from covidactnow.org.  When we have each metric for 7 consecutive days, measured on each Tuesday:
    • Small groups can start meeting as long as at least two categories are not in “critical” (red) categories.
    • Anything in the “critical” (red)category–only worship team in the sanctuary
    • Having 2 out of the 3 metrics be in high (orange) and one in medium (yellow)–No more than 50 people in addition to worship leaders
    • Having 2 out of the 3 metrics be in medium (yellow) and one in low (green)–No more than 75 people in addition to worship leaders
    • Having 2 out of the 3 metrics in low (green) and one in medium (yellow)–no more than 100 people in addition to worship leaders.  This is 50% capacity.  
    • Having all metrics in low (green)–full capacity.  
    • We recommend these metrics be fluid and not cast in stone so we can respond to changing conditions, including completely closing again, if necessary. 

Next Steps

  • Get a task force with representatives from our Ushers, Greeters, Safety Team, Children’s Ministry, Building Team, Administration and Worship teams to work through the details of opening, mask enforcement and support needed.  
  • Get our internal facilities team organized for a work-day to get the campus ready.  We may need additional ones as Children’s Ministries or expanded use happens.  
  • Notify the schools so that we can reclaim the space that the schools have been using while we’ve been closed.  
  • Begin to allow reservations of rooms and space, including the Patio, Outdoor Tent meeting space, making sure that the calendar is updated again.  .
  • Safety Team to create recommended materials and instructions for space sharing and cleaning for meeting rooms.  As we open more spaces for more people (including children), these expectations will need to increase. 

Join the Re-opening discussion in a Coffee Hour breakout room after service this Sunday, 10/10.

  • Coffee Hour (after service) ID: 995 3802 5240 | Passcode: 402721