Dear Session members,
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a new tool for communities to use providing clear and succinct guidance:
COVID-19 Community Levels are a new tool to help communities decide what prevention steps to take based on the latest data. Levels can be low, medium, or high and are determined by looking at hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area. Take precautions to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 based on the COVID-19 Community Level in your area.
Jefferson County is now in the “Medium” risk category where vaccination and testing continue to be emphasized but masking is optional. Masks continue to provide an added layer of protection and should be encouraged for those most comfortable with continued masking. For some “at high risk for severe infection” mask use will continue to be the norm. We also believe that HBPres should be responsive to changes in the CDC risk assessment. Should Jefferson County return to the “High” risk category HBPres should again require mask wearing in the building. Masks should be seen as a tool to use when needed similar to an umbrella’s use when it rains.
We anticipate this transition to be greeted with a wide range of responses including anxiety by some. Hopefully, HBPres can continue to provide a welcoming environment for all and support each person through this change.
This is our proposal – While Jefferson County remains in the “Medium” or “Low” categories mask use will be optional in our building. Should the risk return to “High” we will again require mask use in the building. However, we would suggest those working closely with children under 5 years old to continue using masks while teaching those children. To ease the transition for some we think a section in the sanctuary should continue to be limited to those wearing masks. One of our two sections in the rear of the sanctuary, distanced from those speaking and singing from the chancel area, should continue to have rows taped. Individuals electing to continue mask use could elect to sit in this section but could also decide to sit wherever they desired. Committees should be encouraged to evaluate ways to make all people feel safe in activities such as “Time with Young Disciples”, food serving, ushering, and communion. This transition should be viewed as a process and not an abrupt change.
March 13 (or when Session enacts guidelines) – Begin mask optional, establish one-quarter of sanctuary for mask-required seating. Continue using alternate row seating throughout the sanctuary.
March 20 – Remove alternate row seating in three-quarters of the sanctuary.
Submitted with God’s Love,
COVID Safety Task Force