COVID Safety Protocols
Posted 03/10/2022 by The Rev. Jessie Gutgsell Dodson
March 10, 2022
Dear St. Paul’s community,
Thank you for your robust response to our COVID-19 policy survey. Almost 80% responded that they were “very comfortable” or “somewhat comfortable” with a mask optional policy for worship services, and 99% report being fully vaccinated. Many thoughtful and encouraging comments were provided, too. Your responses, along with the guidance of the CDC and local health authorities, enable our COVID-19 Regathering Task Force to make changes to our parish-wide policies.
When the pandemic began almost two years ago, Jeanne sat in my living room for an emergency meeting, and we crafted our first “COVID communication,” telling you our building would be closed for two weeks. Now, after so many lessons learned and sacrifices made, I’m rejoicing that we can begin to lift some of our restrictions and resume gathering in the ways we’ve longed to do. With all that in mind, here are our new St. Paul’s COVID policies, effective immediately:
- Masking: Masks will be optional for everyone who is up-to-date on vaccinations
- Masks will be required for anyone over age 2 who is not fully vaccinated
- Masks will be required for childcare staff and volunteers interacting with children under 5 (who are still not eligible for vaccines)
- The clergy will continue to mask for worship (except when preaching or speaking in the service)
- Due to the higher risk of virus transmission while singing, the choir will remain masked for the time being
- As masking restrictions shift, I ask us to remain kind and respectful of one another’s masking choices.As you meet with small groups and committees, I hope you’ll consult with one another and to make sure everyone is comfortable with the masking norms of that group.
- Social-Distancing will no longer be enforced. However, we encourage you to take advantage of our large building, particularly in worship, and to sit in the balcony and St. Martin’s Chapel.
- Food can be shared together in groups. The staff will begin working on the logistics involved with resuming coffee hour, and we hope to begin sharing in that fellowship during the Easter season.
- If there’s business to be conducted in connection to the meal, please have the meal either before or after the business portion of the gathering so that people who aren’t comfortable sharing the meal can still attend the business portion of a gathering.
- Likewise, the staff will look towards a resumption of receiving communion in both kinds (bread and wine) possibly sometime in the Easter season.
- As we began last Sunday, communion will be shared around the rail. The clergy will work to offer a separate communion station that allows for increased social-distancing for those who desire it, and ease of access for those with mobility challenges.
I understand these updates will be met with a mixture of responses. It’s intimidating to lift restrictions that have kept us safe for two years. However, I take heart in the guidance of our health authorities and our own COVID-19 Regathering Task Force. I can assure you that our Task Force will continue to meet to ensure our policies meet the needs of our community, keeping us safe and connected. Should COVID rates begin to increase again, the Task Force will re-evaluate to determine whether masking and other safety precautions should return.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions or concerns. This pandemic has been a challenge, and I hope we can collectively rejoice at these positive steps forward.