First Parish COVID-19 Information
Current COVID Policies
Groups are expected to follow all safety guidelines when meeting in person.
- Please stay home if you have any symptoms, even if you think it’s just a cold. If you need to report an exposure or a case of COVID, please contact Rev. Liz Weber or Rev. Amy Freedman. We will notify the group while protecting your privacy. The CDC offers guidelines for what to do if you were exposed to or develop COVID.
- Vaccination is strongly encouraged for everyone who is eligible. Vaccination aligns with our Unitarian Universalist value of care for one another. All ministers, staff, choir members, and volunteers with our children and teens are vaccinated.
- We will continue to monitor COVID trends and changes in scientific guidance. We will rely on Covid Act Now to decide what level of precautions to take.
When Community Risk is High
When our community risk level is high, we will use universal masking in all areas of the church. It is okay to unmask while speaking so that others can hear you. Please ensure that air purifiers are on when meeting in the building. Meeting outside or on Zoom is also an option. Religious Exploration may remain mask optional at the discretion of our Minister for Religious Exploration. This supports children’s developmental need for consistency in church, school, and social settings.
When Community Risk is Medium
When our community risk level is medium, we will take the following precautions.
- We will use universal masking in the sanctuary. Speakers may unmask while speaking.
- Make sure the air purifiers are on when you enter a room.
- In all other areas, groups and individuals may decide whether to mask. We strongly support masking for every person who needs or wants it.
- Food and drink is permitted where masks are optional.
- Group members should check in with each other about risk tolerance and meet in a way that works for everyone. This is part of how we care for one another.
- When groups of 6 or more people sing, we will use universal masking.
- For soloists or small ensembles, singers can choose whether to mask as long as others in the audience or congregation are masked.
- If the audience/congregation is not masked, singers should mask regardless of ensemble size.
- Groups and planning teams should decide whether to ask those gathered to mask so that singers can unmask.
When Community Risk is Low
When our community risk level is low, masks are optional everywhere. Choirs can decide for themselves whether to have universal or optional masking. We will all continue ventilation and other norms as described in the medium risk level section.
At the Threshold
Church leaders will receive an alert if Middlesex County changes the community risk level on COVID Act Now. If we cross that threshold, we will watch to see whether the risk level reverts back quickly or holds steady. If the level holds steady for a week, we will change our precaution level.
We will send a churchwide email on the day when our community risk level changes. This message will inform our community so that we can take care of ourselves and one another as we watch to see whether the trend holds steady. We will send another email if/when we change our precaution level. This process will be the same both when levels rise above and when they fall below the high community risk threshold.
Science and Community Care
Our policy is based on science, and our norms are based on both science and our Unitarian Universalist value of care for one another.
Most groups can expect that participants will have a range of risk tolerances. If universal masking is necessary for someone to feel safe and welcome at church, the group should continue to mask together. We want to uphold our value of care for those who are most at risk.
Our policy is based on our understanding that masks and ventilation are some of our best tools to lower the risk of COVID transmission. We also understand that one-way masking (individuals opting to mask) with a high-quality mask is protective against COVID transmission and that most rooms have high-quality air purifiers. The sanctuary is too large for regular air purifiers to be effective, so we considered it separately.
We are continuing to ventilate the sanctuary in other ways
We are continuing to monitor CO2 levels.
Odds and Ends
Masks are available at our buildings’ main entrances. Hand sanitizer is widely available. If you develop COVID and have recently been at First Parish, please contact Rev. Liz Weber or Rev. Amy Freedman. First Parish leaders will notify other attendees of their possible exposure while maintaining your privacy. Liz is also available for pastoral support through an exposure or illness.
To reserve a room or reserve technology for indoor or multiplatform gatherings, contact Bruce Davidson, our Facilities Manager. To reserve space on Zoom, please contact Darien Smith. To reserve outdoor space (only required for groups of over 25), contact Bruce Davidson. Outdoor space that is not reserved is first come first served.
Some Final Notes
Each of us is always encouraged to take as much precaution as we need or want to. Thanks to all of us for taking care of one another by checking in with each other about what feels safe and comfortable. We want to be inclusive and supportive of one another rather than assuming that we all have the same level of risk tolerance.
As pandemic life continues to evolve, we are here for you. Please reach out to Liz Weber, Minister for Congregational Care, if you could use support.
The First Parish COVID Team:
Rev. Liz Weber, convenor
Rick Moore, engineer
Beth Norton, staff represntative
Heather Packard, Standing Committee representative (through June 11, 2023)
Susan See, Standing Committee representative
Dr. David Venesy, cardiologist