First Parish COVID-19 Information
On March 12, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) asked all of its congregations to dispense with in- person worship, cancel or postpone large group events, and seriously limit meetings. None of us knows how quickly this virus will spread or for how long. We want to take the prudent approach the UUA recommends. Here is the latest:
- We are now offering our Sunday Services online. Please join us from home. You may log-in from your home computer or cell phone as early as 9:30 a.m. on Sundayto be sure your access is working. Instructions for setting up to view the service are below.
- Going forward, you may access worship services, meetings, and groups through our Zoom account. We will send a weekly log-in for worship. Church staff and leaders may initiate meetings and groups through Zoom as well. Please contact a First Parish staff person for access.
- Church staff will be working from home. Please call or email them as needed. In matters large and small, we are here for you. We also urge you to reach out to one another.
Together we will make it through this crisis. Have courage—hold onto what is good. Warmly, Howard
Watching or Listening to the Sunday Service via Zoom
You will need to register for this “webinar”, which will help set up your computer, phone, or tablet to view the service. You should register ahead of time, but you will need to do this only once. You can register right before or during the service as well.
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
Instructions on joining the webinar, either by computer or by phone call, are sent out in the First Parish Weekly email.
First Parish’s Building and Grounds Guidelines
FP Summer Gathering Guidance
We are lifting all precautions for outdoor gatherings. We no longer need to mask, distance, or limit the number of participants in a gathering. Feel free to enjoy food and drink. If you are planning an event on the church grounds where you expect over 25 people, please contact Bruce Davidson (firstname.lastname@example.org) about scheduling.
This guidance is based on scientific metrics that can be found on our website. The metrics were affirmed by Bill Taylor (our public health epidemiology consultant), by Howard, and by our Standing Committee after focused work by Liz, Beth, and Amy as our staff advisory team. They are being used by many other UU congregations.
If you need or want to take more precautions (keeping your mask on, for example), please do! We also encourage members in smaller groups to check in with each other about what is comfortable. As a community of care, we want to be inclusive and supportive of one another.
Both because of guest preachers who live far away and because of staff’s need for rest, we will stay online for summer worship. We hope to re-open our buildings the Sunday after Labor Day. We look forward to that day!
Tracking COVID Spread: Our Science-Based Metrics
These are the scientific benchmarks we will use to guide our decisions about whether and how to gather indoors. They have been affirmed by Bill Taylor (our public health epidemiology consultant), Howard, the Standing Committee, and Liz, Beth, and Amy as our staff advisory team.
COVID spread metrics
- Average daily new cases per 100,000 people: This is how many people were diagnosed with COVID, using a scaled population. It shows how quickly COVID is spreading in our community. The “per 100,000 people” scale enables comparison across areas with different population sizes, which raw new case numbers do not.
- Percent of positive tests: This is what percent of COVID tests in any given day or week came back positive. It shows when we are doing enough tests to detect whether COVID is spreading in our community. If we are doing too few tests, the percent of tests that come back positive is higher.
- 10 or more average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the population or a 4% positive test rate
- Benchmark from Harvard’s Global Health Institute,
- When we are above the stay-at-home threshold, we will only allow online and outdoor gatherings.
- When we are under the stay-at-home threshold, we can begin indoor meetings with masks and distancing. We will continue to be a bit more cautious than many public venues because we are a community of care. We may choose to limit gatherings to small groups. We will keep our masks on because we know there are many vulnerable people in our community, including younger children who are not yet eligible for vaccination and immunocompromised adults.
- When COVID spread numbers are significantly below the stay-at-home threshold but not yet at the COVID Act Now green levels, we may decide to ease some but not all precautions, such as keeping our masks indoors but being less careful about distancing.
COVID Act Now green levels
- Green is 0-1 average daily new case/100,000 and 0-3% positive test rate
- Benchmark is from COVID Act Now, a collaboration between Harvard, Georgetown, and Stanford.
- When we are at green, we do not need to use masks or distancing indoors or out. This is because the green level indicates that COVID is not spreading in our community.
- We are a community of care. We value consent and inclusion.
- People are always free to take more precautions if they need or want to. For example, someone may continue to wear a mask even if it’s no longer required.
- We encourage members in smaller groups to check 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 have the same level of risk tolerance.
- Open groups that may have visitors are encouraged to offer a way for people to participate online even if established group members will meet in person.