First Parish COVID-19 Information
First Parish continues to monitor and plan for pandemic safety. We are taking a risk reduction approach that offers ways to participate in congregational life indoors, outdoors, and online. While we cannot completely eliminate the risk of COVID transmission at First Parish events, we believe that the following set of precautions makes meeting in person much lower risk.
Groups should discuss their risk tolerance and meet in a way that works for all group members. Multiplatform (simultaneous in person and online) is an option. Groups that may have visitors are encouraged to have a way to join online even if current members plan to meet in person. As a community of care, we want to be inclusive and supportive of one another.
Indoor Gathering Guidelines
Groups are expected to follow all safety guidelines when meeting in person.
- Masks are required for everyone over the age of two while indoors. Masks must fit well and be properly worn (covering both nose and mouth).
- Social distancing of 6’ is required for between people from different households.
- Rooms will have increased ventilation. Please open windows, use the air purifiers, and turn on fans. Please close windows and turn off electronics when your meeting is finished.
- Groups are required to have a sign-in sheet OR take a group photo in case contact tracing is needed later.
- Brief singing is permitted. Please contact Beth Norton, Director of Music Ministries, for more details.
- Everyone who is eligible is strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, as this is in line with our Unitarian Universalist values of care for one another. All ministers, staff, choir members, and volunteers with our children and teens are vaccinated.
Masks are available at our buildings’ main entrances. Hand sanitizer is widely available.
If you learn that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or if you become sick, and you have recently been at First Parish, please contact Rev. Liz Weber or Rev. Amy Freedman. First Parish leaders will notify all other attendees of their possible exposure, while maintaining your privacy.
The office is open Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Church staff will be working in person and from home. Please be in touch as needed. Our church voicemail boxes forward to our email, so we will receive your message wherever we are. If you’d like to schedule an indoor meeting, contact Bruce Davidson, our Facilities Manager.
Outdoor and Online Gatherings
Zoom continues to be available for both online and multiplatform gatherings. If you’d like to schedule something on Zoom, please contact the appropriate staff person (pastoral care, RE, music, etc.).
Our grounds continue to be available as well. Groups should discuss what safety precautions you would like to take. Masks and/or distancing is encouraged. We are supportive of members who take more precautions, understanding that there are a variety of comfort levels and needs for safety.
If you would like to sing outdoors, please wear masks and keep social distance of 6’. Contact Beth Norton, Director of Music Ministries, with any questions.
Outdoor gatherings under 25 people do not need a reservation. For larger outdoor gatherings, contact Bruce Davidson.
Tracking COVID Spread: Our Science-Based Metrics
This work of adjusting our guidelines as we follow the evolving science is being done by our COVID-19 staff advisory team of Rev. Liz Weber, Beth Norton, and Rev. Amy Freedman in partnership with Rev. Howard Dana, supported by our public health epidemiology consultant Dr. Bill Taylor and our Standing Committee.
Types of 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.
Benchmarks for re-evaluation
- Our benchmarks are from Harvard’s Global Health Institute and are in line with August 2021 UUA guidance. We will track stats in our towns and county.
- At 25 average daily new cases per 100,000 people in the population or a 3% positive test rate, we will re-evaluate our safety precautions and whether we need to return to online- and outdoor-only gatherings.
- At 10 or fewer average daily new cases per 100,000 people, we will begin to evaluate what precautions we can loosen. For example, we may keep masking but no longer require distancing.
- At 1 or fewer average daily new cases, we are in the “no community spread” level of COVID. This will mean we can make all precautions optional.
- We will continue to be a bit more cautious than many public venues because we are a community of care. This is because we know there are many vulnerable people in our community, including younger children who are not yet eligible for vaccination and immunocompromised adults..
Some Final Notes
We are a community of care. We value consent and inclusion.
Because we know that Delta is transmissible even by people who are asymptomatic, we strongly encourage each of us to follow the science and take care of ourselves and each other.
Please let Rev. Liz Weber or Rev. Amy Freedman know if you learn that you were exposed to or positive for COVID-19 and have recently been at a First Parish event. First Parish leaders will notify all other attendees of their possible exposure, while maintaining your privacy.
Each of us is always free to take more precautions if we need or want to. For example, someone may continue to wear a mask even if it’s no longer required.
We encourage 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.
We strongly encourage vaccination for all people who are eligible. Vaccination is in line with our Unitarian Universalist value of care for one another.
As pandemic life continues to evolve, we are here for you. Please reach out to Rev. Liz Weber, Minister for Pastoral Care, if you could use support.