First Parish in Wayland COVID Information

For details of our current weekly metrics, contact office@uuwayland.org.

For additional information, questions or concerns about support for our Healthy Congregation, please contact a member of the Health Advisory Team: Lynne Cavanaugh, Jim Kitendaugh, Barb Heffner, Rev. Stephanie May, Kate Holland.

COVID Update

Dear First Parish Community,

As we look ahead to the remaining weeks until Flower Sunday, the Re-Entry Team is monitoring the rising impact of Covid in our county and state. The CDC currently designates Middlesex County as “high” due to the number of cases and the rise in hospital admissions of patients with Covid. In the coming weeks, we also will be hosting two large Memorial Services: May 21 for Ken Sawyer, Minister Emeritus, and June 11 for Lew and Charlotte Russell. We imagine people may have questions about how we plan to gather together in the near future.

First, our indoor mask requirement for large groups (more than 20) remains in effect and we are now recommending that all indoor groups be masked. Additionally we will continue to pursue good ventilation in the Sanctuary and other gathering spaces. Please do not attend in-person services if you are not feeling well. Those who unmask to speak or sing in a service will need to rapid test negative that morning.

As we know, being vaccinated makes an enormous difference in the fight against Covid. To that end, we will now make explicit that vaccinations are required for all eligible persons (ages 5+) to participate at in-person services and events. We will post this information in our various communication streams and trust people to abide by the stated policy. Online access for worship services and major events will remain for all.

In anticipation of larger crowds for the upcoming Memorial Services, we are planning for overflow, distanced seating in the Vestry as well as outdoor seating. In both spaces, the service will be viewable via Zoom on large screens with strong audio. Both receptions will be held outdoors. Please consume all food and drink outdoors. Your help by modeling this behavior and, as necessary, gently reminding others to do so would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for continuing to show up for one another through all of the ups and downs of pandemic life!

In service,
Stephanie May, Minister
Annie Stubbs, Parish Committee, co-chair
Deb Stubeda, Parish Committee, co-chair
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COVID Update

Dear First Parish Community,

We’d like to share a couple updates. First, below you will find a summary from the recent Survey sent by the Re-Entry Team. Second, Covid Act Now, the website that significantly shaped our metric-driven protocols, announced changes on Tuesday. In short, they are moving to align with the CDC’s focus on Covid-19 Community Levels.

As you may be aware, the CDC model identifies three levels for counties: low, medium, and high. Middlesex County moved recently into “medium” due to a higher number of cases (greater than 200 cases per 100,000 residents in the past 7 days). The other two metrics tracked—new Covid admissions to hospitals and the percentage of hospital patients with Covid—remain low. The higher case level is understood as an early warning signal that increased caution may be warranted.

As the Re-Entry Team considers how to integrate the news from Covid Act Now into our own recommendations, we find our current protocols a good fit for “Medium” as defined by the CDC and Covid Act Now. To recap:

  • Vaccinations, including boosters, are expected of all who are eligible.
  • Masks are required for Sunday Services and large groups (greater than 20).
    • Those who remove masks in Services have tested that day.
  • Masks are optional outside for all.
  • Masking are optional for fully vaccinated individuals alone in the building and for small groups (20 and fewer) of fully vaccinated persons. Some small groups may elect to remain masked.
  • Social distancing is available in the Sanctuary during services.

As always, we welcome your feedback and thoughts as we continue our work of bringing the community back together.

In service,
The First Parish Re-Entry Task Force
Lynne Cavanaugh, Barbara Heffner, Kate Holland, Jim Kitendaugh, and Rev. Stephanie May
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COVID Update

Dear First Parish Community,

For a number of weeks, cases of Covid-19 have remained low in our local towns, county, and state. Earlier this week, April 4, the Boston Globe even reported zero deaths. While Covid-19 remains a serious, sometimes deadly, disease for too many, we are grateful for vaccinations and therapies that have lowered the risk for many. Even so, risks remain, especially for those who are unvaccinated, over 65, and immunocompromised, and there are concerns around long Covid. Accordingly, the need to maintain guidelines for gathering safely in-person and/or for online access to Services and programming continues.

As a community, we are both public and intimate. We openly welcome the public into Sunday Services and into our community. In our covenant, we also commit to caring for one another and to make the welfare of others central to who we are as a community. This means we must both consider how to remain accessible as well as seek to keep those who gather as safe as possible. Balancing this tension impacts Covid protocols as well as worship and program designs.

At this time, we recommend the following guidelines:

  1. Up-to-date Vaccinations expected of all eligible persons. Being up-to-date with vaccinations, including boosters, not only lowers the risk of hospitalization and death to oneself, but if infected also reduces the transmission of the virus to others. Vaccinations are required of all staff.
  2. Please stay home if sick. If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, please stay home and consider being tested for Covid-19. If you test positive and have recently been in-person at a First Parish event, please contact Rev. Stephanie or the Lay Minister of the month.
  3. Social-distancing will be made available in the Sanctuary, but is not required. Social distancing is a proven element in preventing transmission of Covid-19 and we urge everyone to respect the preferences of others for distancing, including seating, standing, and physical touch (handshakes, hugs). Please ask and do not assume another’s preference.
  4. Masking will remain required for all indoor, large group events (greater than 20), including Sunday Services. Please wear a well-fitted mask that covers your mouth and nose. Masking will become optional for vaccinated individuals alone in the building and for small groups (20 and fewer). Some small groups may elect to remain masked per their preference. Please be mindful of your own risk as well as the impact on othersespecially for those in high-risk groups (unvaccinated young children, adults over 65, and immunocompromised persons). When in a group, we encourage masking practices that feel safe to all who wish to participate. We also have options for multiplatform meetings if a group wishes to provide access to people both in-person and online. Please ask Kate Holland or Rev. Stephanie for more information.
  5. Improved ventilation is a recognized part of a multi-prong, or layered, approach to reducing risk. We will continue to open windows in the Sanctuary for Services and recommend small groups also improve ventilation through open windows, doors, and/or available air purifiersFans have been added to both bathrooms off the Vestry and the Building Committee is in the process of working with contractors to improve ventilation in the Sanctuary. Additional ventilation improvements to our campus remain under discussion with the Parish Committee.
  6. Singing remains a part of Sunday Services (during which people will be masked). Any unmasked vocalists have tested negative for Covid-19 that morning. We are in active discussion about the choir singing in the service (masked and vaccinated).
  7. The Spiritual and Ethical Exploration for Kids (SEEK) program will follow the above guidelines for distancing and masking. Kate Holland will remain in active conversation with parents about their preferences regarding masking for the children as a small group. All staff and volunteers who work with SEEK have up-to-date vaccinations.
  8. Community Time (aka Coffee Hour) will remain primarily outside; however, if weather is poor, we recommend gathering in the Commons or Vestry in groups of 20 or fewer following the above guidelines for distancing and masking.

These guidelines represent our thinking at this moment and are subject to change. We acknowledge that for some these guidelines fall short and for others they stretch too far. As we continue to be together as a community of differing risks and opinions, we encourage people to respect one another’s perspectives on these complex issues as we all try to care for ourselves and one another.

In service,
Stephanie May, Minister
Annie Stubbs, Parish Committee, co-chair
Deb Stubeda, Parish Committee, co-chair

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