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,

The theme for this Sunday’s service is “The Ecology of Hope.” It seems fitting that we have hopeful news to report.

The Re-Entry team reports that the latest Covid-related statistics (released late yesterday) enable us to move to the protocols for “High” rather than “Very High” on our tracking chart. This will not involve dramatic changes. Seating simply goes back to every other row, rather than the cushion system we’ve been using. We’ll continue to ask that you wear an N-95, KN-95 or two surgical masks. No masks will be required outdoors for smaller groups (fewer than 40 people).

In light of the continued improvement in conditions, we are thrilled to announce a return to congregational singing, with upgraded masks in place.

The concern with singing has been the result of studies showing that when singing, we project aerosols more broadly than when we talk. A recent study indicates that when singing without a mask, the aerosols spread widely. By contrast, when a singer is masked, the exhaled aerosols are decelerated and deflected by the mask and stay in the singer’s near field around and above their heads. We feel comfortable that singing, masked, will involve minimal risk.

We look forward to singing joyously together on Sunday!

In service,
Rev. Stephanie May
Deb Stubeda and Annie Stubbs, Co-chairs, Parish Committee
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COVID Update

Dear First Parish Community,

On this Valentine weekend, we write with good news for this community we love. When announcing a pause in early January amidst the surging number of COVID-19 cases and the highly infectious nature of Omicron, we projected a six-week hiatus. The Re-Entry Team has been reviewing Covid statistics weekly in the context of the protocols the Team developed in the fall to help guide their recommendations to the Parish Committee. The data indicate that we are on track to return to in-person services and limited activities on February 15. Infection rates are dropping dramatically, as is the positive test rate. We are moving from a “Severe” risk level to “Very High” on our color-coded protocol chart.

This means that we can return to multiplatform services. (Online services will still be available for those who prefer to participate at home.) The building will once again be open for Sunday services and limited activities. We’ll be observing the safety protocols that previously guided us for this risk level. SEEK will be held in the Vestry. Masks will be required; we respectfully request that you wear an N-95, a KN-95 or two surgical masks. (Omicron is still out there!) We expect that attendees will be vaccinated. The Sanctuary will be configured to allow for six-feet of social distancing. The cushion placement will be arranged to guide you on social distancing in the pews. Service participants will be asked to either test, remain masked when speaking or singing, or to speak unmasked from another room within the building. The windows will be open a bit for ventilation, so do dress accordingly. We’ll be warmed by fellowship!

The Re-Entry Team will continue to meet weekly and will keep the Parish Committee up to date as conditions continue to improve. (Fingers crossed.). We look forward to a time in the not-too-distant future when the statistics tell us it’s safe to downshift to more relaxed levels of precautions.

It’s been a long journey together, but this community has worked hard to stay connected through adversity and to continue caring for one another as well as the wider world around us. May you be buoyed, as we are, by the prospect of springtime, the season of rebirth.

In service,
Rev. Stephanie May
Deb Stubeda and Annie Stubbs, Co-chairs, Parish Committee
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Important COVID Update

Dear First Parish Community,

As we welcome a new year and its possibilities, we also find ourselves continuing to navigate the effects of Covid on our lives. While the ongoing uncertainty and need for flexibility can feel tiresome, we are also grateful for the opportunities to safely gather in multiple ways these past months. Throughout it all, First Parish leadership has sought to listen to the guidance of experts, to monitor metrics, and to adapt protocols as conditions have changed.

As conditions in recent weeks have taken a dramatic turn for the worse, we suspect that you will not be surprised that we once again need to adapt. For multiple days in recent weeks, Massachusetts has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day since the start of the pandemic. From November 1 to the end of December, hospitalizations more than tripled, overwhelming our hospitals.

As a result, we’ll be pausing our in-person services, meetings, and gatherings, while continuing to offer online services, SEEK classes, and other programs. We anticipate that this change will remain in effect through February 15. We’ll continue to monitor metrics and adjust our timeline if the data indicates conditions are improving or worsening.

Rev. Stephanie and/or Alyssa Lee will continue to lead worship from within the Sanctuary. Polly Oliver will also provide music from the Loft.  All onsite service participants will be asked to either test, remain masked when speaking or singing, or speak unmasked from another room within the building. As before, some elements of the service, including the chalice lighting, will be led online from congregants’ homes.

The Covid Re-Entry Team will continue to meet weekly and will keep the Parish Committee up to date as conditions change. This surge is expected to last for four to six weeks. As we go through this surge, we wish you good health as we together await opportunities to more safely regather at First Parish as well as with family and friends.

In service,
Rev. Stephanie May
Deb Stubeda and Annie Stubbs, Co-chairs, Parish Committee

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Update from the Re-Entry Team

Dear First Parish Community,As you may be aware, the infection rates for Covid have risen in the last 14-days in Wayland, including in some of the schools. Additionally, the rates are on the increase across the county and Commonwealth. The Re-Entry team has met twice this week to both review the data and our own protocols.

At this point, we are recommending that we tighten our in-person protocols. We expect all eligible persons to be vaccinated. We also require that all in-person attendees:

  • Wear well-fitted masks that cover the mouth and nose.
  • Sign-in for contact tracing.
  • Not attend if feeling sick.
  • Maintain 6′ physical distancing.To support 6′ distancing, we will return to having fewer pew cushions. Please sit only on the cushions in group sizes as indicated. Please do not sit in a pew with someone who is not family and/or a friend with whom you regularly socialize.

For the SEEK program, we will be spacing the tables further apart and asking parents to drop children in the Vestry by 10:00am where the service will be livestreamed until class begins. To support SEEK, please walk through the kitchen and avoid the Vestry when moving through the first floor of the Meetinghouse.

As a team, our hope is to support the health of our First Parish community as well as the wider communities and social circles in which we move. We also recognize the importance of gathering together. In service of both our safety and our gathering, we will continue to monitor the data and our protocols as infection rates shift and as more information about the Omicron variant becomes available.

In service,
Rev. Stephanie May on behalf of the Re-Entry Team

Re-Entry Team Members: Lynne Cavanaugh, Barb Heffner, Kate Holland, Jim Kitendaugh, Rev. Stephanie May, and Chauncey Wilson


 

What to Do if Someone Tests Positive for COVID-19

If you or a family member have attended a Sunday service or another activity at First Parish and then test positive, the following protocols are recommended by the Wayland Health Department.

Was the individual at the service/activity either:

  • 48 hours before the positive test date, if there were no symptoms, or
  • 48 hours before symptoms started?

A “yes” answer to either of these questions means that anyone closer than 6 feet for a cumulative 15 minutes over a 24-hour period is considered a close contact.

Close contacts:
If vaccinated, the individual does not have to quarantine unless they develop symptoms within up to 14 days of last being in contact with the affected person.

If the close contact has any low-grade symptoms, including a runny nose/congestion, the individual should have a PCR test. If they remain asymptomatic but want to be tested, they should do so on day 5, counting the date of the service/activity as day 0. If the close contact occurred at a Sunday service, for example, Friday would be the day to have a PCR test and to actively monitor for symptoms.

If unvaccinated, then the close contact needs to strictly quarantine and to be out of the public for at least 7days. For example, if the contact occurred on a Sunday, that would count as day 0 and a PCR test could be done on day 5 or later. Assuming a negative result, the individual could then return to the public on day 8 so long as they do not have and have not had any symptoms. If within the 14-day window they become symptomatic they need to remove themselves from the public for the full 14-day period and be tested.

If someone tests positive, please call Rev. Stephanie May at her work cell, 617-519-5504. Even if Rev. Stephanie is away, the line remains covered by a minister. Any notifications will be shared with the Parish Committee chairs. If the individual testing positive resides in Wayland, the Wayland Health Department will be contacted (508-358-3617). If the individual lives in another town, the appropriate Health Department will be contacted. In addition, Rev. Stephanie May, another staff member, and/or a member of the Parish Committee will alert the other people who were in the building at the time of exposure and send an email blast to update the congregation.

A note from the Health Department: Wayland has and does follow the Mass. Department of Public Health guidance, which may be more strict than that of the CDC, but not less. MDPH does not mandate that vaccinated close contacts be tested on day 5 or later but it is a CDC recommendation, so the Health Department recommends being tested.

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