FAQs on a Soft Reopening, June 15th to October 5th

Courtesy of the UUS:E Emergency Preparedness Team, the following Frequently Asked Questions and responses may provide the information you are seeking about UUS:E’s soft reopening.

When can I start attending Sunday services? During the summer of 2021, the Sunday Services Committee and Rev. Josh will welcome a limited number of people into the meeting room to observe the production of our live-stream services. If you want to attend, you must sign up with the UUS:E office in advance. We anticipate launching regular, in-person services on September 12th.  At that time, we will no longer require advanced sign-ups.

Will we continue to live-stream our services once we’re fully back to in-person church? Yes. We have invested throughout the year in live-streaming technology, always with the plan to continue live-streaming indefinitely even as we return to regular, in-person Sunday services. We’ve realized during the pandemic that live-streaming our Sunday services allows us to connect with and include many people who, for a variety of reasons, cannot join us regularly for in-person worship.

What about other programs? Will there be virtual options so that people can participate from home? Yes – at least that is our goal. All programs offered at UUS:E will be presented simultaneously in person and through Zoom or some other virtual meeting platform. Having said that, we are aware that not every program leader has been trained in offering simultaneous in-person / virtual events. It will take time to achieve full “hybrid” programming. We ask for your patience.

Will we wear masks? For now, yes. Because some members of our community are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, and others are not able to be vaccinated for health reasons, we will reopen with a near-universal mask mandate. That is, at least until October, 2021, everyone (except children aged two and younger) will be asked to wear a mask , regardless of whether or not they have been vaccinated. This policy is in alignment with our first Unitarian Universalist principle, “respect for the inherent worth and dignity of every person.” In addition to children under age two, worship leaders, as well as certain musicians, will not wear masks while speaking or performing. We will review this policy at the end of summer and hope to relax mask wearing once vaccinations are available to everyone in our community.

What if everyone in a meeting is vaccinated? Do we still need to wear masks? If all those attending a meeting are fully vaccinated, the group can make a decision to remove masks and relax social distancing measures. However, until we re-evaluate our policies in October, if anyone in the group feels uncomfortable with the removal of masks and the relaxation of social distancing measures, group members will remain masked and will continue to practice social distancing until a satisfactory solution can be worked out.

Will the church ask my vaccination status? No. Anyone who feels comfortable is welcome to attend our worship services and other programs in person regardless of vaccination status.

What about advance sign-ups for other programs? For all other programs, committee meetings, gatherings, etc., leaders will communicate as to whether or not they want participants to sign up ahead of time.

What about Children’s Religious Education? RE for children and youth will continue to meet outdoors for the rest of the summer. In the event of rain or excessive heat, those classes will meet indoors.

When will the Sunday morning nursery re-open? We are anticipating the resumption of nursery on September 12th, 2021.

Will we have coffee hour? Not yet. Our current policy states that we will not provide coffee or snacks during the first few months of reopening. We anticipate that we will reinstate coffee hour in the fall of 2021. In the meantime, if anyone is running an event for which they would like to serve food, they may apply for a waiver from the Policy Board.

Will we sing hymns? Not yet. As we know, singing is one of the most effective ways of spreading airborne disease. We will wait until September, 2021 to determine how to reinstate congregational and choral singing at UUS:E.

Does the sanctuary look like a TV studio? Not anymore! Over the next few months we will be adding some new technologies to enhance the live streaming of our services. We will make these enhancements as invisible as possible.

Can I sit wherever I want? Not exactly. In addition to our near-universal mask mandate, we will also institute social distancing measures for the first few months of reopening. As of writing this FAQ, we do not know exactly what the social distancing protocols will be for Sunday services. We will do our best to give clear directions when people arrive for Sunday services. For all other programs, we ask that participants follow the social distancing directions provided by leaders.

Will I appear on camera?  Possibly. If you are involved in the delivery of a Sunday service, you can anticipate being on camera. If you are sitting in the sanctuary for worship, the back of your head may show up on camera from time to time in a wide-angle shot of the entire congregation.

Will we continue to use videos in worship? Yes. At least that is our goal. Many people have asked that we continue to use videos. We are currently investigating the best way to do this so that people at home and people in the sanctuary can view a video in worship at the same time.

Other questions? Please e-mail me at [email protected] with any questions you may have.