We know – we get it – many of us are hungry to return to our wonderful church campus! With infection rates dropping, it is possible that we can do that in a limited way in the coming weeks or months, assuming that a group of congregants will come together and complete some necessary tasks to ensure that any gatherings are as safe as possible.
During the past several months, the Board and the New Normal Team have been researching best practices related to safe reopening of the UUCJ campus to physical gathering. We do not anticipate reopening the sanctuary at least until January of 2021. However, based on guidelines from the UUA, CDC, WHO, Church Mutual (UUCJ’s insurance company), the Florida Department of Health, other UUA churches and other faith denominations, we have adopted a phased reopening plan, dependent on the prevalence of Covid-19 in our community.
We have chosen to follow the metric of percent positivity (number of positive tests divided by total tests given on each day) to make decisions about reopening at each phase. If the necessary safety tasks have been completed, limited in-person activities may begin when the Covid-19 positive test rate is less than 5% for two consecutive weeks (considered a low risk community rate by the World Health Organization) in our four-county region. Currently the rates in Duval and neighboring counties (St. Johns, Nassau, and Clay) are decreasing, but have not stayed below 5%.
At its September 1, 2020 Board meeting, the UUCJ Board passed this motion:
The Board supports going to phase 2 of the New Normal Team’s plan for re-opening if COVID-19 positivity rates in all four counties in northeast Florida are less than 5% for two weeks and if the many tasks identified for safe re-opening are completed.
The Reopening Plan Phases are as follows:
Phase 1: All Virtual Meetings (where we are now)
Phase 2: When local positive test rate is less than 5% for 2 consecutive weeks
- Small indoor gatherings (up to 10 persons)
- 6-foot social distancing, masks
- Campus modifications completed, and rigorous sanitation
- No food
- Local attendees only
Phase 3: When local positive rate is less than 5% for a time we have not yet determined
- Medium sized groups (up to 50 persons)
- 6-foot social distancing, masks
- Prepackaged food, disposable utensils (no buffet-style serving or potlucks)
- Limited non-local attendees
Phase 4: At some time in the future
- Indoor large groups
- Potluck or buffet style meals
- No social distancing
- No restriction on origin of attendees
A large component of the reopening plan is adequately preparing the campus for our physical presence to ensure a safe environment for any attendees. Church Mutual, UUCJ’s insurance company, has provided a detailed check list for assessing and preparing the church campus.
This detailed list includes:
PLANNING – Coordination with Duval County Health Department, developing protocols for social distancing, cleaning, playground use; blocking unused areas; minimizing printed materials; providing online services for at risk persons, etc.
BUILDING – Building cleaning and disinfection; optimizing HVAC system; developing signage for Covid-19 safety; safe-distance marking; arranging chairs for safety; providing signage for Entrance and Exit and “traffic flow”, etc.
SUPPLIES – Purchasing disinfection agents, hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer stations, masks, gloves
COMMUNICATION – Develop plan, update as necessary; frequent sharing of plan details with congregation members and friends through email, snail mail, and social media; reiterate staying home if sick/exposed
TRAINING – for ushers, volunteers
SERVICES – Disinfecting sanctuary, restrooms; seating attendees front to back; dismiss back to front; disinfecting following a service.
There are many tasks to be completed as we gradually move forward with this plan. UUCJ will need the contributions of many members to create a program that will one day allow us to gather successfully and safely!
Please consider providing your time and talent for this effort. If you are interested in any part of the process, contact one of the members of the New Normal Team:
Vince Ober firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheryl Anthony email@example.com
Donna Janesky firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Scholl email@example.com
Martha Aiken firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Franklin email@example.com
Teri Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org
For the Board and the New Normal Team