The Reopening of Chalice as the Covid Pandemic Diminishes  – May 27, 2021

Reverend Nica, the Board and the Reopening Task Force want to update you on plans for Chalice’s Reopening, and also invite you to participate in an important survey below.
The title of this document itself reminds us that Covid is not truly being “conquered,” but rather diminished. We must remain masked and vigilant even if California moves past the color coded system on June 15th as currently proposed. It is our belief, grounded in the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism, and on the science that is currently known, that Chalice should resist the temptation to open up too quickly.

 

We are keenly aware of these words from President of the UUA, Reverend Susan Frederick Gray in March 2021,  “Navigating this ‘in-between time’ will be even more challenging than dealing with the early days of the pandemic. Those who are vaccinated may wish to start gathering in person sooner. Each person and family will have different levels of risk and risk tolerance. As leaders, we have to navigate complex decisions taking into account care for the whole of our communities—within and beyond our congregations. Our priority continues to be abiding care for the most vulnerable, within and beyond our congregations.”

 

Having examined reopening documents from several other congregations, most of them months old and no longer consistent with the pandemic’s arc as evidenced in either the national or Ventura County data, the one document that still rings true is the guidance provided by the UUA and its leaders. Within those guidelines are the deeply-held values of care for the most vulnerable, the interdependent web of all, and the need for accessibility and inclusion of our members, friends, and those who may seek us out.

 

Ventura County is now (late May) in the Orange Tier, and the move toward the Yellow and even Green is possible, if not likely, in the near future. Already in Orange, the state says we can have up to 100 people or 50% of our sanctuary capacity filled, and the numbers go up even more in the other less restrictive tiers. Our county health professionals have worked extremely hard, and it is not the Task Force’s position to argue with their science or metrics.

 

Our UU values run deeper than just adhering to government and health authority regulations however. We have a duty and obligation to all who choose to worship with us, whether in person, or online. With this as our North Star, we are also building our reopening plans around the rollout of technology that will support quality multi-platform worship.

 

Finally, all of the recommendations below, and especially those with dates attached, are subject to Board review as the COVID pandemic changes.

 

The Reopening Task Force, RTF when mentioned below, therefore recommends the following:

 

  1. All of the following targets and dates are contingent upon Ventura County’s continued improvement with regard to vaccination availability and percentage of county residents being vaccinated, as well as the infection rate, number of daily new cases, and ICU bed availability. If one or more of those indices mentioned below move in the wrong direction for two straight weeks, any reopening plans are put on immediate hold pending deliberation by the RTF and Board.
  2. In conjunction with other UU congregations in our cluster, Chalice plans to begin indoor Sanctuary services with Ingathering on September 12, 2021.
  3. Chalice affiliated small groups may begin to meet Outside Only, with no more than 12 masked attendees after Sunday June 15th. These groups or committees may meet in person only if all members of said group agree to meet that way. If, due to personal health risks or beliefs, one or more members chooses not to meet in person then the group must remain with Zoom meetings. The RTF will prepare initial meeting protocols by June 10 informed by CDC and State recommendations.
  4. The RTF, working with the Facilities Director and the RE Director, will by July 1 create safety protocols, cleaning procedures and forms to allow small groups of up to 12 to meet indoors as early as August 1.
  5. RTF will also create, with a completion target of August 1, full service safety protocols and cleaning procedures for both the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall so as to be ready for Ingathering.
  6. Reverend Nica and Worship Committee/Tech experts, will prepare a plan for the 2021-2022 church year to be delivered in a multi-platform format, both live and via Zoom. We want in person attendees to have safe, engaging worship and those participating virtually to feel included and participatory.
  7. The Board will distribute a survey to gather information regarding reopening, which is attached.
  8. RTF is against requiring vaccine ID cards either for members or guests of Chalice.
  9. An Addendum to our Covenant of Good Relations, with regard to the pandemic, has been created by RTF, and then adopted by the Board. The Board will introduce the covenant addendum to the congregation and it will be read before all in person meetings and posted in the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall.
  10. Safety measures including face masks may remain in place during the gradual reopening and will be periodically reviewed by the Board as needed.
  11. Singing and music is an important part of our services and shared worship experience. However, there are risks of higher transmission that must be considered. We will continue to monitor the evidence and the Board will consider purchasing either special “singer’s” masks or plexiglass partitions for the choir or guest musicians to be able to sing. The congregation as a whole, may not be able to sing together inside the sanctuary until it is deemed to be safe. Singing together outside, as in a song at the end of the service sung together in the parking lot, may be allowed.

 

Please complete the confidential congregational survey at the following link as soon as possible, but by June 1 at the latest: 
This ensures your input into the evolving plans. It will take no more than 5 minutes of your time. Information is for planning purposes only and will be held in confidence.

 

Thank you.
In faith and care,

 

Rev Nica, the Board of Trustees of Chalice and the Reopening Task Force

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