UUS Phased Reopening Plan
Our primary concern is keeping everyone who attends UUS safe. The Board of Trustees has voted to have the minister and staff operationalize the rules for how each phase is put into practice, and provided them with recommendations on these practices. The minister has created a COVID Team to do this work, made of staff and members of the congregation with expertise or familiarity on how to operate during a pandemic. Decisions made by the Team and approved by the Board will be communicated to the congregation through all regular channels and posted to this page. The unpredictability of the COVID pandemic means UUS may have to reverse which phase we are in as the positivity rates go up and down.
The COVID Team Promise
We will do all we can to not put people’s lives at risk when coming to worship or other UUS events. Church is not worth dying for. Our mission to nurture spirits and help heal the world continues through connecting in a variety of online activities and programs.
We are committed to full inclusion. We will assure there is a way for everyone to be included in worship services when we begin in person services again. We will only go forward with in-person services when people who cannot attend in person can continue to participate online. While not everyone will be able to be included in group gatherings, we look to offer a variety of different ways for members/friends to engage with UUS so there is something for everyone. We seek to protect the health of all who use the building: staff, elders, adults, youth, children, renters and contractors.
We will use only vetted up-to-date medical and public health information from reliable sources to make decisions. We will obey the laws and guidelines set by the State of Iowa and guidelines given by the CDC. We may hold ourselves to an even more stringent standard. We will be transparent with the congregation and consider their input. We will apply all recommendations consistently, not making exceptions for individual desires, renters, status at UUS, or financial impact.
Monitoring COVID Rates
The phases of our Reopening Plan correspond with the risk levels provided by COVID Act Now for Johnson County. The data on this site is updated weekly on Thursdays, reflecting the state of Iowa’s reporting schedule. Monthly meeting minutes will be submitted to the board in advance of board meeting. Recommendations for changing the phases for reopening or guidelines will be made as science and data change, holding this information together with our covenantal concern for all members of our congregation and our responsibility to the larger community, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. The Board has the ultimate decision-making authority for the safety of all attending UUS.
Our Phased Reopening Plan was last updated 8/18/21. Find the full version (PDF) here. Highlights of the current Phases are posted below.
For all phases, people at risk (including those over 60 years) are encouraged to stay home. Sick or exposed people should stay home. Anyone who tests positive for COVID after visiting UUS MUST inform a member of the staff.
While UUS supports everyone getting a vaccine who can do so, we will not require everyone to receive the vaccine when we are able to gather again, understanding that many people, including most children and youth, are not able to be vaccinated at this time, and that people who cannot be vaccinated may not be comfortable sharing that information.
Severe Risk/Dark Red (over 75 daily new cases per 100,000).
The building and grounds are closed and services are online only. Masks required for all.
Very High Risk/Red (25 to 75 daily new cases per 100,000).
Scheduled groups may meet outside, and groups of up to 15 may meet inside. Services are online but service participants may lead from the Sanctuary. Masks required inside when in a shared space. Masks required outside unless working alone or in a small/medium group that comes to a covenantal agreement.
High Risk/Orange (10 to 25 daily new cases per 100,000).
Scheduled groups allowed inside and outside. Services are multiplatform (both in person and Zoom), with the Sanctuary divided into sections based on the Traffic Light Gathering Guide. (Red: Need distance; Yellow: Use caution; give some space, ask; Green: I don’t need space). RE Commons and Fellowship Hall are extra red light seating areas. Masks required inside when in a shared space, and outside for congregation-wide or public gatherings. Masks are not required outside when working alone or in a small/medium group that has come to a covenantal agreement.
Medium Risk/Yellow (1-10 daily new cases per 100,000). Scheduled groups allowed inside and outside. Services are multiplatform (both in person and Zoom), with the Sanctuary divided into sections based on the Traffic Light Gathering Guide. RE Commons and Fellowship Hall are extra red light seating areas. Masks required inside when in a shared space. Masks required inside when in a shared space, and outside for congregation-wide or public gatherings. Masks are not required when working outside alone or in a small/medium group (inside or outside) that has come to a covenantal agreement.
Low Risk-New Normal/Green (less than 1 daily new case per 100,000). The building and grounds are open. Services are multiplatform (both in person and Zoom). Mask guidelines based on current science.
Things to Consider Before Scheduling an In-Person and/or Maskless Group Meeting at Any Phase to Promote Inclusion:
The decision to meet in-person without masks (when the phases allow) must be made in advance, with all in agreement. Both the decision to meet in person and to meet without masks must be made using inclusion, covenant, consent, and care for each other when deciding how to meet.
- Are there parents in your group who are not able to leave young children to attend an in-person meeting?
- Are there people in your group who may not be able to be vaccinated, or who have children under 12 or other at risk contacts who might not be able to be vaccinated?
- Are there people in your group who may not be comfortable saying no to meeting in person or maskless, even though they want to?
- Are there people in your group who may not want to share their difficulties with health or other issues that may stop them from meeting in person?
- Is there anyone in your group that will not be able to hear if all are wearing masks?
- If the majority choose to meet in-person, how will you include anyone who cannot participate? Is it better to continue to meet via Zoom until your group can all meet in person?
If groups are having challenges with their conversations, we encourage them to reach out to the Right Relations Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org) for support with navigating UUS’s covenant of right relations. Here are some resources on consent from the UUA: Mask & Covenantal Consent and Touch Consent and Masking Comics.