For the longest time over the course of this pandemic, we were in “hurry up and wait” mode. But suddenly with vaccines rolling out so quickly and successfully, conditions are changing rapidly for the better. And now we find ourselves in something like a “hurry up and catch up” mode.
At this time the ERUUF campus remains “outdoor use only” and the current COVID-19 guidelines apply. However, the Coordinating Team is now working to update the safety guidelines to take into account the new, more relaxed CDC and NC HHS guidelines. Our updated guidelines will be tied to the same objective metrics that are monitored by public health officials. As we’ve done in the past, we’ll get feedback on these updates from some of our members who work as physicians or in public health, and then we’ll share them with our Board and members on our website. We’ll also reach out to group and program leaders to share the updated guidelines, and we’ll post them around campus.
Here are some things to keep in mind: ERUUF feels like “home” to many of us, but it’s actually a public space. This means that some things that it’s ok to do at home in small groups, such as eating together, might not yet be possible on campus at this time. Another factor is that as a congregation we’re actually an interconnected network, which means that policies and practices that affect one part of us actually affect everyone. So we do things like “post them around campus,” and distribute them and host orientation sessions for leaders and this can take time.
And then there’s the importance of inclusion. Some of the most isolated people among us are actually the people who are most in need of live, in-person community right now. These include children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine and adults with immunity issues who aren’t able to be vaccinated at this time. This means that some parts of our updated guidelines may not be as fully relaxed as new CDC and state guidelines.
This is because we’re seeking ways to be as inclusive as possible so that people of all ages who are still restricted can have some safe in-person time in community. What it might mean is that if one group member isn’t able to be vaccinated, all the group members would agree to wear masks when they’re together. Wearing a mask even though you’ve been vaccinated is one way that we can practice equity together.
Policies and Operating Guidelines are written with clarity and firmness. This “letter of the law” aspect provides specific guidance that will help us continue to keep each other safe. And yet there’s another very important part of all this that is nowhere in print. And this is the “spirit of love” that’s written on our hearts, that at times we can sense as a living presence at the heart of our community. It’s the spirit of love that moves us to offer compassion to ourselves and others when nerves and relationships get strained. It’s the spirit of love that enables us to extend kindness and not make the most vulnerable feel as though they’re a burden, but instead affirms their inherent value and dignity. It’s the spirit of love that enables us to give each other some space, cut each other some slack, and offer each other encouragement and affirmation as we begin to learn how to be together in person again after so much time apart.
The Coordinating Team will share the updated policies as soon as possible.
Image by Nick Fewings, from Unsplash.com. Used with permission.