As a spiritual community, we at ERUUF strive to create a culture of respect and care for one another. Our Covid-19 policies have been guided by serious concern and consideration for the safety and well-being of all ERUUF members, staff, and visitors, with a commitment to equity and care for the most vulnerable among us and those who are marginalized both at ERUUF and in the larger community.
Despite the end of mask mandates in most public places, Covid-19 exposure continues. While vaccines and boosters have minimized the health impact on most people, it has not eliminated the risk of infection -- a risk that continues to have a critical impact for some. In addition, there has been a significant rise in hospitalizations resulting from RSV (respiratory syncytial [sin-SISH-uhl] virus) and flu among both young children and adults.
Given the ability of these viruses to spread so rapidly, and to result in a severe impact for some, our updated Covid-19 policy strives for a "middle way”, aiming to be inclusive and caring for people of all ages and health statuses at ERUUF, and providing attention to safety while also offering choices for how we'll be in community during this current phase of the Covid-19 virus.
Below are updated guidelines for specific activities at ERUUF:
- Masks are required for in-person attendance by congregants.
- Worship leaders, speakers, and music soloists present minimal risk to others in a room the size of our sanctuary. Worship participants in these roles do not need to wear a mask while presenting during services. Soloists will be positioned on the chancel floor farther away from the pews.
- Those singing in choirs, choruses, or in groups of two or more participants will continue to wear masks.
- Coffee/beverage service and the serving of light snacks can take place inside the Fellowship Hall after worship services.
- Masks are optional but highly recommended inside the Fellowship Hall when people are not actively eating or drinking.
- Tabling by ERUUF groups and gatherings after Sunday services can take place inside the Fellowship Hall, in meeting rooms, OR outdoors at a group's discretion. Sunday tabling by ERUUF groups is encouraged to offer opportunities to connect as a community.
- Food can be served indoors at this time.
- It is highly recommended that food be prepared and provided by a catering service or restaurant that is accountable to Durham health department food safety guidelines.
- Communal meals can be prepared and served while at ERUUF, with group accountability for careful attention to masking and handwashing or wearing gloves as a requirement for anyone involved in preparing and serving food.
- Social distancing while consuming meals indoors is highly recommended.
Religious Education for Children and Youth:
- All nursery workers and visitors are required to wear masks.
- Teachers as well as children aged 3 years through fifth grade are required to wear masks.
- Middle School and High School Youth Group teachers and students can be “mask optional,” upon reaching a consensus that centers on the most vulnerable needs named by those in these groups.
Adult Classes and Group Meetings:
- Classes, meetings, and events for adults may take place outdoors or indoors, with masking optional.
- All groups are asked to aim for a consensus about meeting locations and masking that centers on the most vulnerable needs named by those in the group.
- When planning in-person classes, meetings, and events we strongly advocate for multi-platform (online and in-person) gatherings that would allow for the inclusion of all who want to participate. Reach out to Staff Partners for suggestions on how to support this goal; contact ERUUF's office for training on how to use the technology available in our meeting rooms for multi-platform meetings.
Renters for Private Events:
- Renters of space at ERUUF for private events may implement their own Covid-19 policy for masking and food at gatherings.
- ERUUF staff working at such events are encouraged to adhere to ERUUF's Covid-19 policies for their personal safety and well-being. Staff can refrain from working in situations that they believe will pose a personal health risk.
In general, we advise everyone to:
- Remain at home if you or your child is feeling ill, or has a cough, sniffles, or fever. Let us know if there's anything we can do to support you.
- If you become infected with Covid-19, consult with your health provider and CDC guidelines for current information on best practices.
- As you plan meetings and gatherings, be mindful of the inclusion of all group members, especially those with specific health needs.
- Be mindful about greeting each other, staff, and ministers in a large group (wave, bump elbows, give “air hugs”, use fist-bumps, etc); not doing so puts others at risk.
- Continue to give attention to regular handwashing.
- Receive vaccinations and boosters if eligible to do so.
In future updates to these guidelines, we will continue to monitor public health conditions, and rely on the expertise of ERUUF's public health safety advisors as well as guidance provided by the CDC, NCDHHS, and the UUA.