COVID-19 Precautions Update
    May 14, 2021

     With this week’s CDC announcement of new mask guidance (and Pennsylvania’s concurrence), we are sending you this update to the Church’s worship and fellowship protocols. This supplements the more detailed set of policies we outlined in our May 6 email (let us know if you need a copy). 

    New Mask Standards

    In brief, the CDC announcement allows masks to be voluntary in almost all settings for those who are fully vaccinated. In keeping with our commitment to update our policies consistent with CDC and Pennsylvania rules, we are making the following updates, beginning this Sunday, May 16:

    • For those who are fully vaccinated masks are optional in any Church worship or fellowship activity. 
    • For those who are not yet fully vaccinated, masks are still required for Sunday worship and music rehearsals, from building entry through departure and including the time while participating in the service, whether in the sanctuary or in Davidson Chapel. Going forward we will make modifications to this standard consistent with changes in state and federal policy, currently targeted when Pennsylvania reaches a 70 percent vaccination rate.
    • We will maintain live streaming to Davidson Chapel, where chairs will still be set with distancing for those who prefer that format.
    • For the time being, Christian Education asks all children’s church volunteers to continue to wear a mask while in the classroom with students.
    • Privacy rules prevent us from asking anyone’s vaccination status, and so we are relying on each individual’s honesty before the congregation and our LORD, and our care for the health and safety of each other, that a choice not to wear a mask is consistent with the rule.
    • We are keeping in place our exception to the mask requirement for all participants in small gatherings, so long as safe distancing can be and is maintained. Masks will be optional for small groups, defined as 15 or fewer in Davidson Chapel and Fellowship Hall or 10 or fewer in the larger rooms of the Education Wing. Because this is contingent on distancing, masks should be maintained by those who are non-vaccinated when in larger groups or groups where close seating is required.
    • Some have asked whether having had and recovered from COVID, and having antibodies as a result, substitutes for vaccination. The new CDC guidance is silent on the matter and we will not make a judgment on the point, but from their website: “Getting COVID-19 may offer some protection, known as natural immunity. Current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the months after initial infection, but may increase with time. The risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19 far outweighs any benefits of natural immunity. COVID-19 vaccination will help protect you by creating an antibody (immune system) response without having to experience sickness.”
    • We will continue to delay fully reinstituting the traditional version of coffee café until the mask guidelines are lifted altogether but, as promised, be on the lookout for some occasional outdoor special events this summer!
    • Please be mindful that many in our congregation have not yet been able to finish their vaccination sequence. Vaccines only recently became available for all adults in Pennsylvania, teenagers only received the go-ahead to get vaccinated on Wednesday, and vaccines have yet to be approved at all for young children. While people are going through the vaccination process, there will be a period of time when some will have the freedom to remove their mask in church and others will not. We appreciate your kind understanding on behalf of those individuals.
    • Likewise, we recognize that there may be many who will choose to continue wearing masks for some time to come even if vaccinated, and that in the near term the mix of masked and unmasked congregants may be confusing for some. We want to acknowledge those preferences and concerns, and ask everyone to understand that those choices are made for personal reasons that may relate to underlying health conditions, capacity to be vaccinated, higher-level workplace requirements or other circumstances. We appreciate your kind understanding of those choices.

     As Always, Let Us Hear From You

    As we as a congregation and community continue our journey back to normalcy, there will inevitably be questions, comments and suggestions. As always, please let us know!

     

     



    COVID-19 Precautions Update
    May 9, 2021

    Sunday Worship

    • Pennsylvania lifts all business restrictions on May 31. For our worship, it means that beginning with the June 6 service capacity and distancing requirements no longer need to be followed. You will be free to sit in any location in the sanctuary. We will also maintain live streaming to Davidson Chapel, where chairs will still be set with distancing for those who prefer that format. And our YouTube channel live stream, which has been such a blessing to those who cannot attend in person for whatever reason, will become a permanent part of our ministry.
    • Between now and June 6, capacity and distancing requirements remain in effect. However, noting that the congregation is well accustomed to the distancing protocols, we will remove the somewhat inhospitable caution tape from the pews, and instead simply request everyone to remain observant of the distancing requirements for the next few weeks.
    • Also between now and June 6, we still ask for entry through the 21st Street doors and exit through the Market Street doors. This request will be lifted beginning June 6.

     

    Sanitizing

    • The sanitizing guidelines are now more applicable to spaces that are in everyday use, and so we will no longer be sanitizing the sanctuary on Sundays. 
    • Because Davidson Chapel is frequently used for other gatherings, we will continue to sanitize it after Sunday services, and ask any other groups using it to also sanitize at the conclusion of their meeting if there’s a reasonable expectation that others will be using it any time in the 24 hours following their meeting.

     

    Sunday School Classes, Community Groups and Boards

    • Small group gatherings are welcome in the Church. Between now and May 31, to maintain current distancing requirements (particularly seating arrangements) small groups should continue to meet in Davidson Chapel or Fellowship Hall, although groups of 10 or fewer can meet in the larger 2nd floor room of the Education Wing.
    • Beginning May 31, the capacity restrictions are lifted and so larger groups and closer seating arrangements will be permitted. 

    Masks

    • Masks are still required for Sunday worship and music rehearsals, from building entry through departure and including the time while participating in the service, whether in the sanctuary or in Davidson Chapel. Going forward we will make modifications to this standard consistent with changes in state and federal policy, currently targeted when Pennsylvania reaches a 70 percent vaccination rate. We anticipate that determination will run independent of the May 31 business reopening, and we will keep you updated. In the meantime, we are grateful for your full cooperation.
    • While guidance for vaccinated individuals permits optional masking when everyone in the room is vaccinated, 1) health privacy laws prohibit us from asking anyone’s vaccination status and 2) it is unlikely that all people in a mass gathering will be vaccinated, so there is no practical way for us to make this part of our protocols. 
    • However, we have determined that an acceptable exception to the mask requirement is for small group gatherings, so long as safe distancing can be and is maintained. Effective immediately, masks will be optional for small groups, defined as 15 or fewer in Davidson Chapel and Fellowship Hall or 10 or fewer in the larger rooms of the Education Wing. Because this is contingent on distancing, masks should be maintained for larger groups or groups where close seating is required.
    • Please note our purposeful use of the word “optional” for the small group standard and for the time when state and federal rules change. We recognize that there may be many who will choose to continue wearing masks for some time to come. We want to acknowledge that preference, and ask everyone to understand that those choices are made for deeply personal reasons that may relate to underlying health conditions, capacity to be vaccinated, higher-level workplace requirements or other circumstances. We appreciate your kind understanding of those choices.

     

    Coffee Café

    • The nature of coffee café makes it inherently difficult to maintain either distancing or masking requirements, and so a decision on resuming coffee café will be made at a later date.
    • But with the arrival of better weather and the relaxation of outdoor rules, be on the lookout for some occasional outdoor special events following the worship service this summer!