August 20, 2020
The following guidelines are designed for building use during phases 1 and 2 of UUS’s coronavirus pandemic building and grounds reopening plan. During these phases the building is closed with only staff allowed to work in the building. A few limited exceptions to staff working in the building are allowed. In Phase 3 more building uses will be allowed so these building use guidelines will be revisited to ensure employee and member safety.
Our Unitarian Universalist faith centers covenants. One of the covenants that we make with one another is to try to keep each other safe and growing in body, mind, and spirit. We don’t often talk a lot about this covenant, but we trust that it’s there. And sometimes we do talk about this covenant explicitly, like when a congregation’s leaders create safety policies and procedures. During the coronavirus pandemic, this has been needed and has become clear in new ways. We’ve learned that congregations have a significant role to play in how covid-19 spreads. We can take actions that help slow the spread and protect members, staff, and friends of UUS and the wider community. We’re committed to doing that as a faith community.
As UU faith communities, we’re also committed to justice. As UUs, we affirm our interdependence, we commit to encouraging each other’s spiritual growth, and we declare that we will work for a world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. One of the ways that we live these commitments out in congregations is by working to ensure that the congregation is accessible to all. In the recent past, UUS has worked on accessibility, particularly as the congregation designed and built our new building, and as we developed ways of using our new spaces. As UUS has moved online due to the pandemic, we continue to be conscious of the need to not create a two-tiered congregation where some members can meet in person and others can’t due to health concerns and are thereby excluded from full participation in the congregation based on ability. This commitment is directly related to our faith’s commitment to justice. At the same time, we recognize the importance of contact with other humans, including in-person, safe contact, for emotional and mental wellbeing. As we move into the 2020-21 church year we will try to hold and respond to both of these needs as best we can.
Finally, as we reflect on how to proceed, we affirm that congregations aren’t limited by buildings. While we love our sacred spaces and this congregation is deeply connected with UUS’s buildings and grounds, UUS is not the buildings and the grounds. Rather, the Unitarian Universalist Society is a group of people who are committed to being a congregation and are bound in covenant with one another.
Employees may work from home or at the UUS building following covid-19 health guidelines. Members must have an exception to use the church building for specific, limited essential purposes such as signing checks, essential custodial and maintenance services, building safety checks, and necessary material gathering. No meetings or gatherings are allowed except as outlined below.
- UUS core staff (Rev. Diana Smith, Peggy Garrigues, Emma Barnum, and Jessica Zimmer) may determine whether a member volunteer is allowed to use the building.
- Exceptions to allow a member to use the building during closure will usually be given for one occasion unless a member is engaged in an ongoing task such as watering plants.
- Request building use exceptions in advance and track building use. Whether someone is allowed to use the building on a single occasion or in an ongoing manner, the exception should be requested in advance and the staff giving approval will note when the volunteer will be in the building on the shadow calendar. Staff will track their building use on the shadow calendar. Tracking who is using the building allows staff and members to manage their own health risk and allows for better contract tracing if a staff person or member who used the building is diagnosed with covid-19.
- Sign in and out of the building. Members entering the building must sign in and out on the sign-in sheet that will be near the inner door in the buiilding entryway.
Anyone exhibiting symptoms of covid-19 or diagnosed with covid-19 must not enter the building. Symptoms include cough, fever (1.5 degrees or more above your baseline temperature), shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of tast or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.
- Notify us if you’re diagnosed with covid-19. Anyone who is diagnosed with covid-19 should notify Rev. Diana Smith or their supervisor so that others who were potentially in contact with them may get tested. Covid-19 diagnoses will be kept confidential. Notifications of possible contact with someone diagnosed with covid-19 will be done without naming the individual.
Mask, hygiene, and space requirements for using the building:
- Masks, hygiene practices, and volunteer sign-in and out are required. Employees and volunteers who are allowed to use the building must wear a face mask if they are in any communal part of the building (an area other than an individual office with a door that closes). They must also follow the hygiene practices given below. Volunteers must sign in and out of the building.
- Someone may work alone in a closed office without a mask. Employees and volunteers who are allowed to use the building may work alone in their individual offices with their doors closed without a mask on. Two employees or volunteer shouldn’t use offices that have the same air supply at the same time without a mask. If two or more employees or volunteers need to use offices that share an air supply at the same time then they must all wear masks and should try to maximize ventilation or meet outside. If another employee or volunteer comes to meet with them, then the employee or volunteer must put on a face mask before opening their door to talk.
- Minimizing meeting length and maximizing ventilation. If employees or employees and members need to have an in-person meeting they should minimize meeting length, try to meet outside if possible, and maximize ventilation.
- Incidental users must wear masks, sign in and out, and maintain hygiene practices. Incidental use of other areas by someone dropping off something, etc, may occur. Anyone using the building for an incidental purpose to drop off an item, sign checks, etc, must wear a mask and follow all hygiene practices given below.
- Maintain hand hygiene and disinfect surfaces. Employees and volunteers using the building must maintain good hand hygiene (washing frequently and using hand sanitizer when washing isn’t possible) and wipe down surfaces with disinfecting cleaners before and following use. This includes an employee wiping down surfaces in their office. UUS will provide supplies for doing this.
- Music recording requirements. Music may be recorded in the building. If more than one musician is required for recording then anyone other than the UUS Music Facilitator must receive an exemption and a specific safety plan must be followed. Every musician must remain at least 6 feet or more away from all others, every person must wear a mask, and no one may sing, shout, or play a wind instrument, or breathe deeply to play music (i.e., everyone present to record music must be breathing at normal levels/not forcefully behind a face mask). Efforts to maintain extra air circulation should be taken. Singing by a staff person or a member may be recorded in the church building provided the singer is alone in their own office. Others should not enter the space where singing was done the same day. Hand hygiene and surface disinfection practices outlined above must be followed.
- Incidental use by grounds volunteers should be avoided and requires wearing a mask and following hand hygiene and disinfecting practices. Grounds volunteers should plan ahead to try to avoid using the UUS bathroom. If a grounds volunteer finds they need to enter the building to use the bathroom, they must wear a mask, follow all hygiene requirements (sanitizing surfaces, etc), and check in and out on the sign-in sheet. Grounds volunteers should not be on the UUS premises or enter the building if they are diagnosed with covid-19 or have symptoms of covid-19.
** Guidelines will be updated if additional information about the novel coronavirus, covid-19, transmission, and safety practices becomes known. **
- Johnson County Mask Guidelines: https://coronavirus-johnsoncounty.hub.arcgis.com/
- Updated Risk Information, including: https://www.erinbromage.com/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them
- Case Study from Canada: https://calgary.ctvnews.ca/mobile/i-would-do-anything-for-a-do-over-calgary-church-hopes-others-learn-from-their-tragic-covid-19-experience-1.4933461?fbclid=IwAR1sM_VOkwwqRfUbKNhCLzGxYxN4KC5bNpFbdzkKkIv0vqdIJMyWiQybrO0
- UUA Resources: https://www.uua.org/safe/pandemics
- Church Mutual Reopening Guidance, including waiver: https://coronavirus.churchmutual.com/resources/
- Phased Return Plan from WI Council of Churches (WUUC would be at phase 1 at least through the summer): https://www.wichurches.org/2020/04/23/returning-to-church/
- National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference: https://www.middleclassartist.com/post/nats-panel-of-experts-lays-out-sobering-future-for-singers-no-vaccine-no-safe-public-singing?fbclid=IwAR27r03bsmcC163JOdJBNx1cs8Ec0LKJtFHY8KZQOA4ia7BOMYkTITVuGmw
- Phasing Forward Plan from Southern New England Conference of UCC: https://www.sneucc.org/phasingforward