Dear members of our beloved community,

The development of this plan has been a community process with everyone invited to weigh in, and we’re grateful for your feedback, questions, and concerns. At the end of this document are answers to what we anticipate will be a few frequently asked questions.

In developing this plan, we have considered not only the science but also our JRUUC principles of inclusivity and accessibility and our abiding concern for the most vulnerable, both inside and outside our congregation. You will note that our criteria for reopening are more stringent than many of the schools, businesses, and houses of worship around us. This aligns with guidance from the UUA, which advises that a normally-operating congregation presents too many opportunities to spread a highly contagious respiratory virus like COVID-19. While the vaccination news is very encouraging, the pandemic is not yet behind us.

Our cautious approach in no way lessens our eagerness to return to in-person gatherings. We know that while there are risks and challenges in gathering together physically, there also are risks and challenges in prolonged solitude. We share your desire to again connect in a deep way, something that for many of us happens best through face-to-face interaction. This document addresses both indoor and outdoor gatherings, by incorporating the previously approved guidelines for outdoor gatherings. Please know that we are confident there will be many opportunities to come together safely outdoors as a beloved community, as small groups and eventually larger groups, in the warmer months. We anticipate these occasions with joy and excitement.

Because we cannot predict what course this pandemic will take, this plan is divided into “Levels of Concern” as opposed to phases. Each level is determined by criteria based upon the prevalence and direction of increase or decrease of the spread of the disease, as reported via the COVID Act Now Metrics for Dane County (see here for explanations of the metrics used). Within each level of concern, the guidelines identify acceptable degrees of physical gathering, alternative means of carrying through with our JRUUC mission, and required precautions to limit spread of the virus applied to several aspects of our congregational life.

Each level of concern is based on conditions in the community, such as the daily average of new COVID-19 cases and access to vaccines. When this plan was released in late April, we were at Level 4, the most restrictive. As community conditions improve, we will be able to move to lower levels of concern, which will allow us to loosen restrictions and return to more of the activities we love to do together. To avoid abnormal fluctuations, we will wait until the metrics have stabilized for two weeks before shifting to a lower level. The JRUUC COVID-19 Task Force will monitor the metrics and share the level of concern each Wednesday in the weekly email and on the JRUUC website.