Guidelines for Outdoor In-Person Events Summer 2021
UPDATE: September 22, 2021
For October, we our focusing our efforts on quality outdoor services, to be held on October 3, 17, and 31 (weather permitting), with special in-person outdoor Religious Education for children on each of those days. These services will be fully masked, and we ask that all eligible people be vaccinated. Come be with your UCWC community! Services on October 10 and 24 will be on our YouTube Live page.
We encourage outdoor events of any size. Please wear masks for events involving singing or children under 12, and please respect the wishes of participants who prefer masks to be worn.
Small and medium sized indoor events may take place in the upstairs spaces of the congregation, with masking, ventilation from outdoors and social distancing. We especially encourage use of the sanctuary for this purpose. This includes indoor, in-person religious education events. Please no food at indoor events.
As always, these guidelines are subject to change based on current COVID 19 numbers.
UPDATE: August 10, 2021:
New addition: Guidelines for small indoor events
Any indoor meeting for UCWC purposes is permitted only for purposes where youths under age 12 are not expected to attend (e.g. small groups, committee meetings). Masks are once again required when meeting indoors.
For outdoor UCWC gatherings:
Where children under age 12 participate in an outdoor setting, all involved must wear masks. When dropping masks to eat or drink, please be sure to maintain social distancing. For outdoor events involving only those age 12 and up, masks are strongly recommended.
Please note: Your church leaders are still hopeful that it may be possible to resume small, in-person worship at our sanctuary at some point early this fall. A final decision on that will be made once Rev. Dan returns from sabbatical later in August.
Outdoor gatherings continue to be the safest. Under current conditions, and subject to change as conditions warrant, small gatherings are permitted indoors where children who are too young to be vaccinated are not attending (e.g. committees, small group ministries). Gatherings must be off-site (UCWC building is still closed). Please honor any request for participants to wear masks, or for allowing remote participation via Zoom or similar virtual method (i.e. hold a hybrid meeting).
As more of us are vaccinated, we look forward to meeting with each other in person again. As we determine when and how it is safe to hold such events, we hold to Unitarian Universalist principles of the inherent worth and dignity of every person, justice, equity and compassion, and the interconnected web of all existence of which we are a part. We also keep in mind the “guidance of reason and the results of science.” In particular we emphasize safety, inclusivity, and public health.
Because the COVID situation has fluctuated in Chester County, and because new variants appear to be both more contagious and more deadly than previous ones, we have turned to objective criteria that must be met before we can hold in-person events, and we ask that all events keep in mind the needs of those who are not vaccinated or have unvaccinated people in their immediate circles. We will continue not to hold indoor events at our building or in-person worship services through the Summer.
These guidelines apply to official events only – of course some friends will choose to visit with each other in person. We do ask that regular UCWC groups honor the guidelines and resist the temptation to hold unofficial group meetings.
Criteria for Events:
For in-person events (other than drive-up / walk-up), the Test Positivity rate for Chester County must have been below 5% as reported by the Chester County Health Department for at least the two weeks prior to the event.
To see the most recent Chester County Health Department report, click here and scroll down to the chart on page 2 indicating “Positive PCR Tests” for Chester County. “Percent PCR Positivity” is in the last column.
Drive Up / Walk Up Events
Outdoor events that do not require extended gatherings are acceptable even if the test positivity rate exceeds 5%, so long as social distancing and masking are carefully maintained. Examples of such events include viewing an outdoor art display at the congregation, picking up kindness rocks, etc.
Regular Groups and Events:
For regular events, i.e. Small Group Ministry, Adult RE, etc., it is vital err on the side of inclusiveness. If any participating individual is unvaccinated or uncomfortable with an outdoor in-person meeting, they should be encouraged to inform the event organizer, and the event will be moved back online or a remote attendance option should be offered. We urge groups to agree that such requests will be fully supported. The assumption should be that such an event would be an exception, rather than the rule. Remember also that holding discussion groups (ie, small group ministry sessions or adult RE) outdoors at a social distance can present difficulties for members with hearing loss. For this reason, a one-time informal “Meet and See” is preferable to holding regular meetings or full-scale sessions/classes outdoors.
For special events, planned for outdoors, every effort should be made to be as inclusive as possible, and consider the needs of households with unvaccinated people (especially households with children). Steps need to be taken to maintain safety for all.
Guidelines for Events:
- It is impossible for us to know who is fully vaccinated and who is not. At the same time, outdoor transmission has been determined to be extremely rare. Therefore, at events of fewer than 8 people, masks are optional so long as social distancing can be maintained and everyone present agrees. Groups should agree ahead of time to respect the wishes of anyone who wishes the event to be fully masked, and participants should always be prepared to mask.
- Events of more than 8 people, and all events involving children too young to be vaccinated, should be held outside. At those events, or events at which social distancing cannot be consistently maintained, we ask that all participants wear masks.
- 6 feet of social distancing should be maintained.
- Event organizers should have sanitizer on hand.
- Food should not be provided (people can bring own beverages). This may change for specific events over summer, ie, “Bring Your Own ice Cream” social, which must be approved by the Executive Team.
- Group singing should be avoided due to additional COVID risks
- In the week prior to an event the positive test rate for Chester County should be double checked to make sure the event can go forward in person
- Events in public parks must conform with their rules on gatherings, and all local regulations must be maintained.
- Events on the congregation property must be cleared with Executive Team (but it’s not an ideal locale due to space and noise)
- If CDC or Chester County Health Department guidelines change to become more restrictive than these guidelines, follow their guidelines. We will monitor and update these guidelines as new information becomes available.
Please remember that even knowledgeable and well-intentioned people often slip up in terms of social distancing with friends they have not seen in a long time. It is important to remain vigilant through the remainder of the pandemic. Please also remember that no vaccine protects 100% against COVID-19. Even vaccinated people can become ill or transmit the disease, although the risk becomes substantially lower. By carefully following these guidelines, we are holding to our Unitarian Universalist values and protecting the safety of all.