CURRENTLY: masking will be left to the discretion of individuals who are up to date with their vaccinations.
Please take the time to read our more comprehensive statement below. Also, please note that our practice will remain fluid and responsive to CDC guidelines and risk levels here in Licking County. We will offer updates if and when the need presents itself.
A special thanks to Joan Novak and Julie Mulroy for their work on this statement!
We appreciate how our community has come together to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere while reducing the risk of COVID transmission. Our COVID practices remain flexible; they will be adjusted as situations change and new knowledge emerges. Please keep consulting “What’s Up at UCG” for updates about local conditions and COVID recommendations.
CDC guidelines will continue to shape our COVID practices. At this time, the CDC is classifying each county according to the risk that COVID infections would overwhelm its healthcare systems: low risk (green), medium risk (yellow), and high risk (orange). Licking County finally achieved the low-risk (green) classification as the ides of March was approaching.
When the CDC classifies Licking County in the low or medium risk level (green or yellow), masking decisions at UCG will normally be left to the discretion of individuals who are up to date with their vaccinations. Some may choose to mask in our more enclosed spaces even if they remove their masks in our large, better ventilated, sanctuary. However, we certainly hope that anyone who is experiencing symptoms or was recently exposed to someone with COVID would choose to wear a high-quality mask in all of our spaces. We will also continue to improve the Zoom experience so that attending worship at home provides an attractive option.
We strive to be sensitive to the dilemmas confronting fully vaccinated people who still remain at higher risk for developing severe illness from COVID. This includes the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with a number of other medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. As the CDC currently acknowledges, these people continue to “face challenging decisions [when] navigating a world with COVID-19.” We anticipate that some of these individuals, as well as some people who regularly interact with more vulnerable persons, will be among the members who will choose to wear masks during our services. To help reduce their risk, certain sections in our sanctuary will be reserved for masked individuals who would also like to practice social distancing. We apologize in advance to those who are inconvenienced by these temporary accommodations.
There may be times when we will ask everyone in the congregations to wear masks again. For example, this would happen if Licking County’s risk level ever rises again to the high (orange) risk level and perhaps even if rapidly-rising case numbers are heading in that direction. It might also occur if someone who attended a service later tested positive for COVID. Our church leadership will decide if and when this additional precaution becomes expedient.
We certainly value your past, present, and anticipated future cooperation related to our pandemic practices. A special thanks goes out to those whose suggestions helped us craft this statement. We look forward to working with all of you as we seek to create a safe and welcoming community during these challenging times.