Dear People of Immanuel,
The Building Reopen Team has made some recent updates to share with you. Risks and balance are what we continue to weigh as we navigate the pandemic, and what is expected isn’t exactly clear – The CDC has updated guidelines and metrics, shifting focus to how much disease is acceptable. Local governments and schools are lifting mask mandates, although many individual locations still require masks. Workplaces that have been remote are in various stages of bringing people back to the office, some workers welcome that and some workers dread it. – The best we can do is contemplate risks and look for balance.
We each have our own individual risk calculations to make and, as a community, we strive to lift each other up as we navigate the next season. As the Building Reopen Team, we strive to be as clear as possible about the recommendations we make for Immanuel.
Some of the things we know:
- COVID numbers are improving, but COVID continues to impact our community.
- Ramsey County is currently in the High risk level and decreasing (we use metrics from org).
- Hospital systems in Minnesota are slightly less strained, both in terms of the number of COVID patients requiring hospitalization and a shortage of staff
- New variants are still developing.
- The future of COVID remains unknown and difficult to predict.
- Outside is safer than inside, and the weather is turning warmer!
- Effective strategies for gathering indoors with people include:
- Vaccinations (including third doses/ boosters for those who qualify)
- Mask wearing
- Staying home if you don’t feel well, and getting tested if you experience any symptoms of illness, especially fever, cough, shortness of breath, congestion or loss of taste/smell This is true for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
- Vaccinations are safe and effective against severe illness, and vaccination is now available for ages 5 and up. We should remember that while vaccines are the very best layer of protection we have, people who are vaccinated can still become sick and potentially spread the virus.
The Building Reopen Team has added another step in the phased building reopen plan and we are cautiously moving into that next step. We are watching the current situation, however, and we are prepared to take a step back if the situation requires more restrictions.
The next step (Phase 3, Step E), beginning 3/13/22:
- New! No capacity limits for worship or gatherings
- Masks are required in worship, both in the Sanctuary and in the overflow room
- Masks are required in Faith Formation
- Masks are required when singing
- New! Masks are recommended (but not required) in other areas and activities in the building outside of worship
- An overflow room for worship with distancing cues and masking requirement will continue to be offered
- Some pews will be roped off in the sanctuary during worship for those who prefer more space
- Streaming worship will continue to be offered
- New! Coffee and light refreshments are allowed after worship in the Gathering Area, but will be hosted outside whenever weather permits
- Funerals and weddings will operate with the same parameters as worship
- New! Outside groups will not have capacity limits
- Masks are recommended, but not required, unless using the Sanctuary or Fellowship Hall
We often start Lent with snowy days and end the season with glimpses of green grass, but even the weather is uncertain and unpredictable. Nevertheless, it is an intentional time of contemplation and growth as we lean toward the promises, hope and resurrection of Easter. This time in the pandemic may also be uncertain and unpredictable, but we are strengthened by this community that holds onto the hope of the next season.
Deb Ahlquist, Dale Fierke, Harvey Jaeger, Carl Johnson, Maria Reed, Pastor Cindy Bullock
Building Reopen Team