Reopening Task Force Report

From Nick Lewis on behalf of the Board of Trustees

I am fortunate enough to serve as the Board liaison to the Reopening Task Force, a group whose role is to try to determine when it might be possible for UUCM to physically reopen, in some form or other. I have been incredibly impressed by the talent on this Task Force and how soberly they are approaching this difficult issue.

I suspect that you all know where we are on this question. Everyone would love to get back in the building and enjoy the Sunday service and see everyone again. It just cannot happen in the immediate future and, frankly, with the possibility of a second wave of the pandemic this fall and winter, we wonder whether we can safely meet again until next spring. The key word in that last sentence is “safely” and it is the prime concern of the Task Force.

Since there isn’t anything really new to tell you about the date of reopening, I thought you might be interested in some things I learned during Task Force meetings:

  • Ultraviolet light in the ducts can help remove COVID-19 pathogens from the air as it recirculates. We actually have ultraviolet fixtures in some ducts to deal with mold (who knew?), but they would need to be upgraded to work on COVID-19 droplets.
  • Masks work pretty well in preventing virus transmission, but unless they are really tight, droplets sneak out the sides when you sneeze or cough. And some let droplets right through with a really big cough.
  • As you might guess, some of the rooms at UUCM have better airflow than others and, therefore, might be opened earlier when we are able to open the building. The possibility of outdoor meetings was considered, but there are a variety of side issues, like bathroom use, that makes it problematic.
  • Live singing is going to be one of the final things to return because the act of singing is especially good at spraying COVID-19 droplets about. Brainstorming on this issue has been interesting, but the potential solutions are all impractical.
  • The streaming of services and meetings will continue into the future, even after we finally reopen. With a Board approved budget of almost $40K, our Sanctuary and some of our rooms are being outfitted so that even when we return to in-person gatherings we can continue to serve those who cannot (for whatever reason) gather in our space.  

Stay safe and if it all starts to get to you, remember that we have your backs. Please send us an email if you have any questions.