Individuals or groups meeting or visiting indoors on campus please continue to complete the below linked tracing form after visiting campus.  Best sanitary practices must be followed for their, as well as staff’s and other volunteers’, safety. Individuals and groups visiting our campus outdoors only need not fill out the form. Thank you for your continued help in keeping our community safe!

Campus Visit Form

October 22, 2021: Palm Beach County continues to be in the Orange Risk Category on Covid Act Now, the tracking service on which we have based our Pandemic Building Usage Parameters. The number of daily new cases has generally been going down in our area and in the country overall and the vaccines have continued to be quite effective at curtailing serious illness and death.

In response to discussions at committee meetings and a request form the Music Ministry, the Pandemic Building Usage Parameters Task Force recommended and the Board of Trustees approved the following changes to our parameters at the October 19, Board meeting:

NOTE:  All of these changes occur in the right hand column of our color risk chart–assuming that vaccines are generally effective at preventing severe illness and death.  No changes have been made in the left hand column, if we should weather a variant that does not respond to a currently available vaccine.

Music Ministry

In considering a proposal from the Music Ministry and consulting the latest guidance from the UUA and the Association of Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries, the Reopening Task Force suggested that the Music Ministry be allowed to perform together, including vocalists and wind-instruments, under the following specific conditions:

     RED V Music Ministry:  In Red conditions, when vaccines are judged generally effective by the CDC at preventing severe illness and death, the music ministry may meet privately and unmasked to rehearse or record music for worship.  (Without spectators.  They are also asked to not rehearse or record in the Sanctuary on Sundays.)  They may also play live, masked, instrumental music (no singing or wind instruments).

    ORANGE V Music Ministry:  In Orange conditions, when vaccines are judged generally effective by the CDC at preventing severe illness and death, the music ministry may do any of the options above and, additionally, may perform live with vocalists and wind instruments provided that the vocalists and wind instruments are using singing masks/covers that meet the criteria of the NFHS’s Performing Arts Aerosol Study and are located outside on the east breezeway of the Sanctuary with doors open to be heard.

     YELLOW V Music Ministry:  In Yellow conditions, when vaccines are judged generally effective by the CDC at preventing severe illness and death, the music ministry may do any of the options above and, additionally, may opt to sing/play wind instruments from the east breezeway *without* specialized singing masks and instrument covers.

     GREEN Music Ministry:  In Green conditions, the Music Ministry may choose any of the above options or opt to perform, live and unmasked, as in pre-pandemic conditions.

Social Hour Beverages

“Coffee and tea may be served and enjoyed outdoors during outdoor events or outdoors in conjunction with indoor events in Red, Orange, Yellow categories when vaccines are working, with hand sanitizer made available.”

Defining Emerson Building Spaces

“[Emerson Building] may be used by multiple groups at the same time divided by the separate HVAC systems areas.  Each group will be allowed the number of households in the current risk category.  Doors between the areas will remain closed.”

For example, if we are in RED conditions, which has an indoor cap of 10 households per space, we could have a group meeting in the RE (10 households limit) *and* a group meeting in Minister’s Hall (10 households limit) provided the groups remain separate indoors and the doors between the HVAC areas remain closed.

(see full parameters here – changes marked in blue)

Inclusion, compassion, and care for all are our guiding principles in this process. Please do not hesitate to contact the Task Force if you have questions or concerns. Please contact Kim if you want to schedule an activity under the current guidelines, knowing that you may need to be flexible with your plans if we should move back into a higher risk level.

October 9, 2021: Palm Beach County moved to the Orange (High Risk) level from the Red (Critical/Very High Risk) on Covid Act Now (the tracking forum on which our guidelines are based) on Saturday, October 9, for the second consecutive week, thus automatically moving 1stUUPB into that category of our Building Usage Parameters.

Activities on Campus During Orange Phase When Vaccines are Working (click on graphic to see the full Building Usage Parameters)

The Building Usage Parameters Task Force will be meeting Tuesday, October 19, at 12:30 PM using the Worship on Zoom link from the congregation’s main webpage. This is meeting is open all.

September 26, 2021: Palm Beach County moved from the Brick Red (Severe/Extreme Risk) level to the Red (Critical/Very High Risk) level on Covid Act Now (the tracking forum on which our guidelines are based) on Saturday, September 3, and the number of daily new cases came down again with the Florida Department of Health’s report the following week. The Task Force met September 11, and we noted that that was the second consecutive week that Palm Beach County’s Covid Act Now 7-day average was below 75 new daily cases per 100,000 people. The week ending September 10, showed 53.3 daily new cases per 100,000. Despite new daily case numbers beginning to decline, daily deaths were at an all time high for Florida, mostly unvaccinated individuals. Though we’re seeing a downward slope regarding deaths, daily deaths in Florida are still higher than any previous peak (334.3 – Sep 26 versus 184.9 – Aug 5, 2020), making the situation for unvaccinated people still extremely risky. We also know that vaccinated individuals can contract Covid-19 and transmit to others; both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

It’s been a long haul and we’ve been hearing frustration and desire for more in person activities, particularly services. The current guidelines do allow for some in person activities and can even allow for in person services for a limited number of people when in the Red phase and below. The Task Force recommended to the Board at the September 21, meeting, that we move into the Red (Critical/Very High Risk) phase of the Building Usage Parameters (the right column since vaccines are still proving to be very effective at keeping most individuals from having severe effects when they contract Covid-19), which the Board approved.

The Task Force also recommended a few clarifications, which the Board approved at the 9/21/21 meeting. The updated Building Usage Parameters can be found here (changes are bolded and in italics).

In keeping with the Board’s decision to have services continue virtually even when we return in person, a small group of individuals are working hard to learn to use the new AV equipment and others are involved in some upkeep/housekeeping issues before we can start services in the sanctuary. 

Please do not hesitate to contact the Task Force if you have questions or concerns. We will be hosting a breakout room on Zoom after services for the next couple of weeks to answer any questions. Please contact Kim if you want to schedule an activity under the current guidelines, knowing that you may need to be flexible with your plans if we should move back into a higher risk level. 

Inclusion, compassion, and care for all are our guiding principles in this process. 

Activities on Campus During Red Phase When Vaccines are Working

August 15, 2021: Brick Red (Severe/Extreme Risk) This brings us back into Phase 1, vaccines have been working: Indoor activities only Mission Critical, wearing masks, limited to 10 people. Outdoor activities, with masks, limited to 10 households.

Unfortunately, due to the continued rise in cases in our county, we have moved into the Brick Red category. On Saturday, August 14, the Covid Act Now risk level for Palm Beach County went up to Brick Red (Severe/Extreme Risk), following the weekly data release Friday from the Department of Health. Following the building usage parameters adopted by the Board, this means limiting the number of people together on campus to 10 people (indoors) or 10 households (outdoors). for mission critical activities. Please see the details of the plan here.

So far the data seems to show that the vaccines are mostly working as described: providing a very high level of protection from severe illness and death. However, it does not show, as hoped, that this would keep vaccinated people from getting and spreading the disease. It is becoming apparent that vaccinated individuals can contract the disease from and spread the disease to other vaccinated people as well as unvaccinated individuals. With this new information becoming available and many calling for going back to masking in all public places, the Task Force feels confident in our building usage parameters at this time.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the safety and accessibility of our spiritual community.

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July 26, 2021: Red (Very High/Critical) This bring us back to Phase 2, vaccines have been working: indoor and outdoor activities are allowed on campus. Masks are required for both indoor and outdoor activities. Indoor activities are limited to 10 households, outdoor activities are limited to 25 households.

As you are likely aware, the number of cases of Covid has been rising disturbingly around the country again recently. On Saturday, July 24, the Covid Act Now risk level for Palm Beach County went up to Red (Very High/Critical), following the weekly data release Friday from the Department of Health. Though this news is very discouraging, it does not preclude having services in the Sanctuary or other meetings on campus, but, following the building usage parameters adopted by the Board, it will mean limiting the number of people in attendance to 10 households. Please see the details of the plan here.

Your Board has committed to ensuring continued online service access after our return to in-person worship. There is still a small amount of programming to be done by the installers on the new AV system and then the task of learning to use it will begin in earnest. Many volunteers will need to be involved to make the complex process of moving to multiple platform services happen. Please let us know if you are interested in helping by learning to run the new AV equipment or in some other way. 

Thank you for your continued commitment to the safety and accessibility of our spiritual community. 

July 12, 2021: Orange Level (High Risk) As of 7/11/21 Palm Beach County is at the Orange (High) Risk level according to Covid Act Now. This bring us back to Phase 3, vaccines have been working: indoor and outdoor activities are allowed on campus. For indoor activities masks are required, limited to 25 households, with no food or beverage consumption.

Please contact the office if your group, committee, etc. would like to begin meeting in person again on campus.

Please see the graphic below for more detailed building usage parameters. Click graphic to view it as a Google Sheet.

May 30, 2021: Pandemic Building Usage Parameters voted by the Board of Trustees on May 27, 2021

The Board held a special meeting on Thursday, May 27, to discuss the Pandemic Building Usage Parameters that the reopening task force recommended. With a few changes, the Board approved the pandemic building use chart shown below. As always, the Task force and the Board kept in mind our core UU values of equity, compassion, and community. The Board realizes that this document may need to be reviewed and revised as new data becomes available and pandemic conditions in our county change.

The task force has studied and continues to study the research and information available and are working to find the best solutions for all. The Task Force used information from the CDC, Covid Act Now, and the UUA, among other sources as a basis for our recommendations. We know that many people have gotten vaccinated. We know that vaccines are not 100% effective at keeping people from getting and from passing the disease. There have been breakthrough illnesses, not many, but some. For individuals with auto-immune diseases, the vaccine may very likely be less effective. Children under 12 are not yet able to be vaccinated at all. Some other individuals may not be able to be vaccinated due to health conditions. Some people will choose not to be vaccinated. Experts are saying that we might not achieve herd immunity before a variant arises for which the vaccines are less effective. The risk for unvaccinated people is currently about the same as it was in January. 

Currently, in the Phase 4 of the plan, corresponding to Yellow, Medium Risk, on CovidActNow (click here or on blue button below to view the current situation for PBC), indoor and outdoor activities are allowed on campus. For indoor activities masks are required, with no food or beverage consumption. While opening the way for in-person events on our church campus, the Board decided that it was wise to continue to require masks indoors in this current phase, in order to protect those more vulnerable members and guests among us who are not able to be vaccinated.  An exception to this current indoor masking at Phase 4 has been made for the fully vaccinated music ministry group to gather unmasked to practice and record. 

Due to our strong commitment to remain inclusive, the Sunday Worship Services will not begin in the Sanctuary until it is possible for it to be available in-person as well as virtually. Many volunteers on the Sanctuary Services Committee are working hard to finalize and implement a plan to offer services simultaneously in-person and online with the new audio/visual system. This will have the added benefit of allowing our snowbirds to continue to join in over the summer.

Most of us have not been through a pandemic before. Bear with us, and regardless of the parameters, don’t attend any events you do not feel comfortable attending. Please also be aware that some among us are at higher risk or may not feel as secure.  In deciding if or when your groups will begin meeting in person, please work as much as possible by consensus. Let’s remember that we are a covenantal religion and keep our UU values of mutual care and concern for each other in our minds and hearts as we navigate these complicated waters.

Please contact the office if your group, committee, etc. would like to begin meeting in person again on campus. There are practical considerations that need to be put in place, such as the cleaning of the buildings, etc.

Covid Act Now PBC

Click graphic below to view it as a Google Sheet.

February 5, 2021: Update from 1/27/2021 Task Force Meeting

1stUUPB Reopening Task Force met again on January 27. We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation in Palm Beach County and in general. Although we would like to get back to services as normal as we know you all would, for many reasons we feel that it is not judicious yet to begin meeting in person. 1stUUPB will for the moment remain at the stage of “touchless” outdoor events and mission critical maintenance. Please fill in the quick Potential Online Contact Tracing form if you need to be on campus for mission critical activities indoors, or meeting with others. Please read the Guidelines for Outdoor Events if you are the coordinator of an event and also fill in the online form after the event. Individuals and individual families are welcome to visit our campus, outdoors only, and need not fill out the form. 

The UUA is updating its guidance regularly, and they did so on December 17, 2020 and again on January 29, 2021. They are still recommending ongoing virtual gatherings, “In the midst of uncertainty, the UUA stands by our spring 2020 recommendation that congregations plan for ongoing virtual gathering and operations. This applies to worship, events, rites of passage, and more.” Read the full guidance here.

The metrics we are tracking to make any reopening decisions are; daily new cases per 100,000 people, infection rate, test positivity rate, ICU headroom, ICU headroom, and vaccination rate as reported on Covid ActNow (covidactnow.org). Although we have not decided upon exact criteria for moving to the next stage of reopening, the rates in Palm Beach County are unfortunately still quite a bit above what many other congregations are using as a standard. 

StandardPalm Beach CountyAs of 2/3/2021 (graphic below)
DAILY NEW CASES (per 100,000)144.6
INFECTION RATE.88.93
TEST POSITIVITY3%11.6%
ICU HEADROOM< 50% of ICU beds in use by Covid patients76% ICU beds in use total

We are wary also, due to the new variants which have been found to be more easily transmitted and would like to allow a little more time to see the effects. 

We are hopeful about the vaccine! In Palm Beach County 9.3% of the population have already had their first shot (according to Covid ActNow) and in Florida 2% have been fully vaccinated (according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker). 

The UUA’s guidance explains: “As a community that values inclusion and collective care, we don’t want to create in-person situations that inadvertently exclude those at higher risk, or create situations that force those at higher risk to publicly identify themselves. Our decision-making must center the needs of the most vulnerable.” As you are probably already aware some very important upgrades are going on in the Sanctuary in the meantime. As we have already noticed with our services on-line, members and friends who are not physically in the area are still able to participate. In the same way, these technology upgrades to the sanctuary will allow some people to be physically in attendance and some attending virtually. Once the technology and decor upgrades are complete, there will be a transition time learning how to perform services as both in-person and virtual events. Initially perhaps only one or two people will be in the sanctuary and others participating on-line, and moving as able, to more in-person participation, while also keeping the ability for people to attend on-line. Please be patient and understanding, as this will be a big learning curve.

As always, if you have any questions you may reach out to any of the task force members: Linda Hartley, Rachel Melcher, Steve Pock, or Suzanne Schluter.

December 15, 2020: Update from 12/9/2020 Task Force Meeting

The Task Force is continuing to meet and work on preparing a plan.  Currently, however, the situation with the pandemic is getting worse rather than better. For this reason, the Task Force does not recommend approving any new types of events on campus now. There is a particular concern that this might give the impression that the situation is less risky than before, when it is not.

October 28, 2020

While we are not yet ready to open our campus to in-person meetings, we want to let you know that the Board has created a task force to research best practices and develop a multi-phase plan for reopening when it becomes safe. Currently the only activities on campus have been staff operations and pre-approved, mission critical tasks that require a very limited number of people being on site. These essential volunteers are following best practices for their, as well as staff’s, safety. 

At the October 2020 Board Meeting, two drive through events on campus were approved: a food drive which will be coordinated by Drew Davis and the annual Guest at Your Table collection event sponsored by RE. These events will involve very limited contact and best safety practices will be in place. More information to follow on these events. 

The task force plans to meet approximately monthly or more often if needed, and along with the Board, will continue to communicate with you often regarding the plans. In the interim, if you have any questions you may reach out to any of the task force members: Linda Hartley, Rachel Melcher, Steve Pock, or Suzanne Schluter.