Wear your masks at BRUU

Who needs to wear masks @ BRUU?
All of us!
As you know, there is a common denominator among the vaccinated and the unvaccinated.
Each can carry COVID.
So, here’s the scoop – entering and leaving the building, and while walking through the halls, wear your mask. Once you reach your meeting or event destination, as a group, you may decide whether or not masks stay on.

Masks will be required when we return to in-person service this fall. More details to come.

Who’s There?

Speaking of entering the building…Virginia Department of Labor and Industry guidelines have not changed. Which means, by law, we are required to track who is coming to BRUU.
How the heck do we do that?
By using the QR code that is posted at every entrance.
What the heck is a QR code and how the heck do I use it?
So glad you asked! Cue the Hruska’s:

Together Again
While we continue to work to bring services back to the sanctuary and welcome back the BRUU community, it won’t be the same as before…we will continue to follow guidelines and metrics to protect our youngest, our vulnerable and our unvaccinated congregants.

Until further notice, we are holding church services virtually.

Sunday morning services are held on zoom (link in weekly email) and streamed live on our BRUU Facebook, Sundays at 10am.

Some other groups are meeting in-person

Children and Youth RE is in-person in the church building, see RE page for details.
ALE – some courses are meeting in-person in the church building, register for details from the course leader
Social Groups – refer to the group leader on status for next meeting
Memorial services are in-person at the church building, see your invitation for details. Some may be additionally offered on zoom.

Reopening News:

The Board and the Reopening Task Force Committee are hard at work determining the actions and timing to re-open our building and hold in-person services.

End of Life Services: A Board Update

— released July 9,2021

The Board met on 7/7/2021 and amended the current limitations for use of the BRUU building for end of life services as follows.

The following applies to end of life services.

  1. There is no occupancy limit. This replaces the limit of 50 people maximum.
  2. Masks will be required for entry to BRUU, and access to services held in the sanctuary and in the Fellowship Hall, should it be required for overflow attendance.
  3. Audio visual support and hybrid service are only available for BRUU member memorial services.
  4. The Fellowship Hall will be available should the family request it.

The Board meeting on 7/15 will outline reopening plans related to occupancy limits, masks, and return to in-person services.

Reopening Status: A Report from the Board

— released June 17, 2021

The BRUU Board of Directors met Thursday, June 17, and discussed where we are in terms of reopening the building to in-person meetings. We started with the facts and our UU principles and we ended up with changes in how the building is to be used starting now.

But First, the Bottom Line
The Board decided as follows:

  • Continue to further develop the AVION project. In the meantime, explore interim AV system that Tony Main recently used for a multi-platform event in BRUU sanctuary. We’d like to have dry runs in July, limited congregation sizes in August, and full return in September.
  • Urge all BRUUers who are eligible to be vaccinated to get the vaccination.
  • Encourage those who are not fully vaccinated to continue to wear masks.
  • Allow groups of up to 50 individuals to meet indoors at BRUU or at BRUU-sponsored events, as long as they are vaccinated. This includes renters, such as a yoga studio or small party. The organizer can decide whether to require masks of participants. This takes effect immediately.
  • Put off a decision on allowing renters with more than 50 guests until the new Board takes office in July.
  • This means moving the food pantry storage out of Fellowship Hall. We will need a plan to accomplish that, and the Board is meeting with Laura Crowne to flesh that plan out.

Background Facts
There were 13,491 new cases of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in the U.S. as of June 16. As of that date, there had been almost 33,500,000 total cases identified in the U.S. and 409 deaths from covid-19 bringing the total U.S. dead to more than 600,000. 312 million vaccine doses have been administered, including over a million on June 16. Many other metrics are trending in the right direction.

The Board has already okayed outdoor gatherings, and the annual picnic was a fabulous success.

The Reopening Task Force’s annual report set several metrics for reopening. They were:

  • Greater than 60% vaccination in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. This has been met in Maryland, but not DC or Virginia, although both are close.
  • Covid ActNow metrics across the DMV are at the lowest level of risk. This has not been met.
  • Number of new cases confirmed daily is at or below 1 new case per 100,000 people a day. This has not been met.
  • Number of infections by each infected person is less than 0.88 additional persons. This has been met for all three jurisdictions (DC, Maryland and Virginia).
  • COVID-19 testing is widespread enough to identify new cases and test positivity is 3 percent or less. This has been met for all three jurisdictions.
  • One metric involved contact tracers, but those have never been put into place.
  • Hospitals have capacity to treat a surge of COVID hospitalizations, with less than 50 percent of available ICU beds in use by COVID patients. Virginia and Maryland are in good shape with this metric, with DC lagging.
  • The metrics need to be met for Manassas, Manassas Park, Prince William County, Fairfax County, Fauquier County, Warren County, Loudoun County, Fairfax City, the District of Columbia, Montgomery, Arlington, and Alexandria City for a month. We are not there yet.

Several coronavirus variants have been identified, and a new vaccine was found in tests to be effective against the original coronavirus but less effective against the variants. There is a distinct possibility that the variants of coronavirus will spread and cause another increase in infections and deaths. If that happens, we may be forced to shut down again both at church and in the larger society.

Many private and government buildings remain under coronavirus restrictions, including masks and physical distancing. Some private buildings allow entry to self-identified vaccinated people without masks.

Many people remain unable to get the vaccine. Some are under the minimum age, others have health issues that prevent vaccination.

We want to be inclusive.
We want to protect the health of our members, friends, and visitors and their families, as well as the broader public.
We want to be together when we can, consistent with public health.
We want to respect the rights of adults to make decisions about their own health risks.

I don’t care much about what everybody else is doing. BRUU is actually ahead of many UU congregations, but not as open as some non-UU congregations. In a quick survey I did of UU churches in the Central East Region, only 1 of 10 is open now, and it has 51 members. We need to make a decision that is right for BRUU. In making that decision, we need to recognize that we will not please everyone, that we may have to reverse course, and that we will never be sure we have made the right decision.

We are not yet at the point where resuming in-person worship is advisable, based on the Reopening Task Force’s metrics. We also do not have the level of tech equipment in place that would make dual platform worship successful at this point. The AVION project (big thanks to Tony Main and Brock Hudson) has looked at scoping and getting proposals for audiovisual equipment to allow that to happen. Based on the Board’s discussion Thursday with Ralph Giffen representing the Endowment Committee, we are not ready to sign a contract to upgrade our audiovisual equipment.

Respectfully submitted,
Martin Crim, President (until June 30)

Picnic June 12 and Other Progress!

— released May 12, 2021

Thank you to the Reopening Task Force and to all who participated in our survey about resuming in-person activities as the COVID pandemic situation appears to improve due to higher vaccination rates.

Key results of the survey were:

  • People indicated by wide margins (84% and 85%) that they expected to be vaccinated and to wear a mask to participate in in-person activities at BRUU.
  • 57% indicated a desire to have everyone who participates in in-person activities at BRUU to be vaccinated.
  • Only 30% endorsed temperature checks at the door.
  • Sunday services and RE for children and youth were the top priorities for restarting.
  • Two-thirds did not think the BRUU Board should adopt Covid safety policies regulating or limiting BRUU-affiliated in-person activities which are not held at BRUU.

We’ve also heard your voices – through the survey and through other channels – that it’s time for us to start having some events that allow us to get together in person, and the Board shares that eagerness and anticipation. Along those lines, we’re happy to tell you that a BRUU family has offered to host the BRUU Picnic outdoors at their place on June 12. You’ll hear more on that through a special BRUU Blast.

Based on the survey responses and the expert help from the Reopening Task Force, the Board reached consensus on the following message:

  • We are working hard toward reopening our building. The primary factors preventing it right now are the lead time for new audiovisual equipment and ventilation. The new audiovisual equipment is necessary for multi-platform programming (in-person and online), and we are in the process of getting quotations for the necessary equipment. Then, the equipment will have to be installed and we will have to learn how to use it. The new ventilation measures are underway, with filters being installed in our heating and air condition systems, and room air filters (basically box fans with high-quality filters) in certain rooms in the design phase.
  • We will have options for worship. We want everyone to be part of the community. We expect to have a system to register for attendance, to ensure we can maintain physical distancing by limiting capacity. The date for this is not yet set, due to the need for audiovisual and ventilation equipment mentioned above. We will not check your temperature at the door, but as always, if you are feeling ill please participate remotely.
  • We do anticipate that the religious education program for children and youth will be back in the building for the fall semester. Contact Kristin Worthington at dre@bruu.org if interested in the details.
  • Committee meetings can resume once the ventilation upgrades are in place.

Things are changing rapidly. – just last week, Governor Northam indicated that he anticipates lifting all the COVID restrictions on capacity by June 15. Masks will likely be a part of our future for a long time, however. Our own capacity may depend on meeting the CDC’s guidelines for air handling.

We want you to protect your own health and the health of your family, community, and the health care workers who take care of those who fall ill. Protecting ourselves and each other is a commitment we all need to make to live out our mission and covenant. For those reasons, if you are eligible for a vaccine you should get it.

While we do want and expect everyone who is participating in in-person activities at the BRUU building to be vaccinated, we are operating on the honor system. If you or a member of your family is immune-compromised, please take into consideration that we will not be verifying people’s vaccination status. We will be enforcing the mask requirement within the BRUU building until further notice.

Meanwhile, outdoor events and small group events outside BRUU are good to go already. Of course, we encourage hosts and participants to exercise care and to observe all of the federal, state, and local COVID risk management guidelines as you get together. And as I mentioned above, and during Sunday’s worship service, thanks to the Sundas we have a picnic scheduled! How exciting is that?!

Please be excellent to yourself and to one another. We welcome your feedback, knowing that no possible policy will please everyone. As we move forward, there will be additional decisions to be made, so it’s important that BRUU’s leadership continue to hear from you.

—————- past reports ————

Reopening Task Force Committee Report

— released April 2021
Throughout the pandemic, BRUU has remained open for full-time staff, two 12-step programs and the food pantries. Recently, we welcomed back our music studio renters.

With guidance from the governor (who uses the same metrics BRUU does) and buoyed by the increased number of vaccinated, at the April 15, 2021, Board meeting, the Board approved the following, with observance of the most current COVID protocols:

    1. Authorized official BRUU outdoor activities.
    2. Following installation of already purchased toilet seat covers, authorizing in-person BRUU committee meetings* with the caveat that all meetings offer multi-platform options (live and virtual) for those who wish. All meetings must be booked in advance with Tina.
    3. The Board authorize the purchase and installation of MAC suggested ventilation improvements. And, further, recommend purchase and installation of:
      – portable air cleaners with MERV13, or higher, filters;
      – humidifiers for the winter months;
      – and authorized a thorough cleaning of the building’s HVAC system.
    4. The Board approved the Worship team to work with the Food Pantries to determine when the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall will be available.
    5. Following completion of the above, staff and worship volunteers (Worship Associates, AV team, etc.) will begin broadcasting from the sanctuary.
    6. The Reopening Task Force will measure the space in the sanctuary to determine occupancy, following 6’ distancing guidelines.
    7. An individual will be designated and a day of the week assigned to check current government (Commonwealth and CDC) science-based guidelines for safe gatherings and use those guidelines to demine the safety of in-person service.
    8. Once the above is completed, the Board approved beginning multi-platform Sunday Services.

Individuals entering the building must follow all COVID protocols, including wearing masks**, and sign in using BRUU’s QR code for contact tracing***. 12-step programs and the music studios are responsible for maintaining their own attendance records.

*Each group meeting in the building is responsible for cleaning tables, door handles and light switches before they leave.

** Enforcement responsibility for this policy is given to event sponsors/hosts, Board members, and paid and volunteer staff. Depending on their best judgment of the circumstances, the person enforcing this policy may provide a warning, direct the offending person to leave the premises or event, or involve other people to remove the offending person (including law enforcement if there is a threat of violence).

***The QR code satisfies a Virginia Department of Labor and Industry requirement and is critical for contact tracing.

The Board created the BRUU Reopening Task Force to provide recommendations for a safe and ordered process of resuming activities curtailed by the Covid-19 pandemic when it is prudent to do so. As more people have been vaccinated and infections have trended downwards (although we’re by no means out of the woods yet), now is a good time to assess congregational perceptions on what our priorities should be in taking the next steps forward. We ask you to take a few minutes to share your thoughts on this process. The information we gather will be shared in RoundUp in aggregated form, and your contributions will be kept anonymous unless you indicate that you want to be contacted. The link for the survey is available in your newsletter and a recent email blast. The survey closes April 30, 2021.