The Session realizes there are many of us ready to return to in-person meetings and to do so as safely as possible. We have reviewed our safety protocols in light of current local case numbers and the recent lifting of the Sumner County mask mandate. We are thankful to God to see increasing availability of vaccines, a diminishment of local and statewide COVID-related illnesses and hospitalizations and facets of everyday life beginning to return to normalcy. As our Session looks at returning to in-person group meetings such as Bible Studies, Connection Groups and book clubs, we will be using these guidelines as presented by the CDC to help make decisions as to when, how and where meetings may resume. Each group will be responsible for initiating a return to in-person group meetings when members feel comfortable.
CDC recommendations for gatherings (approved by Session)
As we look forward to restarting Connection groups and Bible study groups, we thought it would be helpful to review the latest CDC recommendations for gatherings.
· Small groups of fully vaccinated people can gather indoors without masks or social distancing. People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or 2 weeks after their one shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
o Example: Everyone in your connection group is fully vaccinated. CDC recommendations say you can meet inside someone’s home and even share a meal around the table. No masks or distancing required.
· Fully vaccinated people can visit unvaccinated people from one household without masks or social distancing IF the unvaccinated people are a low risk for infection (older adults, pregnant women, and those with chronic health conditions are at high risk).
o Example: Everyone in your Bible study group is vaccinated except one healthy younger person. CDC recommendations say you can meet inside someone’s home and even share a meal around the table. No masks or distancing required.
o Example: Everyone in your Bible study group is vaccinated except one member with chronic health problems. It is recommended to wear masks and socially distance during the Bible study to protect that member. Consider meeting outside to reduce the risk to the unvaccinated group member.
· If fully vaccinated people are visiting with unvaccinated people from different households, everyone should wear a mask and continue social distancing.
o Example: Your small group has 4 families, and the adults have been vaccinated but the children are too young. It is recommended to wear masks and socially distance. Consider meeting outside to reduce the risk to the unvaccinated group members.
· Outside gatherings are safer.
· Shorter gatherings are safer than longer ones.
Why all the caution even after people have been vaccinated? We still don’t know yet if the vaccine completely prevents asymptomatic spread of the coronavirus, and we still don’t know yet how long the protection lasts after vaccination. These guidelines are intended to protect those who haven’t been vaccinated.
When, where, and how you meet is ultimately the decision of your small group but we encourage you to make your decisions based upon the above guidelines. We also encourage you to have open conversations filled with grace with your members regarding what they need to feel safe while meeting. The church is available as a meeting space with the expectation to follow all the CDC guidelines.