Plan for Phased Re-opening of UUFA

At its November meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously passed a plan for gradual reopening of the facilities at UUFA for meetings and worship. Several Board members worked with the Medical Advisory Panel (MAP)* during the Fall to create this plan, adapted from CDC criteria. The Medical Advisory Panel concurs with this plan, having had much input into its formation.

Five phases make up this plan.  Click here to view the chart.

UUFA continues currently in Phase One. Moving forward or backward from phase to phase is based primarily on two public health criteria:

1. the average number of cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents of Clarke County over the last 14 days; and
2. the percentage of positive tests in Clarke County over the last 14 days.

This information can be found each week at the ACC government website. (To sign up for the weekly reports, go to accgov.com, click on the Notify Me button on the left, and sign up to receive the CoronavirusCOVID-19 updates.) Those data will be used by the MAP and the Board whose responsibility it is to determine if changing phases is necessary and prudent. Should those data be at different levels, we will check GA DPH’s Region E hospital data, which includes Clarke County hospitals, to determine whether the phase will shift. An additional use of the Region E Hospital Bed Data will be made if area hospitals become so close to being overwhelmed that the MAP feels that we need to go to a previous phase, or close altogether.

The Board and the MAP want all members and friends of UUFA to be aware of three things:

1. If you choose to participate in events at UUFA, we cannot ensure your safety.
2. The metrics we used to create these phases are subject to change per public health guidelines.
3. The availability of a vaccine will not eliminate the phases; they will continue to be based upon the criteria above. What we are hoping is that the movement between phases will be hastened by the introduction of a vaccine.

As we all know, this pandemic, along with the advice given to contain it, is constantly changing. The members of the Board working on this will monitor the data and contact the MAP whenever significant changes occur. We will only move forward to another phase when reports have been consistently pointing toward that for at least two, perhaps more, reporting periods.  We may, however, have to move back to a previous phase more quickly, due to the combination of the Clarke County data and the Region E hospital data, noted above.

You will notice that the two basic criteria for each phase are found in the two rows at the top of the chart. How those numbers impact what goes on at UUFA is found in the four rows underneath the criteria. You will notice that the maximum number of folks at outside events in Phase One now matches the maximum number of folks in the sanctuary for creating worship services, 15.

Board members and the MAP will now begin the process of creating guidelines for participation in events at UUFA for Phases 2-5. Please remember that anyone leading an event at UUFA must submit paperwork prior to the event so that it can be on a calendar of on-campus events. The information about having an event at UUFA now can be found at:

 https://www.uuathensga.org/blog/2020/09/17/uufa-opening-phase-one-meeting-outdoors-parking-lots-or-patios/

We have already had an occasion where two different groups wanted the same space at the same time, which creates an unsafe environment.  Also, the contact tracing information is very important in case we need it quickly.

The Board realizes that many of you will be very disappointed to read that the building will, for the most part, remain closed for a while. We are following CDC guidelines as well as that of the UUA. Most UU congregations in Georgia and elsewhere are not meeting at their buildings at all, not even creating worship services there. Our primary focus is keeping as many people physically safe as possible, and we certainly don’t want our building to become the site of a “super-spreader event.”

When you do come to the building, please wear a mask over your nose and mouth, stay at least 6 feet apart (more is better), and sign in so that we know how to contact you just in case.

Please remember that the Fellowship staff and volunteers have created many virtual events for you to be able to stay connected to folks here. We know, we certainly know, that being virtual is not the same as being physically present here, but we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent about this disease as the number of cases, even within our area, climbs again, in Clarke County rising from 217 cases per hundred thousand to 238 in the last week. The Board and the MAP, are using rational, scientific data and reasoning to help this Fellowship keep its folks healthy and able to return when it is safe to do so.

* The Medical Advisory Panel is made up of volunteers Alice Harris, Amy Roark, David Jarrett and Elizabeth Smith.

Vivian Preston Sellers and Susan Curtis, November 14, 2020