Second Update from the Reopening Task Force
As you may recall, the Reopening Task Force reported to you on May 20 that the Covid-19 monitoring data from the MA Department of Public Health (COVID-19 Response Reporting | Mass.gov) was looking very positive, and we are happy to say that it continues to improve, as does the vaccination data. As of June 2, 3,693,979 residents of MA (61%) had been fully vaccinated and an additional 503,619 (8%) had received a first dose meaning that we are very close to hitting Biden’s target of 70% of MA residents having received at least one dose of a vaccine. We also mentioned to you in May that the Governor, the MA Department of Public Health and the CDC were significantly rolling back the restrictions we’ve been living with for the past year, which led us to announce the gradual resumption of in-person worship. In this communication, we provide a little more detail about what those services will look like, as well as how we will go about re-opening ourselves to our church family as a well as to the outside groups who make use of our spaces.

CLICK THIS LINK to a table which summarizes the information below with more detail. We are very much looking forward to seeing many of you in person in the coming months! Please continue to check the listings in ‘Events at the Hills’ for notices about the upcoming services and events.
WORSHIP SERVICES

Sunday, June 20
We will celebrate a beginning, our first steps on the road to re-opening, and an ending, with Matt’s Release of Vows as we wish him well on the next step of his life’s journey. This service will be held outside, on the lawn of the Parsonage, so bring an umbrella if the weather looks iffy. It will be limited to 200 participants (please remember to sign up HERE). Masks will be optional, and the seating will be spaced out. The choir will be there along with brass and tympani, and the congregation will participate in the hymns and prayers.

Sundays, June 27 & July 4
These services will take place in the Sanctuary with a limited number of celebrants (only), but it will be live-streamed. Please note that when we replaced the HVAC system in the Sanctuary, we added UVC units which kill micro-organisms in the air, including viruses.

Sundays, July 11 & 18
These services will also take place in the Sanctuary and will include up to 50 celebrants and congregants (so plan to sign up HERE) who will be seated one group to a pew. For this service, everybody will be masked except for people who are reading or speaking. The congregation will be able to sing the hymns and recite the prayers while wearing masks. The principal reason for continuing masking and distancing is for the protection of our un-vaccinated members, especially children who have only relatively recently had access to the vaccine, as well as people who are immuno-suppressed. Two features of the service will be different over the summer: the collection plates will be placed near the doors (not passed), and the Passing of the Peace will be done using American Sign Language. There will also be a modified Community Hour (bottled water and juice boxes) after the service on the church lawn.

Sundays, July 25 through September 5
These services will be conducted in the same manner, but with up to 100 celebrants and congregants. The clergy are working on the details for Communion, which will be celebrated, in modified fashion, as a congregation on August 1 and September 5.

Sunday, September 12
By Rally Day, we anticipate that our services will return to their pre-Covid format with no restrictions on numbers, masking, distancing, etc., which we will celebrate with the traditional Ice Cream Social on the lawn after church, or in the Assembly Room if the weather is uncooperative.
WALLACE CHAPEL
The guidelines for services and other events in Wallace Chapel are similar to those applying to use of the Sanctuary. The main difference is the maximum numbers of celebrants plus congregants: 25 during the weeks of 7/11 and 7/18; 50 from 7/25 through 9/5; no restrictions as of 9/12.
 
CHURCH SCHOOL
It is expected that Church School will resume in the Fall much as it has in the past. Practices will be guided by the recommendations from the Commonwealth and local public school systems which are still being developed.
 
HILLS CHURCH GROUPS
As of Sunday, June 6, groups such as support boards, ministry teams, care teams, small group ministries, choir, bells, etc., may resume use of the building for meetings or other activities. The Task Force recommends that groups larger than 10 people use the largest rooms (Sanctuary, Chapel, Assembly Room, Reception Room, Board Room) to facilitate distancing between people of 3’, and that masks be used. The plan is to lift these restrictions as of 9/12. Note that groups that are meeting successfully by Zoom are welcome to continue doing so.
 
NON-CHURCH GROUPS
The same guidelines will also apply to outside non-church groups which use our facilities, like the Boy Scouts, the Heritage Chorale, New Beginnings, etc. Note that AA and the Food Pantry have continued to operate during the pandemic since they are considered to be essential services.
 
NURSERY SCHOOL IN THE HILLS
The Nursery School will continue to follow the MA Early Education Commission guidelines for the operation of a pre-school. 
The Re-opening Task Force

Rob Andrews, Mimi D’Angelo, John Finney, Anne Marie Holloway, Christopher Stowell, Judy Swahnberg, Sally Tomasetti, Matthew Wooster, Elaine Vildzius