Written by Susan Diemont-Conwell, Chair, St. James Reopening Task Force
A vaccine is on the way! After months of worry, this news gives us hope. But what does this news mean for St. James? When can we get back to normal?
The practical reality is that it’s going to be some months before a significant portion of our population has been vaccinated—possibly into the summer. And the scientific reality is that engaging in indoor activities remains among the riskiest of behaviors when it comes to this virus.
While the State of Washington allows us to resume certain church and building activities, it doesn’t mean we should, especially given our demographics and this winter’s surge in cases. In addition to not wanting to lose a single person at St. James to COVID-19, we also do not want to add to the burden on medical providers and our local hospital.
Masks, reducing the number of people in a room and social distancing do help reduce the risk of exposure from the virus, but these mitigation measures do not eliminate risk. Until the vaccine is widely in use, no guideline or procedure we can implement at St. James is 100% foolproof in eliminating your risk of exposure while in the church building at St. James.
So what does that mean for getting back to “normal”? It means that, given the winter surge, we go slowly. And it means that we give grace to Session members, staff and committee chairs, who have been charged with implementing our reopening guidelines and making decisions regarding when to continue certain church and building activities. The decisions they make can mean the difference between life and death. Though we desperately want to get back to some semblance of normal, we want to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect the people of St. James—even if that means waiting a little.