The COVID Task Force consists of Rev. Paul Beckel; Board members, Murray Bennett and Bharti Kirchner; Deb Cruz, Kathy Wahto, Lisa Moss and Ken Gass. Jim Reimer has been invited as a technical resource. Initially, we met weekly, and now we convene on an as-needed basis. Highlights of our activities are given below.
Improving the indoor air quality:
What we know at present is that coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets expelled when a person talks, sings, coughs, sneezes or shouts in an indoor environment. Bigger droplets fall to the ground, but smaller droplets can hang in the air for hours. Wearing a mask and social-distancing help but are not the entire solution. We are considering how to upgrade our ventilation system to aid in removing the droplets.
Measures that we may need to adopt are the following (although not limited to them): opening windows — if appropriate and weather permitting; increasing ventilation with outside air; and installing an effective filtration system. Led by Jim Reimer, this is perhaps the most critical of our tasks. Our progress has been hampered by the unavailability of expert HVAC consultants. It appears that most schools, offices, and commercial buildings in our town are also in need of such resources. Hence, there is a shortage of engineering advice and installation service, resulting in long delays.
We’re considering redoing the ventilation in the older parts of the building, especially the sanctuary, as well as the newer areas such as the social hall and classrooms. Potential problem spots include the bathrooms, which have low ceilings and are enclosed spaces. The coat closet falls in this category. The elevator has been checked and its status has proven to be satisfactory. We’re examining entry and exit protocols for safety.
We don’t have a time frame when we might be able to reopen. Any attempt at reopening will initially be partial, with limited attendance. Only gradually and with much care and control will we be able to safely resume full in-person gatherings. Our Sunday Zoom service has proven to be popular and we’ll continue to offer it in foreseeable future. In the meantime, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated. For more information on reopening, click on this UUA piece:
Please watch this space for further COVID updates.