Centering Safety for Our Children, Youth and Adults
The Governor recently announced that K-12 public schools in Washington state must begin offering both onsite and online options for all students in April. Some parents may wonder if this means we will begin offering religious education programming in person anytime soon. We will not.
UUC’s staff are committed to centering ethics, good science, and care for the most vulnerable in making decisions about providing indoor, in person programming. UUC will continue offering virtual programming for religious education until it truly feels safe and ethical to meet in person.
Religious education programming at Unitarian Universalist congregations is very different than public school. For example, our religious education programs rely on adult volunteers rather than paid teachers, and we are a multigenerational community of people with different levels of risk and access to vaccination. We are not under the same pressure to reopen as a public school.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) offers robust recommendations for congregations on meeting in person when Covid-19 subsides. These recommendations are more stringent than the recommendations for schools and businesses. This is for the following reasons:
- As a community that values inclusion and collective care, we don’t want to create in-person situations that inadvertently exclude those at higher risk, or create situations that force those at higher risk to publicly identify themselves. Our decision-making must center the needs of the most vulnerable.
- The membership of most UU congregations is an older, more vulnerable population than the general public.
- We do not want congregational staff and ministers to be put at risk on the job.
- A normally-operating congregation presents too many opportunities to spread a highly contagious respiratory virus like COVID-19.
We make decisions about reopening in light of our Unitarian Universalist values of recognizing our interdependence, and caring for all people, which takes into consideration everyone’s health and vaccination status.
UUC staff do look forward to exploring opportunities for masked, outdoor, socially distanced gatherings on the UUC campus in the months to come.
Melody Moberg, Director of Religious Education
Aria Curtis, Elementary Program Coordinator