Dear WJC Friends,
Last October, at my first state of the synagogue presentation, we examined a parallel between what happened to Noah thousands of years ago to our situation during the pandemic. Like Noah and his family, who lived through a disaster of biblical proportions, we also were beginning to leave our Covid “arks” and head towards the dry lands of in-person activities. It is seven months since that presentation, and I am very pleased with the progress we have made in reopening WJC and how we are growing closer as a community.
To that end, it is time that our policies and messaging are updated to reflect the times we are in. I am writing to let you know about changes in our COVID protocols. As always, we are committed to meeting the needs of our members while keeping our community safe.
We are making these changes based on input from our Covid Task Force and government guidelines. Based on current COVID-19 trends, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19, expired last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stopped tracking levels of Covid spreading in communities around the country. Of course, COVID has not gone away, but as a society, we are learning to live with its endemic impact.
During the pandemic, WJC required people age 5 and above to be fully vaccinated to attend congregational events indoors. This decision was made based on CDC guidance at the time, which communicated that vaccination prevented the transmission of COVID. While vaccination remains highly effective in preventing those with COVID from becoming severely ill, we now know that it has not shown to be as effective in reducing transmission of the dominant circulating variants of the virus. In addition, while our community continues to experience cases of COVID, today’s health impacts are usually milder with more effective treatments available. Therefore, WJC will no longer require COVID vaccination to participate in activities. However, we continue to strongly recommend staying up-to-date with vaccination and boosters for all those who are eligible.
Protocols for our schools are set forth in separate communications from our school administration. The ECC is guided by and operates in compliance with the directives of the New York State Office of Children’s and Family Services (OCFS).
Our mask-optional policy will remain unchanged, and we will continue to accommodate those who wish to be socially distanced during large events. Of course, those who wish to continue to wear masks should feel free to do so in any location throughout the building. WJC will begin to provide N-95-type masks at the lower entrance for those who wish them. Many of our programs and services will continue to remain accessible via Zoom or Livestream for those who remain uncomfortable gathering in person.
Our numerical risk level system (1-4) will continue to exist in the background, but will not be publicized. While we remain at level 1, signage and email notices will be removed. Should conditions change for the worse, we may reinstitute Covid communications. WJC will continue to abide by all protocols required by NYS and any other governmental entity, and our Covid Task Force will continue to review WJC’s protocols periodically to ensure the safety and health of our community.
While making these changes, we continue to ask our community to be sensitive and understanding towards those who take personal precautions to minimize their exposure to COVID. For all WJC services and activities, congregants are reminded to stay home if they do not feel well or are symptomatic.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions that you may have. Thanks again to the Covid Task Force and our professional team for all they do for WJC.