As you know, COVID-19 is in Johnson County. We went from zero cases Sunday morning to 3 Sunday evening, to 12 confirmed as of today in Johnson County, and I’m sure that number will continue to grow. The university has suspended in-person classes effective after spring break; all classes will be taught via streaming. We are aware of several churches who have cancelled activities, and expect more will follow suit. Our understanding is that COVID-19 is contagious prior to any symptoms, so there is no way of knowing who has been exposed.
Agudas Achim has many vulnerable members, and we want to be proactive in protecting our community and doing our part to minimize the spread of this disease.
After much consideration and discussion, the board has made the very difficult decision to temporarily close the synagogue to physical presence. This requires a number of adaptations.
- The rabbi will live-stream services either via Zoom, Facebook Live, or a similar platform. Emails will be sent out with information on how to access these services. Halacha will be relaxed, as long as there are at least 10 people on the livestream Mourners Kaddish will be said.
- Committee and Board meetings will be held via Zoom rather than in person. We have successfully held several Zoom meetings over the past several days and we will continue to host Zoom meetings as long as necessary.
- Sunday school and Hebrew school will be suspended for the rest of the semester (there is only about a month of classes left, and a large percentage of the teachers are university students who will most likely not be available).
- Should Adult Ed programs be scheduled, they will be live-streamed.
- Basically all in-person synagogue programs would either be held via zoom or cancelled until further notice.
- The office will be physically closed. Contact with the office will only be via email or phone. Karen and John will have the option of working from home, although they will spend some time in the building, as there will not be a contagion risk if no one else is present.
- To avoid hardship for our employees, the wages of all who are affected by this closure will be continued until the building is open again.
- The rabbi will be available pastorally via phone, email, and zoom, and will look into ways to mitigate loss of contact and increased isolation, possibly creating a phone tree or other methods of checking on people.
This policy will be reviewed weekly by myself and the rabbi , and in conjunction with the board and the safety committee, will determine when it is safe to resume normal operations. Hopefully this will be short-term.
Please feel free to reach out to either of us with your questions, concerns, and needs. We will do our best to assist you however we can.