And the Survey Says….By Scott Konrad, member of the vestry
Amid news of new COVID variants and a projected winter spike in new cases, the just-concluded congregational COVID safety survey couldn’t have been better timed. Its results are illuminating and valuable for St. John’s parish leadership as we strive to ensure public health safety while worshipping and continuing congregational life in a ‘New Normal.’

Going By the NumbersWe drew 93 responses, 87 (93%) of which were fully complete. Six responses were incomplete, with respondents skipping one or more questions in the survey, which took an average of 1m29s to complete. Of the complete responses, 36% were tendered on behalf of an entire household, not just the individual respondent.
We learned that:

  • 79% of respondents are “mostly comfortable” (29%) or “very comfortable” (49%) with our current health safety precautions. 7 persons (8% of the total) reported being “indifferent.”
  • The 13% of respondents who said they were “mostly uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” were about evenly split in their suggested corrective measures – with some preferring to abandon masking for the vaccinated, while others suggested greater social distancing front-to-back (i.e., with alternating pews).
  • 78% of respondents favor continued masking for live worship, while only 54% favor doing so for smaller-scale informal gatherings in our buildings.
  • Remarkably, 100% of respondents reported being fully vaccinated, including 84% who’ve been ‘boosted.’ [Although this survey question required an answer, six persons skipped it, suggesting they may have exited the survey rather than to respond.]
  • 20% of respondents reported that they or a household family member are immuno-compromised.

What Does It Mean for Us? The statistics are heartening in suggesting that St. John’s is a comparatively safe environment, given our reported immunization rate coupled with masking for live worship services as our single largest gatherings. In this context, we can probably infer that church is safer than many retail establishments and other places of public assembly in Connecticut, where neither masking nor proof of vaccination is currently required.Hopefully, this will encourage more of our communicants to rejoin the congregation in the pews.

While masking for live worship is here to stay for the foreseeable future or until a material change in guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), we’ll reconsider its necessity for smaller gatherings where social distancing can be more easily maintained. We’ll also reexamine church seating configurations to ensure adequate distancing as a complement to masking. The shift to three worship services on Christmas Eve will relieve density while accommodating personal scheduling preferences.

Recognizing that no institutional policy will delight all persons, we’re approaching our public health safety measures with a mindset to achieve the greatest good for the greatest number – and in the spirit that “we, who are many, are one body, for we all share one bread, one cup.” Thanks to all who responded to our survey so candidly.