COVID-19 Protocols

In-Person Gatherings

Updated: 09/13/2022

The leadership of Bet Ha’am is committed to the health and safety of our congregants, clergy, staff, and visitors. Our current COVID-19 protocols follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and the policies established by the Governor’s Office and Maine Department of Public Health. This section explains our current policies and mitigation efforts. Please review it carefully and contact the Bet Ha’am office if you have questions. This section may be updated frequently and without notice.

Message from Rabbi Saks

In Jewish tradition, the role of community is central. We are referred to as Am Yisrael, the Jewish people, not as Dat Yisrael, the Jewish religion. Synagogues and Jewish communities are referred to in Hebrew as Kehilah Kedoshah, holy community. And in the Talmud (Shevuot 39a) we read, Kol Yisrael arevim zeh ba-zeh, all Jews are responsible for one another. This rabbinic principle is the basis of the notion of communal responsibility in Jewish law. If one Jew sees another Jew at the verge of sinning, they have an obligation to step in and help. Even more so, it implies an obligation on all Jews to ensure that other Jews have their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter met. Simply by virtue of being part of a Jewish community, one is responsible for the well-being of all other members of that community, and vice versa.

With this principle in mind we approach the work of operating our building during the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with Jewish tradition, each person considering in-person participation at Congregation Bet Ha’am must consider not only the risk posed to themselves, but also the risk to which they expose others who also choose to be present. In order for our community to be able to gather in person, we will rely upon the full honesty of each member of our community in self-screening. Consider not only your own desire to be in person, but what it means for you to be part of a holy community, to bear responsibility for the well-being of others. Each time you consider coming to Bet Ha’am for in-person programming, ask yourself, “Have I engaged in any behavior that will put others at risk?” This is what it means to be a holy community and to be responsible for one another.

In-Person Gatherings

Religious School

Religious School classes meet in-person with an option to participate via Zoom.

Religious School COVID-19 Policy (effective August 24, 2022)

For the 2022-2023 school year, Bet Ha’am’s COVID-19 Policy is as follows:

  • COVID-19 vaccination is not required as a condition of enrollment.
  • Masking is optional for vaccinated children.
  • Masking is required for unvaccinated children.

In an effort to make our Religious School program accessible to all, vaccination is no longer required as a condition of enrollment.  Masking will be optional for those students who are vaccinated and unvaccinated students will be required to mask while indoors. 

FAQs

Will I need to provide documentation of my child’s COVID-19 vaccination status?

If you’d like your child to remain unmasked during religious school, you must provide documentation of your child’s COVID-19 vaccination status.

I provided documentation of my child’s COVID-19 vaccination status last year.  Do I need to provide it again?  

No.  If you’ve provided documentation of your child’s vaccination status during the 2021-2022 school year, you do not need to provide it again.

How do I provide documentation of my child’s COVID-19 vaccination status?

You may submit documentation of your child’s vaccination status to Sam Spinrad via email at sam@bethaam.org.  If you’d prefer to show documentation in person, you may bring your child’s vaccination record to the office Tuesday to Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

My child is unvaccinated.  How does this affect our religious school experience?

We welcome all students, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. If your child is unvaccinated, masking will be required indoors.  Sam Spinrad will inform your child’s teacher to help ensure mask compliance.  Children will be told that their parents need them to mask for them to attend religious school in person.

My child has mild cold symptoms.  Is it ok to send them to religious school?

If your child has cold symptoms, please administer a rapid COVID-19 test on Sunday morning.  If the result is negative and your child has been fever-free for 24 hours, your child may attend school, but must wear a mask.

What protocols do you have in place to help mitigate exposure risk?

All classrooms are equipped with a HEPA air filtration device that has been sized for the room.  Classrooms are regularly cleaned and sanitized.  Hand sanitizer is available in all classrooms.

What happens if Bet Ha’am’s COVID-19 policy changes during the school year? 

As we continue to learn and adapt to new guidance and best practices, policy may change based on CDC recommendations and community transmissions.  We value the engagement and interaction with our students and families and will ensure timely communication of any changes that might affect your child’s religious school experience.

What is the COVID-19 protocol for Family Shabbat Worship Services?

Masking is required at Family Shabbat Worship Services, regardless of vaccination status.

Indoor Worship

At this time, our weekly Shabbat Worship Services are offered in-person with an option to join us via Zoom.  COVID-19 vaccination is encouraged for all who are eligible, but not required to attend in-person services.

Bet Ha’am follows the CDC Community Level Guidelines for non-religious school programs and services.  Masking is optional as long as our community level is green or yellow.  Maps, charts, and data provided by CDC are updated every Thursday by 8 pm ET.  For questions related to current community levels, please contact the Bet Ha’am office.

General Safety Precautions

We are taking the following steps to protect everyone’s health and safety:

  • Masks and hand sanitizer will be available.
  • Physical distancing will be encouraged at all times except for members of the same household.
  • HVAC filters in the new building have been upgraded to MERV-13, the standard recommended by CDC guidelines and HVAC professionals.

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