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COVID-19 VACCINATION POLICY & RATIONALE
December 2021
 

Vaccine Policy
Require all eligible individuals who enter The Community Synagogue (TCS) to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 unless they have a documented medical disqualification. “Vaccination” in this policy refers to vaccination against COVID-19.

When will the vaccine policy become effective?

● January 1, 2022 — Ages 13 and older
● July 1, 2022 — Ages 5 - 12

What is the rationale for requiring the COVID-19 vaccine?
Throughout the nearly two years of the pandemic, the COVID-19 Task Force has strived to make decisions that are both informed by the science available at the time, and in the best interest of our religious community. Our Jewish tradition regards the practice of medicine as a mitzvah, a religious obligation. The preservation of human life, pikuach nefesh, takes precedence over all other Jewish ethical obligations.
After living a year with vaccines available, we have learned that vaccines are saving lives and preventing serious illness from COVID-19 infection. The protection of people depends not only on their own immunization, but on the immunization of others in the community and we believe that as part of our kehillah kedosha, our sacred community, it is our collective responsibility to ensure each other’s wellness and safety.

Who will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19?
● Staff — all eligible staff are already fully vaccinated per TCS existing policy.
● Students — 5 year old’s will have 3 months from their 5th birthday to comply beginning on July 1, 2022. Religous School students must show proof of vaccination upon registration for the 2022/23 year.
● Congregants
● Vendors, delivery persons, workmen, guests of congregants and all other visitors

What will be accepted as proof of vaccination?
Excelsior Pass, Excelsior Pass Plus, Clear Health Pass, SMART Health Cards issued outside of NY State, full-course vaccination through NYC COVID Safe app, a CDC Vaccination Card, or other official immunization records.

What does it mean to be `fully-vaccinated’?
The CDC presently defines `fully-vaccinated’ as:
—  2 weeks have passed since the person’s second dose in a two-dose series (Pfizer and Moderna)
—  2 weeks have passed since the person received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson).
The CDC recommends a second dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine 2 months after the 1st dose.

Will we be requiring booster shots?
As of now we are not requiring proof of a 3rd dose booster shot however the CDC is recommending booster shots for those 16+ who are fully vaccinated. TCS will follow CDC guidelines and monitor best practice regarding mandating booster shots.

If someone is not vaccinated and provides a documented medical exemption will they be required to provide a negative COVID test in order to enter the building?
Yes. Any test with a documented lab result will be accepted. The negative test must be within 48 hrs of entry.

Can someone who chooses not to get vaccinated (without a medical exemption) enter the building with a negative COVID test?
No

How will individuals provide proof of vaccination and who is responsible for checking?
Daytime (9-6) — Visitors will show proof of vaccination to staff through the camera when being buzzed into the building.
Worship — Security guards will check those entering the building. B’nai Mitzvah families will be asked to sign a document acknowledging the TCS vaccination policy with affirmation that their guests will not be able to enter the building without proof of vaccination. Guests with medical exemptions will be able to submit proof of exemption to the office in advance of services.
Religious School — Proof of vaccination must be uploaded with registration for the 2022/23 year.
Evening Meetings — Responsibility of meeting leader/chair(s) to ensure that everyone is vaccinated. Board Members will provide proof of vaccination to the office to eliminate the need for repetitive checking.
Engagement Events (with no security guard) — Responsibility of event chair/organizer to ensure that everyone is vaccinated.
Private Events — Security guards will check those entering the building.
Hosts of private events will be asked to sign a document acknowledging the TCS vaccination policy with the affirmation that their guests will not be able to enter the facility if they don’t have proof of vaccination with them. Guests with medical exemptions will be able to submit proof of exemption to the office in advance of the event.

Will individuals without proof of vaccination not be able to enter the facility regardless of whether they are members or guests even for worship services?
Yes. If someone does not provide proof of vaccination they will not be allowed into the building.

Will an eligible student who is unvaccinated be able to attend Religious School?
A remote Specialized Education Plan can be put in place for any religious school student who chooses not to get vaccinated. There will be an added expense to this option. There will not be a general remote option offered to students.

If we are a `vaccinated-only’ organization will our mask policy change?
Not at this time.
Presently, TCS mask policy states that any person (age 2+) that is medically able to tolerate a face covering must wear a mask while inside regardless of vaccination status. Masks are only to be removed when eating or drinking or in private offices. A few situational exceptions were in place including allowing the clergy and B’nai Mitzvah students to remove their masks while speaking from the bima. The recent statewide mask mandate for public spaces that are not vaccine-only has led to masks, again, being worn on the bima.
With COVID-19 cases rising and the notable presence of breakthrough cases, we are not able to rely on vaccine status alone to ensure the safety and security of our community. The current mask policy will continue to remain in effect. The COVID-19 Task Force will continue to re-evaluate the mask policy to determine whether an optional mask policy may be appropriate in specific situations depending upon infection and case rates in our area. As a vaccine-only institution we would have the flexibility to modify our mask policy at the discretion of the Task Force.

Have other synagogues instituted vaccine mandates?
Many synagogues have already implemented vaccine mandates.
In November 2021, the Central Council for American Rabbis passed a resolution in support of vaccine mandates.

How will the vaccine policy be communicated to our congregation?
We will utilize all of our communication vehicles (ie. website, email blast, robo-call, signage) to make sure that our congregational family is aware of the requirement to have proof of vaccination in order to enter the building.
As providing proof of vaccination to enter public venues is increasingly becoming commonplace in New York it is our expectation that those in our community are already conditioned to having their vaccine proof either with them or on their phone.

Fri, January 28 2022 26 Sh'vat 5782