Reopening Temple Micah: Frequently Asked Questions

Last updated 10/01/2021.

We are thrilled to be re-opening the synagogue, including for Shabbat worship.

We will continue our slow and gradual approach—prioritizing the safety and well-being of our members, staff, and our broader community. The Micah office has re-opened on a part-time basis, Machon Micah begins classes in October, and we are beginning to host multi-access (in-person and virtual options) Shabbat services.

The FAQs below describe our COVID-policies and the steps we are taking to keep everyone safe and meaningfully engaged in Temple Micah services, education programs, and community events. These policies are driven by our belief that we are all responsible for each other. They also reflect that there are many young members of our community who are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination. We expect to review and update our policies as the research and conditions evolve.

Q: When will the Temple Micah building open?

We are beginning to host multi-access Shabbat services this fall, starting first with Saturday morning services. We also are opening Machon Micah in October. We anticipate gradually opening the building for Friday evening services and meetings through the end of the year and into next year. In addition, we are exploring options for hosting in-person events outdoors at Temple Micah.

Q: I really like to participate by Zoom. Will that continue for Shabbat services?

Temple Micah is committed to continuing to provide a robust offering of online services and other educational opportunities.

Our rabbis and staff spent an enormous amount of time and energy in developing Shabbat services using Zoom. As a result, they have provided an enriching spiritual experience, energized the congregation in new ways and brought about wide participation by geographically diverse members and non-members alike. We will build on this experience and the attendant technology as we resume in-person services.

We are exploring the best technologies and other issues to create the most “Micah-like” multi-access service experience. But just as the Zoom services took some time to fully develop and take advantage of the technology, so too will our multi-access services of the future.

Q: Is it possible to meet with one of the rabbis in the building for a consultation?

Yes, but on an appointment-only basis. As always, email is the best way to reach the rabbis and staff to arrange meetings. For the time being, in order to limit the number of persons in the building, there will be no drop-in visiting.

Q: Will vaccines be required to enter the building?

Yes. Everyone over twelve must be vaccinated to enter the building. We are asking members, staff, visitors, and guests to show proof of vaccination (copy or photo of vaccine card) the first time they enter Temple Micah. We will note vaccination status in our membership database, so members do not have to provide proof repeatedly, but we will not maintain copies of vaccination cards, and we will keep vaccination status confidential.

Q: Will masks be required?

Yes. Everyone over the age of two must wear a well-fitting mask both indoors and outdoors. A well-fitting mask should meet the following requirements:

  • has two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric OR is a surgical mask, KN95, or N95
  • completely covers nose and mouth
  • fits snugly, without gaps
  • has a nose wire
  • does not have an exhaustion valve or vent

Q: Are we limiting the number of people who can be at Temple Micah at the same time?

In order to help maintain physical distance, we will limit the number of people permitted to be in the building and will require pre-registration and appointments for events, including services and meetings. We also will be closing the building to anyone but students and staff when Machon Micah is in session.

For services, seats will be set in groupings for household units, with each grouping several feet from another grouping.

We will also make use of our outdoor space, whenever possible.

Q: What changes have been made in the temple to improve air quality and circulation?

Working closely with public health experts and having contracted with a leading environment health engineer, we learned that in most parts of the building, our current HVAC system meets or exceeds recommended air change rates (ACR) and that no modifications will need to be made to the HVAC system. Per their recommendation, we have added HEPA filters to the offices and the lobby to increase ventilation.

Q: What are the cleaning protocols in the building?

We are following CDC guidance and advice from our environment engineering report. Relying on that guidance, our cleaning schedule includes disinfection of the bathrooms and other “high-touch” common spaces.

Q: Will we still enjoy shared food for the oneg and kiddush?

We will move slowly in this area given that masks are needed indoors and until we are more confident of the science and best health practices. For now, we are not hosting oneg and Kiddush, and there will not be shared food. Individual snacks may be permitted outdoors.

Q: When should I stay home?

Anyone who is experiencing a COVID-19 symptom is advised to obtain a COVID-19 test and stay home while awaiting the results. In addition, anyone who has been notified of possible exposure and advised to quarantine should remain in quarantine until they have either obtained a negative COVID test that was taken 3-5 days following exposure, or 14 days from exposure has passed.  Likewise, we recommend that anyone who is unvaccinated and travels outside the DC-Maryland-Virginia area take the same precautions.

Q: What will happen if someone tests positive for COVID-19 after visiting Temple Micah?

We are asking that anyone who participated in a Temple Micah event and subsequently tests positive for COVID-19 report the diagnosis to a Temple Micah staff person or officer, and/or report it by email to covidreporting@templemicah.org. We will keep the person’s identity and details disclosed private, but we will notify others who were present of a positive case and encourage those in close contact with that person to be tested and quarantine according to DC guidelines.

Q: What type of guidance are we relying on to make these decisions?

We continue to rely on the expertise of medical and public health professionals; guidance from the CDC, WHO, and the DC health officials; environmental engineers; and temple leadership. Each decision we make will begin with the health and well-being of our members, staff, and visitors, and how each of our decisions enriches and sustains our community.