We’ve received some good COVID policies we hope will be useful to you as you think about your own policies.

COVID Guidelines for the RC Philadelphia Region Community (draft)
July 2023
(downloadable PDF)

Some points to consider:
1)    Our COVID guidelines are a draft, as we will update these guidelines as the clinical data and CDC guidelines evolve over time.
2)    We form these guidelines by taking into consideration: protecting people who are more vulnerable to infection, protecting our relationships with each other, and honoring the commitment of the international RC community to ensuring safety in every setting.
3)    As these are DRAFT guidelines that contemplate the best clinical data available today, we must continue to keep thinking with our unlimited and intelligent minds, and discharging and amending as we get new information.  Please discharge on COVID, your relationships with your co-counselors, and your feelings about the RC community and the Philadelphia Regions’ COVID guidelines.
4)    We know that some people are doing well with online sessions, workshops, and webinars, and some people would much prefer these activities in person.  Especially for young people, who were not already having two-way sessions before the pandemic, doing RC activities is more difficult and less connected, and some young people have not wanted to participate as often.
5)    Our DRAFT guidelines cannot ensure a 0% transmission rate of COVID.
6)    If you have had a positive test, or close contact with someone with a positive test in the last 7 days, and you have had in-person contact with a member of the RC community during those 7 days, please let them know.
New Proposal:
*We will continue to hold regional workshops for adults online.
*We may try having some pods of co-counselors (smaller groups) be in person
during workshops.
*We will continue to have family workshops online or in person.
*We can continue to hold classes online and do sessions online or by phone.
*Co-counselors may consider doing in-person classes and/or sessions.
Rationale:  Following some practices that are beginning to happen in the larger RC world, we are hoping to add connection, and contradiction to distress, by allowing people in our region to consider gathering in person.  COVID is still here causing illness, death, and long COVID, but vaccinations and improved treatments, as well as our better understanding about how to reduce the risks have made it possible for us to resume some of our usual in person activities.  Connecting with other human beings in person, in and out of RC, make a huge difference to our physical and mental well-being.
Guidelines for planning in person RC activities: 
All members of the group (class, session) must agree on COVID safety precautions that each member will follow.  People will need to consider such things as vaccination status, masking, recent exposures to illness, daily COVID testing, and/or risk factors for the person and the family members in their household. The precautions you take should be based on the needs of the person with the greatest risk factor.
For outdoor in person activities:
* Everyone is asymptomatic
*No one has been knowingly exposed to COVID in the last 7 days
* If someone has tested positive for COVID within the last 10 days, they may join an RC event if: 1) It has been more than 5 days since the onset of their symptoms (or 5 days since their first positive test), 2) They have since tested negative on a rapid antigen test, 3) Their symptoms are resolving, and 4) They stay masked for the entire event.
*If someone has had an illness and is feeling well but has lingering symptoms, that person could come if: they test negative for COVID, wear a mask, and keep some distance from other people.
Rationale: Some people can have a cough or other lingering respiratory symptoms after an illness (especially if they have a chronic condition such as asthma), but they are no longer infectious.
For indoor, in person activities:
* Everyone is asymptomatic
*No one has been knowingly exposed to COVID in the last 7 days
*Use mitigation strategies such as opening windows and doors, turning on fans, and using HEPA air filters
*If someone has tested positive for COVID within the last 10 days, they may join an RC event if: 1) It has been more than 5 days since the onset of their symptoms (or 5 days since their first positive test), 2) They have since tested negative twice, on rapid antigen tests taken 24 hours apart, 3) Their symptoms have completely resolved, and 4) They stay masked for the entire event.
*We are strongly encouraging daily testing because if all members of the class or group test negative on a particular day, you could decide not to wear a mask that day. This is because the science is telling us that a negative test indicates that the viral load is not enough to infect another person.  There are false negatives, of course, and also the chance that someone tests negative in the morning but could become infectious later in the day.  Everyone in the pod must decide that the risk of getting COVID (or another illness) from a co-counselor is worth it in order to get the benefits of being in person together.
Next Steps: 
1.    Think and discharge about what your needs, wants, and potential restimulations might be around meeting co-counselors in person.  Discharge points to consider: on feeling exhausted with COVID and “being careful,” on feelings of rigid compliance or rigid rebellion, on considering the “common good” and your own well-being, and any feelings of fear or denial as relates to COVID.
2.    Talk with your co-counselors about what they feel comfortable doing, make a proposal, and discharge on it.  
3.    Most everyone who can be vaccinated in this community is vaccinated, and most are also boosted.  It would be preferable that your vaccination status be shared with all of your co-counselors, so that each person can make their own determination of comfort with the planned environment and potential risk to COVID transmission.
4.    RC teachers and leaders, please consult with your ARP about what you want to try regarding in-person classes or support groups.  Individual RCers, please consult with your RC teachers about what you want to try regarding in-person sessions.   
5.    Michael and Jessica would like to hear from all RC leaders about what you are trying in your classes and support groups and how it is going.
*The bivalent vaccine that offers protection against the Omicron variant, as well as the original COVID strain, is now available to people ages 6 months and older.   Check the CDC website link below for information about the type of booster you can get, as well as the timing of the booster, and talk with your doctor, as well.
In case of an exposure:  
If you have a positive test within the 7 days following a RC gathering, or if you find out after a RC gathering that you had a close contact with someone who tested positive, you should inform those that you were with at that setting.
*Please reach out to Jessica with any questions or thoughts!

Draft Policy Regarding In-Person Contact During the COVID Pandemic For Co-Counselors in the Washington, DC Region

January 14, 2022

The Coronavirus pandemic became a known global threat in March 2020. Since then, variants of the virus have continued to spread, causing illness, hospitalizations, and deaths locally and throughout the world. At present, there is no well-founded prediction of when the pandemic will subside.

While the pandemic is global, the impact differs in each geographic location. On January 14, 2022, The New York Times’ COVID tracker reported that at least 1 in 6 residents of the District have been infected and at least 1 in 567 people have died. The same day, reported 121,871 cases since the start of the pandemic. (In July 2021, the US Census Bureau estimated DC’s population at 670,050.)

The pandemic has thrown into relief disparities in health status, health care, resource distribution, and other issues of economic, racial and social inequality throughout the world. Some of those disparities are mirrored in DC, with the highest numbers of infections and deaths in Anacostia, where People of African Heritage make up 90 percent of the community. The second largest number of reported deaths city-wide have been among people of Latinx Heritage. The lowest numbers have been reported in the wealthier and predominantly white wards from Foggy Bottom to Tenleytown. As we focus on COVID, we need to discharge, learn, think, and act on the issues of oppression and liberation connected to the pandemic.

The map*** (see link and instructions below) gives a broad overview of the distribution of cases in DC (as of 1/14/22). Go to this interactive map for information about your specific neighborhood by clicking on “data overview” and then “neighborhood”.

There is a rational human need for physical contact. Much as we are fortunate to be able to connect via phone and video, these means do not provide the same level of contradiction as being together in person. However, we know that COVID is contracted and transmitted through aerosol droplets expelled from our mucous membranes through talking, yawning, nose blowing, all of which occur during in-person sessions.

We function in RC not as individuals but as a community. It is helpful to have policies to guide decisions and behaviors that impact all of us. Policies can provide a basis for rational reasoning in areas where we may be vulnerable to acting on our feelings, or temporarily unable to come to consensus. The goal of the following policies is to provide guidance for discharge and for thoughtful interaction with one another.

The policies for meeting in person will be in place until at least June 2022. As with all RC policies, they are draft policies as we gain more insight and information over time. We will revisit them in late Spring and the community will discharge and think at that time whether and how they might need to be changed and/or extended until a later date.

We will discharge on our pandemic experiences and the early material restimulated by the pandemic. Discharge and sharing can take place in individual sessions, support and discharge groups, classes, and other RC gatherings. Leaders are encouraged to create these opportunities regularly during the pandemic.

No classes, support groups, workshops or other RC group gatherings will meet in person until at least June 2022.

Although individual co-counseling pairs will make their own decision about in-person sessions (see 4 below), teachers and support group leaders will assist people to discharge, think, and discuss the topic beforehand. With this assistance, each co-counselor can, with transparency, consider and consult about their plans before deciding. Teachers will discuss and consult with their ARPs on issues of concern that arise in these meetings. ARPs will bring any unresolved concerns to the RRP.

Individual co-counseling pairs will make their own unique decision about whether or not to have in-person sessions and under what circumstances.

In order to arrive at a decision, individuals are encouraged to:

* discharge with their co-counselor and with others about the decision.

* discuss with their co-counselor, as fully as possible, all relevant considerations**.

* seek referencing from leaders and others who can think well about them.

Pairs who decide to meet in person will agree upon protocols for the session (e.g., testing, masking, social distancing, outdoors versus indoors, etc.).

This agreement should be re-stated and agreed to afresh before each in-person session.

Counseling pairs are encouraged to periodically reassess the content of their agreements, using discharge and discussion, to decide if they make sense as circumstances change.

No one should be pressured to have an in-person session or to follow a protocol that does not make sense to them. If a co-counselor is unclear about whether or not to meet in person or what protocols to follow, the pair should not meet in person. They can meet virtually or return to steps 3 and 4.

Counselors are encouraged to stay updated about scientific information and guidance provided by the CDC, DC Government, the WHO, and other reputable sources.

*Information in this paragraph is from COVID-19 deaths are racially disproportionate. But the disparities have been in D.C. all along (3/19/21 in The Georgetown Voice).

**Some examples of relevant considerations include:
● The vaccination, booster status, and level of exposure of: 

○  Each counselor in the co-counseling pair

○  Others with whom each counselor is in regular contact, such as members of the household or co-workers

○  Others with whom each counselor might be in contact prior to the session

●  Any health vulnerabilities of the counselor and the counselor’s household

●  Quality of air flow/ventilation in a potential meeting location

●  The number of other co-counselors each counselor has in-person sessions with and how inadvertent exposure by one pair might impact another pair

●  Risk situations, such as recent travel, working conditions, regular travel by public transit, etc. 

***Here is the link to the map referred to above. You have to click on "COVID-19 Data Overview" and then "Ward". 

Proposed Draft Policy Regarding In-Person Contact for RC Co-Counselors in the Vermont / New Hampshire Region, USA

August 2021

Current Situation

Our human need to have in-person contact with others has been challenged by the restrictions of good public health policy in response to the world-wide Covid pandemic. While monumental strides have been made (e.g.: In Vermont, over 84% of all eligible people have had at least one vaccination shot), mutations of the virus continue to create new complications that have egregious health issues including the ability to be together.

This Draft Policy

At this time, a year and a half into the pandemic, this draft policy is being proposed for which in-person RC activities are possible in our region. This draft policy is based on the need for each of us to make an informed, individual decision for what is safe for us, and the people around us. Each of us needs to stay updated about scientific-based medical information and guidance provided by reputable sources. This could include the WHO, CDC and state health departments.

We need to use the skills of RC by discharging on what comes up for us with these pandemic experiences and the early material that it brings up. And to keep discharging on our early experiences of other people telling us what to do.

The Draft Policy on In-Person RC Activities:

A: Vaccination Status

Only those RCers who have completed their Covid vaccinations can participate in any in-person RC activity. Those who are not vaccinated, including for medical reasons, are to use other forms of communication, such as telephones and Zoom calls, to participate in RC activities.

B: In-Person 2-way Sessions

For those of us who are fully vaccinated, and wanting to have in-person sessions, both counselors will discuss and agree on how this session is to be done (e.g., mask wearing, social distancing, outdoors versus indoors, touch/handholding). Both counselors need to fully discuss any relevant considerations and they are expected to share with each other the following information:

-The vaccination status of the each counselor and of their household;

-Medical information about vulnerabilities either counselor may have;

-Whether either counselor is in regular unmasked contact with unvaccinated or other vulnerable people.

-The number of other co-counselors each counselor is having in-person sessions with.

-Any other risk situations.

C: Meeting Outside as a way to have a RC activity

Currently, there is reputable medical information that the risk of Covid virus transmission is highly unlikely when people are outside and keeping a social distance. If this low risk way to meet continues to hold, RC groups can meet outside while keeping a social distance. This way of gathering might be useful on occasion for some RC activities. However, it’s a problematic way to schedule and meet because of the limited certainty as far as weather conditions including temperature, precipitation and other issues. To help keep fresh that social distancing needs to be maintained, meeting outside is not to be a regular way of meeting for classes and not to be used for workshops. In addition, co-counselors are to follow public health transportation guidelines in traveling to and from these events, including not being in the same car unless they live together.

Until a new draft policy is agreed on, there will be no other in-person activities.

For the Vermont/New Hampshire region, 

Guy Wood

Monterey Bay Region, CA, USA (August 2021)

As you may know, we have now conducted two Think-And-Listen events for community members to think together about the implications of the Covid situation for our local community. They were useful, and along with additional input from Nancy and Tim Jackins, have helped prepare me to share these thoughts with you.

As has been the case all along with this pandemic, there is lots of uncertainty about what the risks really are from day to day in various situations. What a good chance to discharge and learn to handle a complex, ever-shifting situation! There will be many more of these. 

We do know that the trend of falling cases in the U.S. that was so exciting until a month ago has reversed. And we know that the Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants of the virus, and that that is the probable #1 reason for the upturn in infection rates we are seeing.

We know that Santa Cruz County is better off than many places in the country, with relatively low infection rates (partly because we have a high vaccination rate). We know that the most effective way to stop the pandemic is for people to get vaccinated, and we know that the vaccinations have a very good safety record (not perfect, like any vaccination). We also know that about 97 percent of hospitalized coronavirus patients nationwide have not been vaccinated.

Relevant to co-counseling activities, we know that being physically close to people for extended periods, especially if they are shouting, crying, laughing, etc., is a relatively high-risk activity. The risk is much higher indoors. And now we know that the Delta variant is infecting many vaccinated people, and although they probably won't get seriously ill, they may transmit Covid to others--for example, children under 12, who are all unvaccinated.

What is the conclusion to all this for our co-counseling activities? There are 3 main things to know:

  1. There will be no in-person RC workshops anywhere for the rest of this year (Tim's decision).
  2. In our Region, we will continue to avoid all in-person group meetings until further notice.
    (These two decisions are both intended to avoid the exponentially greater potential of spreading Covid when we meet in groups.) And,
  3. In-person sessions are a possibility for each pair of counselors to decide on with discharge and careful thinking. Please read on for more about this choice.

It is, of course, fine to choose not to meet in person, and many of us will continue to make that choice. We have learned that we can have excellent sessions with Zoom, Skype, phone, etc.

If two counselors are thinking about meeting in person, they should ask each other about the other contacts in their lives. Do they spend time in close contact with many people? Are those people vaccinated? What are they doing to try to avoid becoming infected? (Some of us have had experience asking questions like this in the past relating to sexually transmitted diseases like HIV. If that includes you, you are already warmed up for the current situation!)

Personally, I am not going to have any more indoor sessions until conditions become safer. (I had a couple before Delta became such a present threat.) For now, I will continue to have a few outdoor sessions in person with vaccinated counselors only, sitting at some distance with feet touching. I plan to ask more questions of these in-person counselors about how they are keeping safe in their lives. If someone is having a lot of exposure, I will back off from in-person sessions with them.

Some of us have patterns of obsessively learning about every development with the pandemic, and some of us have patterns of avoiding learning about it. I think we all need to stay informed, and discharge any patterns that push us one way or the other. I suggest reading reliable news about the pandemic at least once a week, since conditions and information develop so quickly. I recommend the New York Times coverage, which is informed by many infectious disease experts. Here is a link: The Covid-19 Pandemic - The New York Times 

I am happy to talk and session with any community member who wants to think about this further. You know how to reach me.

With much love,

Michael Levy
ARP, Santa Cruz RC Community
Santa Cruz, CA USA

Last modified: 2023-08-09 22:27:37+00