Covid-19 Updates

Covid-19 Updates

NSS Beth El Reopening Plan

On June 26, 2020, Lake County entered Phase Four of Governor Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan.  The health and safety of our congregants, visitors, guests and staff remain Beth El’s top priority. Therefore, Beth El will follow all guidelines set forward by the CDC, State of Illinois and our own Medical Task Force. 

The Phase Four plan allows for gatherings of up to 50 people, with certain exemptions for up to 100 people in places of worship.   Out of an abundance of safety, Beth El’s Medical Task Force has recommended that we generally limit our indoor and outdoor gatherings to less than 50 people.  We reserve to right to further enhance our procedures to ensure the safety of everyone who enters our doors.

Until Phase Five of the Governor’s Plan is in place, all worship services will continue to be broadcast on Zoom or be available as a livestream for an in-person service, which will follow the guidelines outlined in this plan.   Remote services remain the only way to guarantee that Beth El will not become the source of new infections.

The following procedures will be applicable to all synagogue gatherings, including rentals and those sponsored by our affiliate organizations.

Procedures for Attending Programs, Worship or Life Cycle Events

  • Outdoor programming and services will always be preferred (weather permitting) to indoor services.
  • At the discretion of Beth El’s leadership, limited In-person programs, services or lifecycle events may be permitted inside with no more than 50 people.
  • Everyone attending must wear a mask from the time they leave their cars in the parking lot, during the entire event or service, until they return to their cars. Masks with air valves are not permitted.   Face shields are permitted, but only in addition to an approved mask.
  • Those participating in a religious service should bring their own tallit, kippah and tefillin.  Disposable kippot and loan tallitot will be available on request for guests.   Loaner tallitot will be disinfected after each use, and be rotated out weekly.
  • Prayer books will be available to use and will be rotated out of circulation for one week following each service. Prayer books should not be shared.
  • Participants attending programs or services held inside the building will adhere to the following stringent entrance and safety procedures:
    • All participants must preregister for each program or service they wish to attend and be listed on our registration sheet at the entrance of the building. Walk-ins will not be able to enter the building.
    • While waiting to enter the building, participants must socially distance a minimum of 6 feet from one another.
    • All participants must review health screening questions posted in the building entryways and will be asked to verify their good health by volunteers or security personnel before entering the building. Screening may include the taking of temperatures using a touchless thermometer.
      • Anyone with any of the following symptoms (cough, cold, sneezing, temperature above 100.4F, etc.) will not be permitted in the building.
    • Designated entrances will be clearly marked, and doors will be left open so that no one need touch door handles.
    • Those traveling to Chicago from a designated “Hot Spot” city or state, must self-quarantine for 14 days before attending a service or program at Beth El.
    • Upon entering the building, all participants will be required to use provided hand sanitizer.
    • Participants should go immediately to their assigned seats and avoid gathering while in the building.
  • While in the building, physical distancing of at least 6 feet must be observed at all times.
  • Restrooms are located throughout the building, including inside the CLC, across from the Sager Family Beit Hamidrash and on all three floors of the Zell South Wing. Participants should consider using another restroom, if already occupied by more than three people.
  • Restrooms will be equipped with sufficient hand soap and hand sanitizer. We ask that all participants and staff wash their hands frequently with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Seating will be assigned based upon the pre-registration. Seating within the Field Family Sanctuary will be clearly marked to ensure proper spacing of congregants. Chairs in the Paset and Blumberg Social Hall will be spaced out and grouped by family.
  • When participating in a religious service or lifecycle event, participants must sit at least 6 feet apart. Families living in the same household may choose to sit together, and do not have to spaced six feet apart.
  • We ask that participants of worship services refrain from singing in full-voice. Whispering, praying softly and humming are acceptable.
  • Food and beverages will not be served inside the building during Phase Four of the Governor’s plan. Water dispensers with disposable cups are available throughout the building.  Napkins will be provided to touch the buttons on the water dispenser.
  • Person to person greetings such as handshakes and hugs that break physical distancing requirements are discouraged.
  • Children should remain in the care of those in their household, and not be allowed to interact with other children.
  • Congregants, visitors and guests will be required to adhere to all posted signage.
  • A member of the clergy or program leader will dismiss participants in a slow ordered fashion by section, to ensure that everyone can exit safely. Socialization after a service or program is discouraged while inside the building.   Socialization is permitted outside of the building using proper social distancing and while wearing masks.  

Cleaning and Disinfecting Protocols

  • Restrooms will be cleaned and sanitized every hour, including restroom door handles, toilets, handwashing facilities etc.
  • Beth El’s maintenance staff will perform a thorough daily cleaning and disinfecting of all high traffic areas such as lobbies, hallways, meeting rooms, offices, libraries, stairways, handrails, and elevator controls. Commonly used surfaces including doorknobs and seating areas will be cleaned before and after programs and services

Safety Protocols for Bimah Participants

  • It is preferred that each participant use their own assigned microphone. Microphones will be disinfected between uses.
  • Plexiglass screens will be installed in front of each clergy podium and readers table.
  • All Bimah participants should be seated at least 6-feet apart on the Bimah or sit in the congregation until their time to participate.
  • While participating on the Bimah, everyone must keep a safe 6-foot distance from one other.
  • There will be no Torah Processional or Recessional.
  • Those handling the Torah should wear gloves.
  • Only one person will be assigned as the Ark opener, unless a couple who lives together are assigned.
  • During the Torah Service, there will be no more than one person at the Ark at a time.
  • The Torah Yad will be disposable or sanitized between uses. Torah readers may bring their own Yad.
  • Singing while on the Bimah is prohibited, except for the Hazzan. If the Hazzan is singing towards the Ark, no one should be seated opposite from him/her.
  • Only one person at a time will stand at the Reader’s Table and all participants at the Torah will follow the designated protocol that will be explained by the Ritual staff.

Please note that while Beth El does its best to clean and sanitize the building, there are no guarantees that you will be protected from the spread of the Covid-19 Virus.  While Beth El does not prohibit anyone from participating in an indoor or outdoor program or service at Beth El, we do encourage everyone to read the guidelines put out by the CDC regarding age and preexisting conditions.   Beth El will do its best to minimize the risk to others.  Individuals must minimize the risk to themselves.