Commissioners, advisory delegates, and staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are learning this week that Covid has not gone away. Leaders of the 225th General Assembly learned Wednesday morning that a handful of commissioners and one staff member have tested positive. At this point, only mild symptoms are reported among the group, but they were not able to attend their final committee meetings in person.

“What we’ve seen in the past few days is a stark reminder that Covid is still among us, and we must take necessary precautions, even when we are not participating in official GA activity,” said Julia Henderson, leader for GA Planning and Business in the Office of the General Assembly. “We knew to expect some people would arrive with Covid and others would leave with Covid and our Covid mitigation strategy was put in place with this in mind. We just ask that all participants be cautious, even when not in meetings or the Presbyterian Center.”

The first group of committees is departing with a new set of commissioners and advisory delegates beginning their three days of meetings on Thursday. Henderson says at this point, she believes current protocols will be sufficient. PC(USA) leaders have been monitoring trends with the Omicron variant and consulting regularly with health experts to map out appropriate precautions.

The precautions in place for the meeting of the General Assembly parallel steps taken at the Presbyterian Center since the pandemic began.

“We have been vigilant in monitoring the progress of Covid through reliable public health sources as we have instituted protocols to keep everyone at 100 Witherspoon as safe and healthy as possible. Our colleagues who come into the building must provide proof of vaccination status,” said Kathy Lueckert, president of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), A Corporation, the principal corporate entity of the General Assembly. “We have restricted the presence of visitors to the building and designed ways to limit interactions with delivery persons. We have instituted practices of physical distancing for our colleagues who come to the building. A mask mandate has been in place for nearly all of the 2.5 years of Covid. This effort has been undertaken in an attitude of prayer and a spirit of collaboration among the agencies and entities based in 100 Witherspoon.”

On Tuesday, the Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace, Co-Moderator of the 225th General Assembly, reported that she had tested positive but was not exhibiting symptoms. She is currently at home and reports that she is doing fine.

For more information on GA participant protocols, visit the GA225 website.