Effective Oct. 18, 2021, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh will require all staff, and members and guests over the age of 12, to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter any its facilities. The new policy was unanimously approved by the organization’s board of directors last week.
The Oct. 18 timeline allows those who are currently unvaccinated to receive the required number of vaccine doses, and to have the additional two-week period to build immunity. Medical exemptions from adherence to the vaccination policy, as well as moral/religious exemptions, may be requested and are subject to approval.
Currently, more than 95% of the JCC’s employees are fully vaccinated, according to an Aug. 25 letter from the JCC to its members announcing the new policy. All new JCC employees must be vaccinated to secure employment with the JCC.
“We serve a diverse segment of our community from infants to older adults,” said Jason Kunzman, the JCC’s chief program officer, in a prepared statement. “Our responsibility is to help maintain and protect the health and wellness of all who walk through our doors.”
The JCC has relied on CDC guidance throughout the pandemic when making decisions regarding health and safety, and each phase of its reopening was “pressure tested” by the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative, according to JCC officials.
“The JCC has applied best practices throughout the entire pandemic,” said Dr. Elizabeth Miller, director of the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at UPMC Children’s Hospital, in a prepared statement. “The rigor of the JCC’s approach is well supported by the findings and recommendations of national and local health authorities. The JCC is to be commended in its steadfast approach to following the science and prioritizing public health. Care for our neighbors and for each other’s safety is so critical during these challenging times.”
The JCC is partnering with the Squirrel Hill Health Center in making vaccinations and PCR tests available for all staff prior to the Oct. 18 deadline.
JCC programs for which participants may receive government funding — such as early childhood and the JCC’s after-school offering — will not require a COVID-19 vaccination, “though it is highly encouraged,” according to JCC officials. The vaccine mandate, however, will apply to those children and their household members if they wish to participate in JCC enrichment activities such as swim lessons.
The JCC’s face mask requirement for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals while indoors at the JCC, announced Aug. 3, is expected to remain in place until Allegheny County falls below the high or substantial community transmission rate, according to the Aug. 25 letter to members. PJC
— Toby Tabachnick