By Rachel McLeod-Warrick
Principia entered Yellow Phase on Monday, Feb. 8, enabling CSO to hold an in-person Wednesday service for the first time this semester – with strict restrictions.
All CSO services and events had been on Zoom since the beginning of the semester, but CSO board members are well-versed in the ways of Zoom after transferring services online last March when the pandemic began.
Over the summer, CSO members worked hard to prepare for in-person services to resume last semester, paving the way for a smooth transition from Zoom to in-person services this semester. Dean of Students Maya Dietz, CSO, Media Services, Information Technology, and the music department all collaborated to make services possible, while respecting state and health regulations.
“The in-person services for CSO can happen because of the wonderful contributions from the Music Department, Media Services, Administration, CSO Board, and CSO Readers. These various groups were willing to respond with their feedback and offer up their services several weeks before the semester started,” says Lydia Piece, CSO president.
Several modifications to the chapel were made and restrictions were put into place.
“A few of these tasks included installing plexiglass [between readers], running tech rehearsals for simultaneous Zoom broadcasting, and implementing proper cleaning and social distancing practices in the Chapel,” explains Peirce.
Under current restrictions, the chapel has a maximum capacity of 50 people with spacing between occupants, and masks worn at all times. The most notable restriction is that on singing, even with masks and distancing.
Dr. Rose Whitmore, the college organist, set out to remedy this.
“The Fall 2020 CSO Hymn Project … attracted over forty students, faculty, staff, alumni, and family members who have generously recorded their voices singing hymns to weekly recorded organ accompaniments. More volunteers are always welcome! The unity and care for the community is demonstrated in these recordings and felt in CSO while we are still asked by health officials not to sing together indoors,” says Dr. Whitmore.
Community members have continued to help record hymns this semester, adding to the library of music available for church services.
Starting on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m., hymn sings will be held in Cox Auditorium, where singing is permitted – provided masks are worn and social distancing is in effect.
The possibility exists of holding Wednesday and Sunday services in Cox Auditorium, as well. The CSO board is leaving that decision to the community and encourages everyone to take the survey posted on the Prin College app.
CSO readers have been grateful for the blended format and the ability to read in the chapel, when the college has emerged from Orange Phase. “Reading in-person has made me consider every last detail and preparation that goes into a CSO service. The harmony during the service is entirely attributed to metaphysical preparation. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to serve the CSO in this manner. It [was] a great honor,” says last semester’s second reader, Dean Colarossi.
Even when services were strictly over Zoom, many students were grateful for the opportunity to come together for services, albeit physically distant ones. Still, a number are looking forward to returning to the chapel. “I think it’s definitely easier to feel more engaged and to pay attention. The chapel is such a peaceful and uplifting place, so being there creates a beautiful sense of unity in our love for Christian Science,” says Junior Viviani DeCastro.
CSO will continue to offer Wednesday and Sunday services in the chapel and over Zoom for the rest of the semester when in Yellow Phase. Hymn sing, held exclusively in person, will also continue.
Featured photo shows the Principia College chapel in the snow. Photo by Sarah Geis.