COVID Vaccination Status and Testing at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs

COVID Vaccination Status and Testing at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs

COVID Vaccination Status and Testing at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs

The pandemic has changed the way we plan Bar and Bat Mitzvah celebrations. Nowadays, before we even begin to think about logos, swag and décor, we ask ourselves, “Am I making the right decision to proceed with a celebration in the first place?” Luckily, many families who dealt with COVID restrictions at their Bar or Bat Mitzvah are willing to share how they handled COVID requirements.

Check Your Federal, State and Venue COVID Vaccination and Masking Requirements

First and foremost, families consulted the Center for Disease Control, local boards of health, and venues for specific COVID requirements. For recent celebrations in NYC and California, all guests entering the venue had to be vaccinated in accordance with State and local COVID rules for indoor dining. In fact, in California, host families can even verify proof of vaccination through the State. Many temples are also requiring negative COVID tests and proof of vaccination. 

Put Guests on Notice: Let Them Know in advance that you will Require Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID Test

After you have checked all the applicable COVID requirements for your geographical area and venue, you must get the message to your guests. But how do you ask guests about their vaccination status or proof of a negative COVID test in a way that won’t offend? Because let’s be honest, it’s awkward.

Ask Ahead of time. Keep your timeline moving by asking for proof of vaccination and negative COVID test in advance. This also eliminates the unfortunate circumstance of having to ask a guest to leave.

Many families sent a straightforward email. Here are some examples of language used by real families:
• “All vaccinated guests will be asked to show proof of vaccination or negative test at the door.”
• “We are asking that attending guests be fully vaccinated. If you are not, we hope you will join us virtually.”
• “We graciously ask that all guests ages 12 and above be fully vaccinated.”
• “If you are 12 and older we require proof of vaccination to attend the celebration. Children under 12 will need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of the event.”
• “Vaccines will be required for all guests 12 and up and vaccine cards will be checked as you enter. Our security staff will not be able to discuss this policy with you at the door.”

Some families ask guests to test themselves within 72 hours of the event and furnish the results. This is especially true for guests who were under the age for vaccination or guests who traveled from out of town. You will have “less surprises on the day of the party” if you ask guests to test ahead of time.

Whether or not your guests are vaccinated, it is important to acknowledge that you understand how they feel about attending a large event. One mom told guests by email “we completely understand if you changed your mind and would prefer to sit this out due to the current situation with COVID.” As another mom explained to us, “it’s very hard, but the one thing we can do is be kind. Unvaccinated guests handled our requests well. We had no complaints or cancellations.” Agreeing with this, another mom added “we received many kind words from parents and family thanking us for being responsible.” She emphasized that asking for vaccination status is the new norm and did not deter a single guest from attending their Bar Mitzvah. Bottom line: even your most easily offended relatives can appreciate a kindly worded email!

How to Collect and Keep Track of Vaccination Status and COVID Test Results

You’ve made your decision to ask for vaccination cards or negative COVID tests. Now what? How do you collect and keep track of the information?

Many families asked guests to show their vaccination card (or a photo) at the door to the venue. Several families asked for vaccination dates on the RSVP card. Others used various online platforms in advance to keep track of vaccination replies. One family sent guests a Google Form and then had a security guard at the door checking in guests. For that family, proof of vaccination was not negotiable. “We were pretty clear, no card/PCR, no entry.” Other families asked guests to upload their vaccination cards to RSVPify or Websites they created. Families having more intimate Bar or Bat Mitzvahs with close friends and family felt comfortable with an honor system.

How to Manage COVID Testing on at the Venue on the Day of the Party

Many families take additional steps of testing guests before they walk through the door. But how do you administer tests or collect vaccination information without delaying the service and celebration?

One family hired someone to take temperatures before guests entered the party. Another family hired a company to administer tests in their driveway two days before the big day.

Many families we spoke with administered rapid tests to all guests at the venue. One mom explained that she started an hour before the service and kept guests in a room until they tested negative and then were invited to join the service.

Another parent created a Signup Genius for 20 guests at a time in 15 minute intervals. To protect privacy, the family assigned each guest a number and used a wipe off board to post negative results. They also collected phone numbers in the event of a positive test. Parents of kids being dropped off waited in the parking lot for the all-clear.

The P Word…!

We refuse to say pivot ever again, so instead will use the word “creative” and sometimes, you will need to get creative! For example, while some families were lucky to obtain rapid tests at Walmart, CVS and Walgreens, they have become scarce. One resourceful family suggested contacting camps and schools to purchase soon to be expiring tests.

Likewise, to make masks feel like less of a burden, one family cleverly incorporated masks into the Bat Mitzvah theme with a masquerade murder mystery party!

Whether you ask for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test, it’s important to keep your end-game in mind. Your child is about to embark on an incredible Jewish milestone, and you want that experience to be as safe as possible for everyone. Yes, the times are weird, but, with vaccinations for kids 5-11 years old recently approved, let’s all hope they are a’ changing!

Would you like to add what you did for your child’s celebration? Just send us an email at [email protected].

 

Posted in Mitzvah Ideas, Other Ideas