Recommendations for Virtual Meetings
COVID-19 has disrupted SIA’s meetings. As we move forward, it is critical that those planning events are prepared to give members and projects the confidence that in-person meetings are safe experiences.
Important note: As of April 6, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings, particularly in areas where social distancing measures are hard to maintain. According to the CDC, face coverings can help slow the spread of the virus and keep people who do not know they have COVID-19 from transmitting it to others.
SIA recommends the following:
Follow all local, state, and national regulations and “reopen” plans. (Each state is developing and implementing its own plan, and it’s important to follow those guidelines for each phase and dates as you plan.)
Follow CDC recommendations for safe interactions.
Require all attendees to wear masks and take prevention measures for the safety of all.
Factors to Consider When Planning Events
Choosing a virtual vs. in-person event
Can your event be held electronically or virtually? While virtual or digital meetings and events are highly recommended, we realize some can’t be held electronically, so please use your best judgment when deciding on in-person events.
Picking a venue/location
Was the venue open/used during the spread of COVID-19?
When was it last cleaned/disinfected, and what disinfecting protocols are in place? Seek answers to how often common areas and frequent touch-points are disinfected, as well as if the venue will supply soap, hand sanitizer, hand-washing stations, trash cans, etc.
Does the venue or room layouts allow for safe distancing? Please consider crowd density and refer to state and local regulations for event capacities and distancing protocols. In addition, it is strongly recommended that events not be held in private residences because of the potential for a home to become contaminated with so many guests entering.
Considerations for attendees
Think about your attendee demographics — age and pre-existing conditions, for example, need to be considered — when organizing and hosting an event.
Communications should discourage attendance by anyone who is feeling sick or at risk. Provide information on symptoms. Plan how emergency/cancellation information will be communicated.
Will you screen attendees upon entering? Will your club provide hand sanitizer, face masks, tissues, and/or gloves? (Please note that SIAHQ is unable to provide these items to clubs.)
It is recommended that groups perform basic wellness checks of attendees before they enter and when they leave the event space. Amazon has a selection of contactless thermometers available for screening. (These are examples of what is available and not a recommendation for one product over another.)
Regarding hospitality, food, and beverage
Review the banquet/catering safety and cleanliness plan.
Review state and local guidelines for food service.
Consider serving individually packaged food such as boxed/bag meals and water bottles.
Avoid serving food where multiple hands will touch the food or serving utensils.
Consider staggering food service times to avoid overcrowding.
Provide health Information
Much of this information is already online—for example, websites for city, county, state, and health authorities will contain current restrictions for your area and group size; in addition, the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention contain a wealth of health information. Accordingly, develop a list of local COVID-19 testing facilities for attendees who ask, and develop a plan in case of illness during your meeting.
Before, During, and After
Meet with facility operations to develop contingency and communication plans that address COVID-19 scenarios that could impact the meeting. Note the efforts already in place and communicate them to attendees. Likewise, gather prevention supplies such as face masks, soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, tissues, and alcohol tissues. (Some items are still scarce; use your best judgment on what you can obtain in your area.)
Stay informed and updated on local and national COVID-19 news. Disseminate information to members/testing prospects on safety precautions, COVID-19 symptoms, safe distancing, and safe alternatives to shaking hands, hugging, and high-fiving. Discourage attendance by anyone not feeling well or anyone who thinks they might have been exposed. (Establish and communicate your refund policy.) Create a quarantine zone and plan of action for anyone who might become ill at the event.
Ensure that recommendations for hospitality and food/beverage are in place. Display signs, table tents, or posters reminding participants preventative measures are encouraged. Frequently remind attendees of preventive measures (no hugging or hand shaking, safe distancing, etc.), and ensure access to hand-washing facilities, hand sanitizer, and tissues.
Separate anyone who is sick from the rest of the group — place them in a quarantine zone — and assist them with contacting local health authorities. If your group has provided face masks or if attendees have their own, ensure they are worn at all times.
Review lessons learned with the facility coordinator and other planners, developing new necessary additions for future events. Continue to monitor health agencies for further guidelines. Request that attendees notify organizers if they develop symptoms within two weeks of the event, and notify other attendees accordingly.
Special Considerations for Youth Events
SIA has created resources to guide clubs and members when working with youth. For virtual events, there are certain additional considerations:
- Do not publish a meeting link or information publicly. Keeping this information within private communication will help prevent Zoom and other presentations from being disrupted by uninvited attendees.
- Do not list names or other identifying information, such as attendee rosters, on screens. Likewise, do not allow kids to share their personal information. (If they want to connect with another young person, they can do that after the event.)
- Remember, you are visiting, digitally, another person’s home, where situations might differ from what you expect or where you may encounter background sights or sounds not meant to be seen or heard.
SIA extends a special thank you to Mensa for allowing us to adapt and use these guidelines.