(Last updated March 17, 2020)
Hello fellow WBN Members,
Allegheny County has just asked all non-essential businesses to voluntarily close or implement alternative work strategies for at least 14 days to slow the spread of the virus. We anticipate that the surrounding counties will follow suit very soon. This recommendation does not impact supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations or health care services.
Why did they do this?
The virus that causes COVID-19 is highly contagious and poses grave risks for older people and those with pre-existing conditions. Some people will experience only mild symptoms, but others will require acute care in a hospital setting. Because the virus is so contagious, with a long incubation period, the number of people needing acute care can quickly overwhelm the health system and lead to poor outcomes.
The most important thing we can be doing now is social distancing. This is critical in order to slow down the spread and allow our health care systems to be able to provide life saving treatment for everyone who needs it. (For those still unfamiliar with the term, social distancing includes staying at least 6 feet apart from other people who are not in your immediate household)
What this means for WBN meetings
Although WBN listed that we can continue to meet as chapters, that needs to be changed per the current updates warning by Allegheny county to close all non-essential businesses as well as avoiding group meetings for 2 months for the time being. I want to err on the side of caution and comply with all recommendations by the CDC. I will be asking Nancy Boyer to change our statement to update it to state that no chapter should be meeting in-person at this time. It’s too risky for potential exposure and transmission of the virus.
There will be a Zoom call for Chapter Officers on Wednesday @ 3pm to answer any questions about these changes and how to set up the virtual meetings. This meeting will be recorded for those who cannot attend. Meeting details will be sent to Chapter Officers later today.
What this means for WBN events
All networking events and the annual dinner are postponed until further notice. I hope that by June we can hold the annual dinner and also include some networking events if that’s possible. If we cannot hold the annual dinner before the end of June, then we will simply send out the state-of-WBN report to all members and will award the woman of the year, service person of the year, annual service project, and Jean Walsh scholarship via online announcement.
Virtual Meeting Options. There are many virtual meeting options, including conference call, Zoom and GoToMeeting. WBN uses Zoom with great success, but they are all generally similar.
- Zoom tutorials can be found here https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/categories/201146643 .
- WBN has an account that can be used by one chapter at a time. The MSC is currently scheduling all chapter meetings into Zoom and she will send an email soon to chapter officers with the Zoom schedule and more details.
- When there are multiple chapters with the same meeting time, the MSC will schedule the Zoom time slots back-to-back, as close to your regular meeting time as possible . If your chapter members cannot attend the new time slot, you have a few options. The easiest is to either use another service or a different Zoom account. Someone in your chapter may already have a paid account they can use, or someone in your chapter can create a free account. Free accounts are limited to 40 minutes, however you can always utilize two zoom sessions with a short break in between. It isn’t ideal, but it can work.
- Alternatively, you may shift meeting times to share the WBN Zoom account or move meetings to another day. Please keep in mind that changing the meeting time needs to work for ALL of the members in your chapter. If you need to figure out when everyone can meet, you can use Doodle.com.
- Encourage chapter members to utilize a computer or tablet for Zoom or download the app to their phone and participate via video. This allows you to see each other which allows for a more in-person feel to the meeting.
- Feel free to explore other virtual options and decide what works best for you as a chapter.
In the upcoming days and weeks, we will continue to monitor the situation and update you. In the meantime, support each other with resources, encouragement, ideas, and emotional support.
The WBN office remains open and we, as a Board, are here to answer any of your questions or concerns and assist our chapters and members in any way we can.
Please remember that this too shall pass, and that we are stronger together!