COVID-19 Message from the District 53 Senior Team
Updated February 1, 2021
Toastmasters District 53 has weathered the initial consequences of the ongong Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Most clubs have transitioned to an online format, and all District activities including contests and club officer training will remain online for the foreseeable future.
After a long discussion period and delay, the District Executive Committee chose, by unanimous consent, to conduct all District Annual Conference activities online. Notice of the schedule of these events will be given shortly, but will include a keynote speech, both the International and Humorous contests, the spring business meeting and the election of next year’s officers, a Hall of Fame for award winners in the 2020-21 program year, and a slate of workshops and panel discussions. All events will take place between May 3 and May 16, 2021.
At this time, we do not anticipate that the District will run any in-person events before July 1, 2021 — but hope springs eternal, and we may be able to hold one or two in-person events during Club Officer Trainings in June 2021.
We recommend to clubs that you maintain social distancing and remain in online environments for the time being, and follow local guidance from public health officials regarding re-opening.
We recommend that clubs follow local guidance from public health agencies and reputable news sources in their decision-making about re-opening.
At this time, Massachusetts and New York all continue to recommend a cap on public indoor gatherings to no more than 25 persons, although there are variations between states and counties; Connecticut relaxed their guidance for Phase 3 on October 8, allowing 75% occupancy up to 30 persons.
Check with your local government health agency for ongoing shifts in procedures. We suggest that clubs begin discussing their options with their former meeting places: since many businesses and public locations may change their policies and procedures for outside groups. Clubs should determine if they may resume club activities at their old locations after re-opening, and find a new meeting location if not.
The Board of Directors has made the exception that all clubs in all Districts can meet entirely online as needed until further notice. Read the March 12th statement from Toastmasters International. We recommend that all District 53 clubs continue meeting online, and to use the Internet to “close the social distance” with fellowship and community interaction through the winter.
Publicizing Online Meetings
Looking to grow your attendance or membership and capitalize with online access? There are great ways to do that safely and securely.
Security is Important
- Ask for an email or other verifiable information from potential guests.
- Get a phone number from guests, and call them ahead of the meeting.
- Don’t reveal your online meeting link ahead of time. Deliver it to members and guests privately.
- Advertise the email or Facebook link to make contact with your club, and check that resource regularly.
- Make a phone call and talk to would-be guests before inviting them to the online meeting.
- Use social media accounts (Meetup, Facebook, Twitter, and more) to funnel potential guests toward a group of clear points of contact: a single email, facebook name, and a single phone number.
- Don’t make one person responsible for all methods, but designate one person as the manager of each type of contact.
"Online" Club Designation
If you are meeting online, you should let District and Toastmasters website visitors know. Indicate that in your Club Demographic section of Club Central on toastmasters.org by clicking the "Yes" button for Online Attendance. This will let members and potential guests know that individuals can participate in the club online.
The District has a Meetup account where we promote the open clubs. If your club is meeting online and open to guests, please EMAIL us to let us know so that we can properly promote your club.
Please let us know if that information is incorrect, so that we can update it and help you welcome new guests and potential new members through the Meetup Channel.
Online Meeting Resources
Toastmasters International Online Meetings Page
Five page guide to help role-holders conduct Zoom online meetings
Zoom Video Conferencing
WebEx Video Conferencing
Updated Information from Toastmasters International
At this time, District 53 interprets the guidance from the Board of Directors of Toastmasters International to include:
- All Area, Division, and District Contests will occur online;
- The Annual District Conference may be online or in-person, as local circumstances and the vote of the District Council or DEC may warrant;
- The Semi-annual District Business Meeting may be online or in-person during the Annual District Conference.
District 53 expects updated guidance from the Toastmasters International Board of Directors prior to April 1, 2021.
Toastmasters International Coronavirus Update
Toastmasters International continues to monitor the effects of the disease on our clubs, members, and upcoming and current District events. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has impacted the daily lives of Toastmasters around the world, and the Board of Directors have taken actions to support members and clubs. You can read about them in the communications section below. The health and safety of all Toastmasters is our top priority.
Refer to the Toastmasters COVID-19 webpage for the latest messages and updates from International Headquarters. Please watch this accompanying video from International President Richard E. Peck regarding the coronavirus.