Registered Student Organization Activities & COVID-19
Email from GT Coronavirus Taskforce | Sunday, 8/23/20
"To the Georgia Tech Community:
Throughout the weekend, we had an increase in positive Covid-19 cases. As such, we are updating you today to alert you to some new health and safety measures Georgia Tech is adding and some precautions you should take.
Many of the positive cases took place among the community of students living in Greek houses near campus. We have identified two clusters in Greek houses, the one we reported on Friday and a smaller one within another Greek house this weekend. Quick action from the individuals who tested positive, teamed with Georgia Tech’s multi-pronged surveillance and diagnostic testing, notification and tracing program helped catch the increase quickly. We have isolated the residents of the houses with the most cases and tested almost all Greek house residents on Saturday using mobile surveillance testing units. Increased testing will continue today and throughout the week at Greek housing and on-campus housing
It is critically important that all members of the campus community get tested weekly. This will help reduce the spread of Covid-19 on campus and allow us to continue to offer in-person teaching and learning.
Since August 8 we’ve tested more than 9,000 members of the Georgia Tech community through the free surveillance testing program. That is a great start, and we must continue the effort at the same pace throughout the semester to stay healthy and safe.
You can visit any of the free surveillance testing locations on or off campus. If you are a symptomatic student, please visit Stamps Health Center. Students, faculty, and staff who are symptomatic can also visit the free Fulton County walk-up testing site located in the McCamish Pavilion parking lot. Details about all testing options can be found here.
In addition, our student code explicitly prohibits behavior that endangers any person(s), including self. Hosting on- or off-campus events of any size that do not allow for social distancing or don’t take precautionary measures, such as additional hand sanitation stations and disinfecting protocols, and required face coverings, will be considered violations of the Non-Academic Misconduct Policy. Hiding a positive case puts others at risk. Failing to isolate or quarantine when required to do so puts others at risk. Consequently, actions that threaten the health and safety of our community will result in swift and considerable disciplinary action.
Testing positive is not an offense. On the contrary, if you find out you tested positive, you have an opportunity to stay healthy, to seek help, and, very importantly, to help keep others healthy.
Please focus on the actions you can take to keep yourself and your community safe. We have seen some of the negative discourse taking place; it is not productive nor will it keep our community healthy.
If everyone who lives and works on campus participates in free weekly screenings and opts into the NOVID exposure notification app and uses it regularly, then we have an excellent chance to maintain low rates of transmission.
For more information about testing or any other important health and safety precautions to take, please visit the Campus Guidelines pages on the Tech Moving Forward website."
Date: August 4, 2020
To: All Registered Student Organization Leaders
From: Center for Student Engagement
Re: Guidance to Registered Student Organizations regarding events and meetings
Greetings organization leaders! The information included in this memo is intended for use beginning August 2020. While we are excited about coming back to campus, it must be acknowledged the semester will look very different from what we are used to. Detailed reservation processes will be coming from Capital Planning and Space Management in early August. What follows is guidance that was provided for you as organizational leaders by the Georgia Tech COVID-19 Response Task Force in June of 2020:
Student organizations will be asked to follow physical distancing guidelines. We encourage staff to offer appointments, meetings, and trainings in a hybrid model (online and in-person), and we encourage organizations to move events, activities, and meetings online whenever possible. Access to common spaces will be limited, and in-person functions will require everyone to wear face coverings. If organizations cannot readily move events, activities, and meetings online, student leaders will be encouraged to revise event plans to provide strict physical distancing guidelines or consider postponement or cancellation.
Similarly, there will be significantly reduced occupancy of reservable spaces and events will be subject to review:
Campus event spaces will operate with reduced occupancy and physical distancing practices. All campus visitors and attendees at campus events will be expected to follow Georgia Tech’s health and safety guidelines. All campus events will be subject to a central review process and may be required to present their health and safety plan to qualify for event approval.
The decision to return to campus is based on a balance of the health and safety of everyone in our community and a focus on the continuation of learning, campus life, and advancement toward graduation. This balance will require each of us to closely follow the Task Force’s plan. The staff in the Center for Student Engagement (including Civic Engagement, Fraternity and Sorority Life, Student Media & Publications, and Student Organizations) can provide advising for modifying programs, events, and meetings upon request from RSO leaders.
The Center for Student Engagement is committed to modeling safe and scalable virtual programs - quite simply, the standard we ask of Student Organizations is a standard we have set for the Center. Through at least December 2020, the Center for Student Engagement will host a variety of virtual experiences, programs, and educational opportunities.
(1) When considering on-campus events, we ask each of you as student leaders to determine the feasibility of any events to take place in-person. This decision should be based on strict compliance to physical distancing and PPE recommendations. As leaders who are dedicated to Progress & Service as well as to fostering a safe and inclusive GT community, our primary concern must be the health of individuals and the well-being of our community. Due to the potential for increased spread of virus and decreased venue availability and capacity, events that invite participation from individuals and groups outside of the Georgia Tech community are discouraged.
(2) When considering off-campus events, we ask that you utilize a similar process for decision making. The Center for Student Engagement highly recommends that you postpone or cancel group travel or large social gatherings. As it is determined that off-campus programs, competitive activities, service opportunities, etc. will resume or occur in a modified format, organizations should make decisions based on the best interest of the health of their members and the health of those who are part of the community in which you will be entering.
(3) If decisions are made to not cancel or postpone activities and/or travel, organizations with state, regional or national governing boards should lean on the guidance and approval of those organizations. Additionally, we recommend that if your organization is a chapter of, or is directly connected to a state, regional, or national organization, that the final plan be reviewed and approved by the staff or volunteers of that organization. We understand this is going to be a challenging process; however, we are here to support you as you lead your organization through this phase of pandemic response and recovery.
4) Registered Student Organizations that are advised directly by and are connected to programming that is jointly managed by an Institute department should seek the respective department’s guidance for event planning.
Event Recommendations and Requirements for RSOs at Georgia Tech:
The following guidelines are outlined with a central question in mind: How can my organization support the health and safety of its members and communities we might be entering while also fulfilling our mission?
While your organization may have fulfilled its mission in the past through a specific set of programs/events, your mission isn’t tied to those events happening! Your organization can innovate new and modified ways to fulfill your mission while also remaining inclusive and safe for all members during this unprecedented time.
- Hold virtual meetings and programs whenever possible.
- When transitioning programs/events to a virtual setting, consider what the goals of the program are. How can you achieve these goals virtually?
- For programs that your organization cannot possibly recreate virtually, consider cancelling the event for the semester and creating a replacement engagement opportunity.
RSO In-Person Event Recommendations
- While allowable with appropriate campus reservation approval, it is recommended that RSOs not gather in groups greater than 25 persons and to do so only when social distancing can be maintained.
- Whenever possible, student organization events that are determined to be held in person should use strategies to maintain the smallest attendance possible at any given time.
- Food and drink service at events is discouraged. Brown bag or other events where participants bring food are also discouraged.
- Avoid all person-to-person contact, including handshaking.
- Provide disposable face coverings at your event.
RSO In-Person Event Requirements
- Use the Engage or Campus Tickets platforms for event check-in.
- A departmental event facilitator may be required based on event location and attendance.
- Guidance will be shared on space.gatech.edu when booking for Fall 2020 opens.
- Before your event, set standards for participants. It is expected that you will, at minimum, require face coverings for in-person campus programs hosted by your organization. List additional expectations in your event promotions.
- Floor plans must allow for attendees to maintain 6 feet of separation during the event.
- Be respectful of others’ personal space. Maintain at least 6 feet of space between participants.
- Maintain rosters and logs of participants of events that, if necessary, may be used for contact tracing. Groups are required to keep attendance records for at least four weeks after an event.
- It is recommended that all international and domestic travel for student organizations be canceled or postponed. If decisions are made by RSO leaders to travel, the recommended process for review as communicated in section three (3) of this memo should be followed.
Updated: March 13, 2020 at 2:10 PM
All Registered Student Organization (RSO) on-campus events scheduled until March 29th should be postponed or canceled. We strongly encourage you to reconsider off-campus Registered Student Organization events/high density gatherings (banquets, mixers, service projects, formals, competitions, group meetings, etc.) during the 2-week period of suspended instruction (March 16 – March 29).
Additionally, we encourage your organizations to seriously consider what it would be like for your planned events and programs to either not occur on the scheduled date (after 3/29) OR to not occur this semester.
President Cabrera has stated that it is essential we accelerate our preparation efforts to move all classes and parts of our research and administration to a distance format. In line with this recommendation, we’re working with our Registered Student Organizations to prepare accordingly.
During and following the 2-week period of suspended instruction, we will likely receive updated recommendations and protocol regarding events. As such, consider the following risk management questions/scenarios to best plan:
What reservations, contracts, and other commitments can be amended or cancelled in the event our program cannot continue as scheduled?
What is the communication plan for updating participants and other members of new information?
What alternative mediums could be utilized to host a virtual program?
How can my organization leadership best preserve the health and safety of our members and the greater community?
Be assured we will communicate pertinent updates for RSOs as soon as we are made aware. Please be consistently checking the GT website while you are away for Spring Break as the situation can change daily, if not hourly. Updates can be found at: http://health.gatech.edu/coronavirus.
The Center for Student Engagement team is a resource to you as you navigate the coming weeks. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 404-894-3458 for assistance. Updates will additionally be posted on the Student Organizations website and Engage.
Dr. Gerome Stephens (Dean of Students and Director of Center for Student Engagement)
Quinn Foster (Director of Student Organizations)
Victoria Redmon (Coordinator of Student Organizations)