Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Dear Fellow Boston Toastmasters and Friends,
We are writing to keep you informed about the measures that Boston Toastmasters and Toastmasters International are taking in response to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
As you know, in-person club meetings at Boston Toastmasters have been suspended until further notice. The club has successfully been holding meetings through Zoom since March and will continue to do so through the new year.
We have taken this action for several reasons: our meeting venue, the Old South Church has suspended many gatherings and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has limited public gatherings as well. Although the heart of the Toastmasters Experience is the face-to-face meeting of our members, we support these measures in order to protect our membership and their loved ones.
We are in regular communication with the Old South Church regarding a timeline for returning. At this time, the church is allowing external parties like Boston Toastmasters to meet, but they have several restrictions in place should we decide to resume meetings. Some (but not all) of the restrictions include: attendees (including speakers) wear masks at all times, a limit of 2 people in the elevators at once, and a limit of 25 people (including officers and guests) at meetings. After much discussion, our officer board determined that these measures, while prudent, would result in a less-ideal experience compared to the virtual meetings we currently hold.
We have heard from some of our members who would like to return to live public speaking on-site. While we sympathize, we have a responsibility to each other as a community organization. Our members are various ages. Some are caretakers for high-risk individuals or are otherwise at elevated risk of complications from covid-19 themselves. Members may also be exercising differing precautions: some may be self-quarantining alone or in social bubbles, and others may be more heavily exposed to pathogens due to their line of work or to their own personal risk assessments. The very nature of our meetings also places our members at risk for transmitting covid-19 across Greater Boston easily. It is the position of Boston Toastmasters leadership that our club be a safe and welcoming place for all, even if that means existing in a virtual space and returning to in-person meetings more slowly.
That said, we also recognize that a return to live meetings will most likely occur at some point during this program year. In order to make this happen in a controlled and sensible way, we have created a working group of officers and members to plan and prepare for this transition. If you are a member of Boston Toastmasters and would like to help, please email Jesse at president at bostontoastmasters.org.
We are beginning to discuss what a return will look like. There is some interest in hybrid meetings, which are certainly a possibility. As we come out of the winter, we expect our working group to begin making these decisions with everyone’s best interests in mind.
You may also know that the club has elected to lower club dues for the April 2020 – September 2020 6-month term, and again for the September 2020 – March 2021 6-month term.
Many good things have come from our embrace of online meetings. We have hosted guests from around the world and our officers are able to use new tools to help our members, to name just two benefits. We are proud to have never missed a meeting during the pandemic, and we look forward to a bright and successful year together.
Your Boston Toastmasters Leadership Team:
|Jesse Welty||Erik Stricker||Patrick Wadland||Kevin Mannix|
|Joe Marini||Phaneendhar Gondesi||Tristen Grannum|
Here is an update from Toastmasters International President, Richard E. Peck: