Friday, January 15, 2021
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 2020 and will most likely continue to do so through the program 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. Currently Massachusetts is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of cases, and we are aware of the presence of several virus variants, including a version first seen in the UK that seems to be particularly transmissible. As a result, the City of Boston has revisited some of the restrictions that were in place earlier this year.
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 occur at some point. 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. Over the next several months, we expect our working group to begin making these decisions with everyone’s best interests in mind. 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 interest in hybrid meetings, which are certainly a possibility. We have been following news on the vaccine rollout with great interest, as this will have the biggest impact on our timeline.
Based on this timeline, the fact that the current vaccines require two doses, and the reality that it will take some time for enough of the population to be vaccinated to control the spread of the virus, we expect that we can begin meeting in the summer.
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: