A message from the Boston Toastmasters Board:

Tuesday, September 7, 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 since last year.  The club immediately pivoted to meeting through Zoom in March 2020 and will most likely continue to do so for quite some time as part of our transition to hybrid meetings. We expect to run hybrid meetings in some form through the end of the current program year.

Over the summer, we tracked Massachusetts’ vaccination rates, and the spread of the delta variant. We successfully held our first in-person event since March 2020: a return of our annual club picnic.

We were also in consultation with District 31 and Toastmasters International, as well as our host the Old South Church in Copley Square. Finally, we collected data from our current members over their expectations for the year.

You may be interested in the following datapoints:

  • Nearly 90% of our members responding said they planned to continue meeting online at least some of the time once we are back on-site.
  • Only two members responded that they wouldn’t need any sort of precautions to feel comfortable meeting on-site.
  • 70% of the other members said they would like to know that the other attendees are confirmed vaccinated. This was the single precaution that most people agreed on.
  • Most (80%) said that wearing a mask was a trade-off they’d make for on-site meetings.
  • Finally, the majority (60%) said they wanted the meeting experience to be as equitable as possible for members, whether they attended online or on-site.

The current situation at the OSC is this:

  • Limited admission & physical distancing required
  • Attendees (including speakers) must be masked, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Extra space between the speaker and audience.

Additionally, based on our survey data, current health guidance, and the practices of other organizations, BTM will require that members who wish to attend on-site:

  • RSVP before arriving (Easy-speak allows physical and online RSVPs. We will enable this feature as we launch hybrid meetings.)
  • Confirm their vaccine status with the club before arriving on site.

We will make an exception at one or two meetings TBA to ease the transition. Otherwise, we will conduct this 1-time verification in private Zoom breakout rooms one member at a time. Although this precaution is important, we want to be respectful of our members’ personal information. To that end, we will perform verification live. That is, we will not record, request, or store a photo or copy of vaccination records. We will also not store any information besides the member’s name and vaccination date. Vaccination is not a requirement for membership and we expect many members, vaccinated or not, will take advantage of the convenience of online meetings even after we begin meeting on-site.

At this time, guests will only be allowed to attend online. We expect this to change once we are able to comfortably accommodate members, probably in Q1 of 2022. New members will have an opportunity to confirm their vaccination status with the club as part of their onboarding process.

We are currently expecting to hold our annual end-of-the-year members dinner, though this is subject to local laws and conditions in early winter. We encourage you to vaccinate yourself against covid-19 as well as seasonal flu as we head into the fall.

The International Speech Contest and Evaluation Contest in the spring will be held online at the Area, Division, and District levels, and likely at the club level as well, so that contestants can better prepare for the experience at later levels.

We ended physical meetings quite suddenly, but we have the freedom to plan an elegant and deliberate return now. We ask for your patience and understanding that, although we will be meeting in Back Bay soon enough, there is no going back to 2019 entirely, and that is probably for the best. We look forward to discovering a new, more accessible, more far-reaching Boston Toastmasters with you.

Sincerely yours,

Your Boston Toastmasters Leadership Team:

Erik StrickerYeonjoo SonPatrick Wadland
Jesse WeltyTristen Grannum