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John

Covid-19 and Theta Xi

Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

Since March 2020, many of the universities who host Theta Xi chapters and colonies made announcements regarding changes to course instruction, altering of school breaks, campus closures, and re-opening plans for fall 2020. These changes may impact chapter, colony, and association operations. Effective immediately, The Grand Lodge and Headquarters Staff advise you of the following procedures.

Guidance for Chapters & Colonies

The decision to cancel or postpone any chapter event or function should be made by the chapter officers in consultation with your advisor and alumni association/house corporation.  You may also wish to consult with your campus fraternity/sorority life advisor. Chapters should follow and consider all guidelines promulgated by Federal, State, and Local governmental agencies as well as the local University (referred to collectively in this document as “Local Authorities.”) The Fraternity strongly encourages chapters to explore hosting chapter operations virtually when in-person is not feasible.

CHAPTER/COLONY SUPPORT

Fraternity Headquarters operations will be enhanced for the virtual environment in fall 2020!  During this time, the Fraternity will be offering online meetings for cohorts of officers to gather, share experiences with one another, and remain connected for peer support.  The staff will also conduct online educational workshops to keep officers updated on important responsibilities, as well as provide chapters with ways to meet educational expectations for brothers.  Staff will also be scheduling meetings with chapter officers, or entire executive committees, to add additional support until travel and in-person visits are safe again.

All national staff members will continue work from the headquarters office in St. Louis and/or from their remote offices. Any changes in hours or staffing will be announced if they become necessary. Fraternity Headquarters staff are committed to supporting our members and chapters. Please direct questions to your contact at Headquarters.

CHAPTER MEETINGS

Work with your advisor, alumni association, or Headquarters contact on how to conduct necessary chapter business in accordance with Local Authorities. The Fraternity is here to support. Please check with your IFC to see if they have remote video conference software for your chapter. If they do not, reach out to your Headquarters contact for details from the Fraternity.

Virtual Meeting Options: 

  • For “in-person” one-on-one meetings (e.g. with a potential new member you want to stay connected with), utilize Facetime or an Android video calling app.
  • For virtual group meetings (e.g. a recruitment meeting or cabinet meeting), use one of the following options:
    • If you have a Gmail account, Google Meet allows up to 100 people to meet via video. You can meet on demand, or schedule through your Google calendar by “adding conferencing.”  Until September 30, Google Meet will not limit the meeting time.  After September 20, there will be a time limit.
    • Zoom also offers free video conferencing for up to 100 people. Calls are limited to 40 minutes with the free version.
  • For a larger group meeting (e.g. whole chapter workshop, meeting or program) or to record meetings, check to see if your campus offers video conferencing services. You may also reach out to your HQ Contact for assistance from the Fraternity.
  • We also recommend reading this article that highlights the best way to engage remote meetings.

Ritual Meetings:

  • Out of respect for our traditions, please refrain from capturing our Ritual practices and symbols through virtual meeting platforms.  The Fraternity is exploring options for conducting Ritual Meetings if deemed appropriate.
  • The Grand Lodge will temporarily allow official business to be conducted outside of a Ritual Meeting.
  • If you have questions or suggestions regarding integrating Ritual in the virtual experience, please reach out to executive director, Tanner Marcantel (tanner@thetaxi.org).

RECRUITMENT OF NEW MEMBERS

Recruitment is the lifeblood of your chapter. It is critical for the health of your chapter to continue recruitment efforts.

The national fraternity is offering several recruitment workshops to help your chapter continue to prepare for the fall (if you already haven’t started). Consult with Brother Justin Jennings, assistant director of chapter services regarding considerations for any remaining recruitment activities and/or fall plans.  Justin can be reached at justin@thetaxi.org.

ASSOCIATE MEMBER EDUCATION

The Grand Lodge and Headquarters staff understand that this is an unusual time in our history.  Recruiting and introducing new men to Theta Xi is different.  That doesn’t make it impossible or less special.  Together, we can work to create an environment that is welcoming for the new men who have joined Theta Xi since the spring 2020.  Like chapter meetings, follow the recommendations made by Local Authorities on regular gatherings for all registered student organizations. If the meeting cannot comply with the recommendations of Local Authorities, specifically the use of face masks and social distancing, the Chapter will need to host new member education virtually.

Please reach out to Brother Alan Grove, director of fraternity education, for tips on how to adjust your associate member education program to accommodate a virtual setting.  He can be reached at alan@thetaxi.org.

Just as with virtual chapter meetings, the same virtual platforms can be helpful with associate members:

  • For “in-person” one-on-one meetings (e.g. with a potential new member you want to stay connected with), utilize Facetime or an Android video calling app.
  • For virtual group meetings (e.g. a recruitment meeting or cabinet meeting), use one of the following options:
    • If you have a Gmail account, Google Meet allows up to 100 people to meet via video. You can meet on demand, or schedule through your Google calendar by “adding conferencing.”  Until September 30, Google Meet will not limit the meeting time.  After September 20, there will be a time limit.
    • Zoom also offers free video conferencing for up to 100 people. Calls are limited to 40 minutes with the free version.
  • For a larger group meeting (e.g. whole chapter workshop, meeting or program) or to record meetings, check to see if your campus offers video conferencing services. You may also reach out to your HQ contact for assistance from the Fraternity.
  • We also recommend reading this article that highlights the best way to engage remote meetings.

INITIATION CEREMONY

Please note that Theta Xi initiation requires only 5 brothers perform the speaking parts of the ceremony. This should limit the number of members needed to accomplish a meaningful initiation ceremony for your associate members. The entire chapter does not need to be present for initiation to occur. Initiation may have to take place in a different location than is normal for the chapter. Additionally, you should take precautionary measures of limiting contact through handshakes, social distancing, and wearing face coverings/masks during this time.

If Local Authorities do not allow for initiation of associate members, please advise Headquarters as soon as possible.  You should report this to Amy Collins at amy@thetaxi.org

If you have further questions about the Ritual and out ceremonies, please contact executive director Tanner Marcantel at tanner@thetaxi.org.

PHILANTHROPY EVENTS, SOCIAL FUNCTIONS, AND OTHER GATHERINGS  

Chapters, colonies, alumni associations, and alumni clubs should avoid hosting in-person social events and gatherings at this time.  All members, chapters, colonies, alumni associations, and alumni clubs are highly encouraged to follow guidelines published by the Center for Disease Control for the prevention of the COVID-19 virus.  In the event that guidance differs between the Federal, State, and Local Authorities, Theta Xi members should follow the strictest guidance, rules, or regulations.  All members should also understand and consider the requirements or guidance issued by their host institution.

If your chapter or colony is planning an event or gathering, it is encouraged that you reach out to your Headquarters contact to review your event plan.

If Local Authorities recommend canceling in-person meetings/gatherings or has moved instruction online for a period of time, look to utilize programs for group phone calls or online meetings.  Other chapter-sponsored events such as social events, brotherhood events, and philanthropy events should be considered non-essential.

Consult with your advisors and/or alumni association regarding any existing contracts for space and events. Contracts should be reviewed by the booking party to review any “act of God” clause or otherwise to mitigate cost.

CHAPTER FINANCES

Although functions are limited or eliminated in the short-term, there will be a day when chapter activities will resume.  When that day arrives, Theta Xi Chapters need to be financially sound and organized to resume all chapter responsibilities.

Dues: Whether you are affected by a campus closure or not, dues collection to cover fixed expenses should continue as planned. All other chapter dues should be reassessed.  Chapter Treasurers should consult with your advisor or alumni association if you wish to consider prorating dues because of a campus closure.

Billing: Payments to the Fraternity Headquarters, including dues, risk management assessments, AM and initiation fees continue to be owed as planned. Contact Amy Collins if you have any questions. 

HOUSING

Chapters/colonies living in university-owned housing must follow the guidelines announced by Local Authorities. Questions about and procedures that might affect access, resources, and support should be directed to them.

Chapters/colonies living in Theta Xi-owned houses must work with their alumni association/house corporation to determine appropriate measures for brothers and residents.

Chapters/colonies who rent housing should follow university guidelines for classes and should contact the landlord or property manager for guidance.

In the case that an individual within one of your housing facilities is feeling ill and/or is diagnosed with COVID-19, follow the recommendations made by your Local Authorities for next steps.

We ask that all Alumni Association/Housing Corporation officers communicate with the host institution to learn more about any precautionary measures or steps that should be taken.

 

Guidance for Alumni Associations (House Corporations)

The Fraternity understands that house corporations will have questions and concerns about the potential spread of Coronavirus and best handling an unexpected closure of the facility. We suggest that you consider the following:

  • Follow all guidance provided by the CDC and Local Authorities. If you have not already, we suggest that a member of the house corporation contact these entities regarding recommendations specific to the town/campus.
  • Encourage members of the chapter to review the everyday preventive actions recommended by the CDC to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases.
  • In the case a member living in, or an employee working in, the housing facility is feeling ill, or is diagnosed with COVID-19, alert Local Authorities and follow their recommendations.
  • Diagnosed individuals should not be quarantined in a chapter house. Local Authorities will be in the best position to provide guidance as to where members should/could be quarantined.
  • Should the coronavirus be present in any facility, the facility needs to be properly decontaminated prior to approved re-entry.
  • Review all contracts and contact your vendors (food service, cleaning, etc.) to understand your obligations and with any concerns or questions regarding scheduling impacts due to COVID-19.

If the campus has taken steps to remove students from campus, contact Local Authorities for clarification and/or direction regarding chapter house facilities. We suggest that all chapters and house corporations follow the directions provided by Local Authorities.

  • House Corporation officers are responsible for making the decision to close a chapter facility in consultation with the chapter and campus.
  • Determine with Local Authorities if it is appropriate for students to remain in the facility if classes are cancelled or moved to online platforms. Also determine housing options for students who are not able to return home.
  • If closing the house, work to ensure the safety and security of the facility, referencing seasonal reminders for housing security.
  • If necessary, work to provide residents the opportunity to retrieve personal property before returning home.
  • Review rental agreements/contracts and begin to develop a plan for collections and vendors in the event of a long-term closure.
  • Review any relevant or related insurance coverages.
  • Prior to reopening the property, ensure proper cleaning and regular opening procedures.

 

Guidance from Holmes Murphy (Theta Xi’s insurance broker)

Additional guidance has been provided by Holmes Murphy, our insurance broker, that you may find helpful:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the novel coronavirus outbreak. This is an emerging, rapidly developing situation and the CDC will provide updated information as soon as it becomes available, in addition to updated guidance.
  • Per the CDC, there is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Additionally, the CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including: 
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
    • Stay home when you are sick.
    • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. 
  • If a member feels they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus or has symptoms of having coronavirus, they need to go to the hospital immediately for testing.
  • Should the member test positive for the coronavirus, the CDC and the local health department will conduct contact tracing which will likely lead back to the fraternity/sorority facility (if applicable). Please also make your Headquarters and Fraternity & Sorority Programs is aware as soon as possible.
  • It will be under the control of the CDC and the local health department to determine the next steps, including, if necessary, where and for what length an individual must be quarantined.
  • Should the chapter facility need to be decontaminated, please consult the Global Biorisk Advisory Council website for guidance and resources.