COVID-19: Sigma Delta Tau Updates
May 5, 2020
Information for SDT House Corporation Leaders
Dear House Corporation Leaders,
Looking ahead to the fall as many of you may be underway with summer projects and making necessary preparations for the return of members, we want to continue to provide resources with the outlook of a “new normal” at our host institutions.
CDC Guidance for Shared or Congregate Housing
As many campuses are beginning to grapple with how they will be handling reopening for instruction in the fall, we advise that this is the time you review your standard operating procedures and any recommendations provided by your local health departments. Recently the CDC issued COVID-19 guidance on shared and congregate housing. While not a match for match for Greek facilities, there are many recommendations provided that may be able to lend guidance on how to operate during the academic year.
Important Terms for Housing Agreements: Updated Version with New Verbiage
Each year our partners at MJ Insurance review and publish the Important Terms for Housing Agreements for the MJ Housing Forum. This document is updated based on trends and questions that are received by MJ and other industry partners in contract reviews.Learning from the current experience of broad closings due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, they have provided new language that is suggested to be added to future agreements to clarify closures caused by public health emergencies.
- Unexpected House Closure. In addition to the other termination rights granted to House Corporation in this Agreement, House Corporation may close the Chapter House and require the members to vacate the same in the event such action is required or encouraged by the University, or if the University has or will cancel or suspend in-person classes, whether due to public health emergencies, pandemics, communicable disease outbreaks or any other reason. In such case, the determination of whether payments made by or due from Member will be credited against future payments (or, with regard to seniors, refunded) will be made on a case by case basis, considering all factors, including the length of time the Chapter House is closed and the fixed expenses incurred by the House Corporation.
Please note that each chapter facility may have to adhere to different state and local guidelines from health officials. We ask that you consult these local health resources to help synthesize this language.
COVID-19 Response – Housing Task Force
Recently a message was sent to local house corporations regarding the task force to be established focused on housing needs and developing action items that will aid our local volunteers. This group will work with representative(s) from the National Board of Directors and the new Sigma Delta Tau Capital Corporation to provide resources going into the resumption of Fall 2020 operations. If you are interested in contributing to this effort, we ask you let us know by this Friday, May 8, 2020.
Sigma Delta Tau Capital Corporation
In addition to providing continuing support during this pandemic to our many local housed and unhoused chapters across North America, we also wanted to share that the Sigma Delta Tau Capital Corporation has been established as the newest entity in the Sigma Delta Tau family. Over the coming months through the summer we will be sharing more information on services and benefits provided to house corporations who may be interested in its partnership.
We want to thank you all for your ongoing efforts in ensuring the safety of our members and continuing to be great examples of volunteer impact. As always, this situation will continue to evolve, and we will continue to do our best to provide general guidance as information becomes available. Additional resources can continue to be found on the Sigma Delta Tau homepage. This information is designed to guide and inform, but please do not hesitate to contact the National Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the housing team (email@example.com). If you feel you need more explicit instruction or clarification as it relates to your chapter.
Director of Housing
March 27, 2020
SDT House Corporation Information
Dear House Corporation Leaders,
As we all work together to continue to move forward as an organization in light of the novel Coronavirus precautions being taken across North America, we want to continue to provide information related to the impact on your facilities.As many of you have elected to close your facilities early or make other financial decisions in the interest of membership wellbeing, we want to provide additional information as you continue to navigate these events. Alongside our partners and peer organizations, we have been closely monitoring legislative developments, including the recent passage of the CARES Act, and the expected fourth stimulus bill by Congress. Below are some outline resources and links for your house corporation, if you believe that you may need financial assistance during this interruption to your normal operations.
Please note that this communication is to serve as informational communication only and is not a recommendation or solicitation by Sigma Delta Tau or Sigma Delta Tau Capital Corporation for any products or services.
We observe that each chapter has a unique housing situation and all chapter facilities are different. As this situation is constantly evolving and no two circumstances are the same, we will continue to do our best to provide general guidance as information becomes available. Additional resources can be found on the Sigma Delta Tau homepage, where we have also included a link for you to submit individual questions to our housing team.
The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) hascreated a page for COVID-19 small business loan guidance. On Tuesday, March 17, SBA revised the criteria for states seeking an economic injury declaration related to COVID-19 to make it easier to qualify. This was evolved significantly as Congress passed modifications and injected hundreds of billions of dollars into the program under the CARES Act. It is encouraged your house corporation reviews this program, and groups can apply for support as soon as possible if they are eligible.
All 501(c) entities are eligible to apply for a COVID-19 EIDL loan…this includes sorority or fraternity organizations, house corporations and other similar nonprofit organizations. The loan provides working capital up to $2 million to small businesses and can be used for payroll, accounts payable, debt payments and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred.
One of the highlights of the EIDL program is a Loan Advance of up to $10,000. This loan advance, in some places referred to as an “emergency grant,” does not have to be repaid even if the applicant is denied the loan. Note, only applicants that fully complete and submit an entire loan application will receive this advance. The applicant will be required to demonstrate certain qualifications, for example: ability to repay, credit history, substantial economic injury as a result of the disaster, etc.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
The EIDL program varies from the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in a few important ways.
- Currently CARES PPP only applies to 501(c)(3) organizations, whereas all 501(c) nonprofit organizations are eligible for EIDL.
- Although EIDL can provide an advance of up to $10,000, the applicant is still seeking to take out a loan that must be repaid. Under current law, there is no forgiveness beyond the $10,000, and an applicant must certify, among other things, that it can repay the loan.
One important word of caution: If your corporation is exploring both the PPP and the COVID-19 EIDL loan program, please understand that participation in one may affect the participation in the other. You should consult with your local financial/tax professionals in completing these applications. Click here for a detailed FAQ on this program, including details on how to apply.
We again want to reiterate that each university and house corporation situation is unique. We recommend you engage with your own organization’s legal counsel or financial/tax professionals to assist you in making decisions about how to move forward.
This information is designed to guide and inform, but please do not hesitate to contact the National Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the housing team (email@example.com) if you feel you need more explicit instruction or clarification as it relates to your chapter.
Sources: MJ Insurance, SBA, NPC
Thank you and stay well.
Director of Housing
March 27, 2020
A Message from Sigma Delta Tau
We find ourselves in unprecedented times. Coronavirus has greatly changed our reality and forced us into unchartered territory. In the last couple of weeks, Sigma Delta Tau has had to manage the return of our study abroad students, the closing of many of our housing facilities, the transition to a distance learning environment for collegians, the transition to a work from home environment for staff, and the cancellation of nearly all of our national programs.
The National organization remains committed to monitoring the situation to ensure the health and safety of our collegians and alumnae. With that in mind, allow me to briefly share some of the steps we have taken to respond to the impact of COVID-19:
- The National Headquarters and Capital Corporation have assembled resources to support the work of local house corporations as they manage closures at our host institutions.
- Though our Leadership Consultants can no longer travel to our chapters, the chapter services team has redirected their efforts so we can support our chapters virtually.
- We have assembled resources on our website to help ease our transition into this temporary norm, including specific support for collegians and volunteers.
- SDT will host some of our 2020 Convention virtually, given that we are unable to meet in person in June. We hope to use this new platform to further engage our sisters and continue to conduct the work of the Society.
I want to express my gratitude to the Sigma Delta Tau Foundation for hosting a virtual hangout on Facebook this week, in honor of Founders Day. To all those who took time to join the social media conversations, and to those who showed their support for the Foundation during the Founders Day of Giving, I thank you.
It is easy to become overwhelmed by the changes in our everyday lives and uncertainty of the foreseeable future. Virtual learning, working from home, and social distancing can increase feelings of loneliness. However, there are a myriad of platforms to connect us such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Free Conference Call, among others. I invite you to stay connected and reach out to sisters, family and friends. If you haven’t already, please connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
In difficult times, it is humbling to see how humanity is able to rise to the occasion. Despite the circumstances, we are witnessing neighbors helping the elderly and most vulnerable, children finding ways to express positive messages for others, and families maximizing their time spent together. For SDT, I have been inspired by the ways our collegians and alumnae have remained connected to one another in innovative ways, leaning into our bonds of sisterhood. I know we are all especially grateful for the bravery of our first responders, medical professionals, and service-oriented employees who continue to work on our behalf. Although the world feels very different today than it did before the pandemic, our sorority value of Connection is very much alive. Our bond of sisterhood is vital for these very moments, providing all of us with the support to strengthen our community and navigate this challenging time together.
Please take care of yourself and each other,
Margaux Manley Lima
March 16, 2020
COVID-19 Information for House Corporations
Dear House Corporation Leaders,
As we all work together to determine the best way forward as an organization in light of the novel coronavirus precautions being taken across North America, we want to continue to provide information related to the impact on your facilities.
With our host institutions shifting to online formats ranging from a few weeks to the remainder of the academic year, we are sure you have been inundated with questions from your members, staff, and parents. Please continue to work with your entire house corporation board, including the collegians, to determine the best course of action for your facility regarding access and closure. To further provide guidance through these evolving events, we’ve addressed a few items some of your house corporations have posed over the past few days.
Please note that each chapter has a unique housing and all chapter facilities are different. As this situation is constantly evolving and no two circumstances are the same, we will continue to do our best to provide general guidance as information becomes available. Additional resources can be found on the Sigma Delta Tau homepage, where we have also included a link at the bottom of this email where you can submit individual questions to our housing team.
Protective Measures and General Practices
- Social Distancing – Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible. Source: Center for Disease Control
- Parent Communications – As can be expected for your members to be curious about the status of the house, parents are just as likely to reach out directly. If you have a communication medium to communicate to parents directly, it may be beneficial to tailor a message to them on the steps you are taking to close the facility. If you do not have this direct access to parents, we recommend advising your members to share the correspondence to their parents as well. It is to be expected that parents will still contact you individually, but we ask patience from both parties, as we are all trying to navigate the situation as best as possible.
- House Access — Currently if your members need to access the facility the best course of action would be to arrange a set time(s) for residents to return for their items. This may require a sign-up sheet or coordination with chapter leadership to limit the number of members in the facility at a given time. This would allow for it to be structured and organized, and allow observance of social distancing recommendations if possible. If there are any specific members who are unable to return during the windows you arrange, then it’d be up to your discretion, and any onsite staff availability, who you’d like to address their needs. If your budget permits, wiping down common surfaces between each group and outsourcing a ‘deep clean’ of your facility once fully closed is also recommended.
- In your communication to membership – members who may be symptomatic or returning from abroad that want to collect belongings, the expectation is they are following recommended CDC protocols in relation to self-quarantine, and refrain from returning to the facility, instead making alternative arrangements. *
- Displaced Students – During these unique events we want to be mindful of the spectrum of individual member situations surrounding this. While it is understood that you are busy focusing on the overall operations of your facility, please work with your entire corporation, volunteers, and chapter leadership to address any individual concerns of being displaced due to the interruption of their standard campus experience. Currently the general best recommendation is to consult your institution’s university housing and/or student affairs departments to assist students who need assistance finding alternative accommodations and limit any further disruption to their studies.
- Refunds/Room & Board — Since each house and campus situation is unique it is recommended to review your current financial capacity and language in your leasing agreements to determine if any sort of prorated rent is warranted and/or feasible. For meal plans, recommendations have been to work with your food service vendor to get a renegotiated rate in your contract, possible redistribution into meals once the house is operational again, or if you would like to provide an injection of funds to the chapter’s operations and/or savings at your discretion. As a corporation – it is highly suggested reviewing your finances and reserve accounts to ensure you are prepared to accommodate an extended closure compared to previous years.
- Non-Exempt Staffing – In regard to hourly employees since many universities are shifting from the interim suspension to closure for the remainder of the academic year, the course of action is again dependent on your corporation’s financial stability. It is up to each house corporation’s discretion if they can or will offer some type of compensation to these employees given the unique circumstance impacting normal operations. We are monitoring the status of the Family First Act (H.R. 6201) to provide additional guidance on this, but currently we advise you to consult any outlined PTO policy, check state and local authorities for support, and review reserves to provide some type of compensation.
- Deep Cleaning – It is recommended to conduct a deep cleaning of your facility once it is no longer occupied. Vendors such as ServPro or ServiceMaster provide these services nationally, but given their bandwidth may be stretched right now, it may be feasible to consult your local property manager or contractor for partners in your area.
- Cleaning Supplies – the CDC advises using products for disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
- Summer Projects – For those of you with any planned or ongoing renovations to your property, if you have not done so already – it is recommended to consult your project manager and partners to update on any adjustment to project timelines so you can plan accordingly.
- Annual Corporation Meetings – We recognize that holding an annual meeting is an expectation of every house corporation. With many campuses going to online instruction and cancelling group meetings due to coronavirus, you may be faced with rescheduling your house corporation annual meeting.
- Re-Opening – The best practice right now is to monitor the situation in relation to your specific campus to determine reopening your facility. If you are able to re-open prior to the end of the year, enact the same attention to house access in order to maintain an orderly process. Consistently communicate with your corporation, staff, and chapter leadership on times and expectations. In the event your campus moves to close the campus operations for the remainder of the semester forcing an early closure for your house, please communicate to your members how the closing procedure work will compare to the typical end of the year process. We recommended remaining as consistent as possible to your standard opening and closing practices, with the incorporation of the observances to social distancing and cleaning. Again, as this situation progresses, we will do our best to communicate additional guidance.
We again want to reiterate that each university and house corporation situation is unique. This information is designed to guide and inform, but please do not hesitate to contact the National Office firstname.lastname@example.org or the housing team email@example.com.
March 16, 2020
COVID-19 Information and Resources
To all National Volunteers:
To assist our collegians and volunteers who are managing scheduling challenges at many of our host colleges and universities, Sigma Delta Tau has assembled a list of resources on our website to help keep everyone informed throughout this rapidly evolving public health event. The safety of our members is of the utmost importance, so we will continue to share updated information as long as the Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the regular operations of our chapters. Advisors should share with their chapter officers the Chapter Engagement Ideas and the Virtual Operations Guide.
If you missed last week’s State of the Sorority, which included information on our response to the Coronavirus, click here to watch the recorded webinar.
March 12, 2020
Coronavirus Update: Housing Information
Dear House Corporation Leaders,
As the coronavirus is currently causing illness around the world, we are seeing the trend that many of your campuses are electing to move to an exclusively online format, and advising students to not return to campus for a predetermined time. These campus decisions are out of concern that illnesses like this can spread quickly among groups; this risk is especially true with members returning from studying abroad programs as well as spring break travel.
In order to assist your communication to members and parents in the event that your campus has taken such action, we are providing a sample template for you to utilize.
Again, as further information becomes available, we will be sure to communicate updates.
If you have any questions or need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact our office.
Director of Housing | Sigma Delta Tau Sorority
714 Adams Street, Carmel, IN 46032
firstname.lastname@example.org | 317.846.7747
March 10, 2020
Dear Chapter Presidents and National Volunteers:
The National Organization continues to closely monitor the impact of COVID-19 or as it is known, Coronavirus. The health and well-being of our members remains a top priority for the organization and as such, we remain committed to providing our chapters and members continued support.
Several of our host institutions have halted normal operations and we anticipate several more will follow. We encourage all chapters and volunteers to stay abreast of your individual institution’s precautions and determine what action should be taken to comply with the institution’s guidelines or directives.
If your institution has discontinued in-person education / gatherings, we encourage you to:
- Communicate a plan of action with your chapter as soon as possible.
- Consider hosting Executive Board and chapter meetings virtually. There are vendors such as Zoom or GoToMeeting that offer free accounts on their basic platforms.
- If your chapter has planned chapter programming such as date functions, formals, philanthropy or sisterhood events, contact venues as soon as possible to see about rescheduling, cancelling, and/or receiving a refund.
- If your chapter is in the middle of the new member process, we encourage you to consider adjusting plans by holding new member sessions virtually and conducting initiation prior to Spring Break, if possible.
- With many institutions closing for the remainder of the semester or for an “undisclosed period of time” following Spring Break, we want to ensure our new members are still properly educated on Sigma Delta Tau but are also initiated prior to the fall semester. We understand this might not be possible for all. Please work together to determine what will be best for your chapter, especially with the thought of continuing to make new members feel welcome, despite any unforeseeable delays in new member education or initiation.
We have been in contact with local house corporations on how to mitigate some of the issues we have seen with women returning home from study abroad programs and will continue to monitor the situation and provide additional resources as they become available.
In addition to the above information, MJ Sorority, the insurance carrier for the organization, has provided a resource of additional information for chapters and volunteers.
Should you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact the National Office at email@example.com for assistance.
March 3, 2020
Information and Resources Regarding Coronavirus and Housing
Dear House Corporation Board Members and Housing Managers,
We’ve received a few questions pertaining to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and our members on campus. Our partners at MJ Insurance have provided the following Risk Awareness Brief that examines what coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we can do to protect our members, volunteers, and employees.
Additionally, with your members preparing to depart for spring break, as well as returning from study aboard programs, please monitor your university’s communication on updates and best practices. If you have any questions, concerns or other travel related inquires – please contact your campus’s health department for specific questions.
We will continue to provide updates as they become necessary. If you have additional questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Housing
Sigma Delta Tau
What is coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Common signs of infection include headache, fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Individuals who are elderly or pregnant, and anyone with preexisting medical conditions are at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from coronaviruses.
How does coronavirus spread?
Although the ongoing outbreak likely resulted from people who were exposed to infected animals, COVID-19 can spread between people through their respiratory secretions, especially when they cough or sneeze. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person most likely occurs among close contacts who are within about 6 feet of each other. It’s unclear at this time if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
The CDC has guidance for sick individuals. We recommend that you contact your campus’s health department for specific questions.
Encourage all members, advisors, and staff to take everyday preventive actions:
- Don’t go out when sick.
- Remain at home until fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicines.
- Seek immediate medical care if symptoms become more severe, e.g., high fever or difficulty breathing.
- Use “respiratory etiquette.”
- Cover cough with a tissue or sleeve. See CDC’s Cover Your Cough page for multilingual posters and flyers, posted at the bottom of webpage.
- Provide adequate supplies within easy reach, including tissues and no-touch trash cans.
- Wash hands frequently.
- Encourage hand washing by students and staff through education, scheduled time for hand-washing, and the provision of adequate supplies.
- Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces.
- Separate sick students and staff from others until they can go home. When feasible, identify a “sick room” through which others do not regularly pass.
- Encourage flu vaccine for those who haven’t had it this season to reduce illnesses and absences on campus (but won’t prevent coronavirus illnesses).
A note about face masks: face masks are most useful for preventing disease spread when they are worn by people who have symptoms. This is why people are asked to wear a mask at doctors’ offices and hospitals if they are coughing or sneezing.
Source: California Department of Public Health
Spanish resources from the CDC
Printable resources from the CDC to post in the chapter house
Review your emergency preparedness protocol. Here is a sample crisis plan template from MJ Insurance.