From the SANP Board

To Meet or not to Meet. That is the Question!

by Kristina Plass for the SANP Board of Directors

August 2021--It’s been a long time since the monthly meetings of SANP have been held in person. The effects of COVID-19 continue to have a significant impact on East Tennessee, making the decision to return to in-person meetings difficult. The SANP Board of Directors deeply appreciates those 85 members who took a few moments to complete the recent poll and offer valuable insight on what they need and want at this time. Every comment was read, valued, and discussed by the Board at this month’s meeting.

It comes as no surprise that member preferences were varied, with significant numbers expressing either no reservation about a return to meeting in person or qualifying that opinion with a desire for attendees to be vaccinated or masked. Other respondents expressed strong feelings about not meeting in person just yet. Like the membership, the Board of Directors was also divided on the topic of meeting in person and struggled to come up with a plan that meets the needs of the organization as a whole. This is a challenging time, especially since the incidence and severity of COVID-19 in our area has increased since the poll was issued. Likewise, CDC recommendations have also changed, reflecting a heightened concern about the spread of the Delta variant, even among those vaccinated.

Taking all these factors into consideration, the Board has proposed that a compromise plan be implemented beginning with the August meeting and reevaluated at each subsequent Board meeting until COVID-19 is no longer a concern. The plan is as follows:

SANP will meet in person in our usual space in the Watershed Building at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, at 7 pm. Our meeting room is large with ample space for seating to be socially distanced. Those choosing to attend in person are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in compliance with CDC recommendations and as a courtesy to other members of the club.

If you plan to attend in person and wish to be socially distanced from your neighbors, please sit in the section of the auditorium closest to the entrance, beginning in the front. Sheets of paper may be placed in surrounding seats to provide the distance you prefer. In addition, sanitary wipes will be placed on the stage in front of this section for your use in sanitizing the chairs if desired. At the end of the meeting, people sitting in this section can leave first.

The August meeting will also be streamed live via Zoom for those members who prefer to participate remotely. Those choosing this option will be able to hear the presenter and see the visuals but will be muted while the presenter is speaking. During the question and answer periods, remote attendees will be able to speak with the presenter and be heard by the in-person attendees as well. The chat feature will also be available for questions and comments for the presenter. A moderator will assist in getting the chat questions from remote viewers to the presenter. The Zoom link will be emailed on Sunday, August 29, to all club members and to any visitors who register.

We ask your patience as members of the Board work through the challenges of hosting a meeting in-person and remotely at the same time. There are sure to be some issues that come up. We also ask members to be thoughtful in deciding to attend in-person. If there is a possibility you may have been exposed to a COVID-positive person, we respectfully ask that you join the remote audience for this meeting.

By attending the SANP meeting in person, each member and guest voluntarily assumes all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agrees to release SANP from any liability related to such exposure regardless of any action or inaction by SANP, the Board of Directors, another member or guest, and the employees, volunteers, and members of Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church.

Thank you for your support and for helping keep each other safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing many of you at our next meeting, either remotely or in person!

Brad Cottrell has created a diagram showing the configuration that will be used for our hybrid meetings. Check out this PDF for details.

Southern Appalachian Nature Photographers is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization,
located near the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee. 
Mailing address: 1143 Oak Ridge Turnpike, Ste 107A/231, Oak Ridge, TN 37830

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