In March of this year, I directed that all chapters who chose to have chapter meetings between March 17, 2020 and June 1, 2020 only do so by teleconferencing or video conferencing. Additionally, I directed that all other fraternally-related gatherings of more than 10 people, scheduled to occur before June 1, 2020 be postponed or cancelled. This included community forums and programs, social events, and others. All gatherings of less than 10 people were to give consideration to postponement unless it could be assured that social distancing of at least 6 feet could be maintained between participants, that messaging could be provided around ill persons not attending, and that there could be adequate hand washing/sanitizing facilities. If there was what the CDC considered to be substantial spread of COVID-19 in your community or the community of the event you were considering, you were directed to cancel fraternity- related events of any size. I stated that we would revisit these requirements the last week of May 2020 as that directive was in line with that of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at that time and we expected more guidance from them in the near future.
This is an update to those directives. I want to thank some of the COVID-19 experts in our fraternity for their wise counsel during this time. These brothers are: Delon Brennen, MD, International Medical and Health Initiatives Chairman, Jedan Phillips, M.D., International Medical and Health Initiatives Vice Chairman, Keith Boykin, M.D., Cedric Guyton, Pharm. D., Wonzie Gardner, and Reginald Vance, Ph.D. Although the pandemic continues and there is no cure, no effective treatment, and no vaccine for COVID-19, all 50 states have either reopened or are reopening soon. As the country opens up, Omega should strategically begin to resume service activities. In conducting these service activities, it is very important to make sure appropriate social distancing can be achieved, to make sure appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available to all involved, and to ensure there are ample amounts of hand washing stations and/or hand sanitizer in place for all to use frequently. Brothers should wear masks in public and in small and large groups of people. With adherence to the above, small face-to-face programs are feasible. Food drives and PPE drives can be done with masks and gloves. If we are serving food, then gloves should also be worn by all those providing this service. Fatherhood and mentoring initiatives can be done with proper PPE for brothers and mentees. Also, as it relates to mentoring activities, pre-activity planning should be done. Meaning, participants should be contacted beforehand to ensure no one is sick, including the brothers participating. Size limits for group gatherings in public and private settings have varied widely over the past week. Per our experts, face-to-face groups over fifty people are going to be very difficult to manage because we still have to practice social distancing within the group and the more people, the more difficult it is to enforce. This would apply to chapter meetings and memorial services as well. Small chapters might be able to conduct chapter meetings that meet the aforementioned requirements. However, large chapters will not be able to do so. Chapters should employ some ingenuity in using a combination of an in- person and virtual chapter meeting as we’ve had some brothers who virtually attended chapter meetings recently who historically didn’t attend regularly due to advanced age, health, and mobility issues. For face-to-face chapter meetings and memorial services, brothers should wear masks, practice social distancing, and have access to ample hand washing stations and/or hand sanitizer. Chapters should still provide messaging that any individual who is ill should not participate in any face-to-face chapter meetings or events. We will follow the laws and directives given from government officials in our respective cities and communities as it relates to COVID-19. For any events you are planning, you should ask any questions you have, get approval from your district representative, and follow your SEC submission process in your district.
The times in which we are living demand the leadership, the interventions, the resources, the service work, and the touch of the men of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. The activities we do to support our youth in particular have never been more important than now. As we institute these protocols everywhere during this pandemic, first and foremost, it is paramount that we protect the participants AND the brotherhood. If we mandate brothers wear masks, it must be masks for all. We must comply and understand that if participants are unable to be guaranteed the social distancing of 6 feet during the majority of the activity, then the activity cannot be sanctioned by any organ of our fraternity. While we Uplift, we must also avoid harming others.
Lastly, check in with brothers sixty-five years of age and older and brothers with compromised immune systems. Assist with grocery shopping if needed. Food banks need money, food, and volunteers. Hospitals need face masks, hand sanitizer, and more. Our communities need us. Give to Omega Charities, www.omegacharities.org. Volunteer remotely/virtually at: https://alone.ie/what-we-do/befriending/ or https://www.icouldbe.org/standard/public/gi_index.asp#volunteer or https://www.crisistextline.org/become-a-volunteer/. Let’s do what we do best. That is to serve others. Muhammad Ali once said the service you do for others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth. Maya Angelou said when you get, give. When you learn, teach.
David E. Marion, Ph.D. Grand Basileus