Note: March 19th Meeting has been cancelled and the April Volunteer Fair has been postponed date TBD.

The following information was sent out via email to SAVMA Members.

Preparing Your Volunteer Program for COVID-19

From the Southern Arizona Volunteer Management Association

While there are still many unknowns about COVID-19 and how it will affect our communities in Southern Arizona it is certain it already has. It is important to note that our volunteer communities are already being impacted and we want to be sure you know where to get resources.

  1. Find out if your organization has a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) and if it currently aligns with the guidance being issued from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Become familiar with the plan and how volunteers are utilized throughout this plan. If volunteers are not included, find and why and advocate for their inclusion where appropriate.
  2. Following the guidance of the CDC and advice safe health practices regarding COVID-19.
    1. Stay home if you are sick. Individuals who arrive on site with symptoms will be sent home. Outline a clear system for getting in touch with you/the organization when cancelling a shift.
    2. Please take all necessary precautions if you are immunocompromised, or live with/care for someone who is immunocompromised. We support your decisions, including and up to a decision to temporarily suspend your own volunteering during this uncertain time. Again, outline a clear system for communicating with you/the organization.
    3. We are implementing a no handshake policy at our organization while COVID-19 remains a threat. Please do not shake hands with staff, volunteers or clients. We recommend waving or verbally greeting people instead.
    4. Please thoroughly and frequently wash your hands, and follow other guidance provided by the CDC around disease containment.
    5. Offer additional information on if and how your organization’s services will be impacted as it becomes available.
  3. Prioritize volunteer and client safety. Know the key requirements for continuing interaction between volunteers and vulnerable clients, take all recommended precautions, including gloves, masks, frequent hand-washing, etc.
  4. Be sure volunteer concerns can be addressed during these restricted access times and that communication documents are updated appropriately for your volunteers in the field as supervisors may change.
  5. As executive orders are issued nationally and by state, workplaces may be closed and remote work may become an option where it wasn’t before.
  6. Plan for a volunteer workforce shortage. Executive orders may impact work schedules, but so could volunteer comfort and personal health risk. Plan to:
    1. Survey volunteers to determine their availability to continue volunteering 1) currently, 2) if schools were to close, 3) if quarantined (only if remote volunteering is possible). For volunteers who have high availability, ask if they would be willing to increase their volunteerism temporarily to help fill gaps (given that they are healthy). Track responses and keep a database/spreadsheet of volunteers who anticipate availability in certain situations.
    2. Work with organizational leaders to prioritize programming/services delivered by volunteers and determine where volunteer workforce should be focused if there is a significant decrease in availability. For example, programs providing food for those experiencing poverty will be higher priority than advocacy or education programs that could be postponed.
  7. Postpone large-scale volunteer events or trainings in the next few months. City of Tucson has already requested events of 50 or more be postponed. Social distancing by avoiding crowds and events helps “flatten the curve” of the virus and helps keep cases within the capacity of our hospital system.
  8. Help counter stigma and discrimination in our community. Engage with stigmatized groups and speak out against negative behaviors. What tools/information/supplies will volunteers need to complete work remotely and what will be the process for submitting it or getting questions answered?
  9. Event Planners may find additional resources here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.html
  10. Resources for Community and Faith Leaders may be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/index.html
  11. Schools, Workplaces & Community Locations resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/index.html

 

Additional resources:

Arizona Department of Health COVID-19 Statistics: https://azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home