One thing that’s making it particularly confusing for chapters is that our members are not generally in a high-risk group, unless they have other medical conditions.
Many of the actions being taken by the government are to protect those who ARE in high-risk groups — particularly the elderly and immune compromised. It’s also to protect the overall health care system so it will be able to effectively meet all the normal demands on it, while also helping those high risk patients.
By slowing down the spread of the disease, it protects the emergency rooms and ICU’s in hospitals, so beds are open when people need them. If we all get COVID-19 (coronavirus) at the same time — even though the percentage of people who might need the hospital may be small, the overall number of those needing the hospital will be too many. People who need help would have to be turned away. That’s what these efforts are trying to prevent. We all want the services to be there if we need them.
So, what’s a MOMS Club chapter to do? Is it ok to get together or not? What should your chapter do? What should your chapter not do?
Because the situation is very fluid and very different across the country, it’s hard for us to give a one-advice-fits-all directive, so what we are suggesting is:
1) Listen to your local public health department. They will know the current conditions and risks in your area.
2) Each member should do what’s right for her and her family. While the risk of serious complications from this illness are low for most of our members’ age-range, every family’s medical situation is different. Some people may be more affected than others, or may be living in close contact with higher risk people (grandparents or others with medical conditions).
Each member should do what is right for her family. Even if most of the members feel safe getting together for a playgroup or activity, that doesn’t mean that all members will be safe doing so, and everyone should be respectful of each other’s individual decisions.
3) While we have not heard that COVID-19 is implicated in pregnancy problems, one of its symptoms can be a very high fever. High fevers can be a problem for pregnancies. We suggest that pregnant mothers, or those who are trying to become pregnant (because you might have succeeded), not attend group activities, because of the possibility of a high fever if they catch it. We are not medical professionals, and we are not banning pregnant mothers from events. We are suggesting that all pregnant mothers and those who are trying to become pregnant consult their doctors if they are considering attending a group activity.
4) Every chapter should have a behavior guidelines already in place that specifies that sick mothers or children should not attend chapter events. Remind your members of this. If your chapter does not have a behavior guidelines that includes an illness policy, create one.
5) Chapters are allowed to decide to not meet, and they may decide to suspend playgroups and other activities at this time. A chapter definitely should NOT meet or have playgroups/activities, if the public health department in their area says that public gatherings should not happen.
6) Because this is a health situation, if a chapter decides to not meet, but needs to vote on something, the chapter can set up the discussion and voting online. The chapter can choose the method, but any discussion MUST be kept cordial and positive in nature. For example, you can discuss what should be in a behavior guideline or illness policy without disparaging others and their ideas. The end decision is the final tally of the vote. If a member is not online, they can vote by telephone or text. All effort should be made for any voting to be civil, and for the experience to be positive for everyone participating.
7) Since chapter elections are coming up, chapters may move their election process online. If you have a Facebook or other online interface, you can utilize that for this process, but do include a method for participating that is not online for those who are not on Facebook or another portal. See the chapter manual for an outline of the election process and try to follow the basics as closely as possible so it is fair for everyone.
8) Chapters may want to set up skype or other online versions of their normal activities. For activities like a book group, you can do this pretty easily. Other types of activities will have to be adapted creatively.
9) Remember the kids if you’re cloistered at home… they may miss their playgroup friends. They might also like to skype or facetime their buddies — a very short time waving to their familiar friends, and (if they’re old enough) talking to them, might break up some of that cabin fever and need for attention from you.
10) As more schools and gatherings are being cancelled, let’s share ideas for how to keep the kids busy and keep our sanity at the same time. Send your ideas, links to your demonstrations on YouTube and pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org
so we can benefit from the energy of our moms across the country. (Easy kids crafts, anyone? What about recipes? Book suggestions for moms? Videos or activities for kids? Ideas??? You know you have ‘m — share ‘m!) We’ll post the best to our Facebook page and website. If you’re not connecting with us on Facebook already, follow us on Facebook now.
If we keep things positive and with a healthy sense of humor, we’ll get through this. It’s not the first time schools have been cancelled and it’s not the first time there have been health concerns in communities. It’s just been a very long time, and is a new experience for many of us. If we support each other, we’ll come out stronger and with a lot of great ideas for any snow/earthquake/other school closure days in the future.
We may not be able to GET together, but we’re all in this together! Share your ideas, how you’re doing and ways your chapter is moving forward, even if you can’t physically get together.
MOMS Club Love,
Mary B. James
Founder and Chairman
International MOMS Club