SigEp brotherhood has never been more important than in the unprecedented time we are in. While the academic year ahead brings some uncertainty and unique challenges, one thing that is certain is that we will all — undergraduates, alumni, volunteers, Headquarters staff, and campus partners — work closely together to support and sustain the success of our chapters.
As you prepare to re-open your SigEp facility, welcome members back to campus, and support our undergraduate brothers in the year ahead, we wanted to share key recommendations and guidance that will help in the planning and implementation of enhanced health and safety practices. These recommendations are based on CDC guidance and counsel from our insurance broker Holmes Murphy.
The short of it – focus on three keys to prevent the spread of COVID-19:
1. Social distancing
3. Members and guests wearing a mask
This page provides ideas and recommendations for consideration on how to implement these strategies across numerous areas.
Additionally, click here to read how our SigEp Headquarters staff will support your chapter this year, prioritizing recruitment, the membership experience, leadership training and volunteer support. Given the circumstances, chapter support and service will be provided virtually, at least initially. We have organized the staff with the flexibility to provide in-person support when circumstances improve to support travel and large-group interaction.
We are here to support you and your chapter as you prepare for a unique semester, but one full of brotherhood. Please reach out with questions, concerns or to talk through how these recommendations can best be implemented with your chapter.
Members and their parents are eager to learn how they will be supported by SigEp in the year ahead, especially what measures will be in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s critical that the AVC and chapter communicate plans to members and parents prior to move-in, as well as provide updates as needed.
Additionally, especially with members – and residents – it’s critical to impress that “we are all in this together” to ensure a safe environment. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 largely depends on individual members’ willingness to take the proper precautions. It will take cooperation and accountability to keep campuses open and to maximize the SigEp experience. And after all, what is brotherly love if not doing the things that will best help take care of each other and our community.
As move-in approaches, be sure to review how expected occupancy impacts the facility finances. Here is a sample proforma (shared with AVCs in March for scenario planning).
If you’re expecting a significant reduction in occupancy or believe the AVC could be unable to fulfill its debt service payments, reach out to SigEp National Housing, so we can help as you consider your options. We are here to help your AVC, even if your property is not in the SENH Property Management Program.
Contact Ben Hutto, SENH Managing Director at (804) 310-4934, email@example.com.
As you prepare for students to return to campus, use this checklist to help ensure smooth operation of the property, taking the necessary precautions and considerations into account.
Additionally, reach out to the campus Fraternity & Sorority Life Office to make sure you are aware of any recommendations, guidelines or restrictions the university has announced.
These will likely include:
- A commitment for students and employees to engage in practices that prevent the spread of coronavirus (example).
- Protocols for reporting symptoms, testing and contact tracing.
- Guidelines for in-person events and programs.
- Guidance from local health professionals.
Holmes Murphy also created this sample lease addendum to help protect property owners from potential liability related to COVID-19. You should consult with a local attorney before executing an addendum.
Throughout move-in, aim to minimize traffic in narrow hallways/stairwells. Consider these recommendations as you plan for move-in:
- Schedule move-in over multiple days with members scheduling a specific time.
- No more than one friend/family member should assist each member with move-in and unpacking, and these helpers should wear face coverings.
- Furniture in rooms should be moved prior to move-in and arranged for maximum social distancing.
- Designate a path for entrance/exit/movement through the house.
Keeping your SigEp home clean and having the necessary materials and supplies on-hand are critical:
- Consider using a professional service to clean the facility.
- Direct the cleaning crew to:
- Disinfect frequently touched, hard-surface areas each time they visit the facility, including counters, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, etc.
- Fully stock soap and paper products (tissues, paper towels, toilet paper, etc.), and ensure you have enough supplies on hand for an additional two-week period.
- Purchase adequate stockpiles of critical supplies: disposable masks, disinfectant, hand sanitizer stations and refills, garbage bags, regular cleaning supplies, disposable gloves, kitchen and food preparation and serving utensils.
- Make disinfectant products available in common spaces for members to use, and encourage people to be extra vigilant about cleaning up after themselves and wiping down areas where they have just eaten or may have touched a surface.
- Place hand-sanitizing stations and extra facemasks near entrances to the house and in common spaces.
- Replace all filters prior to move-in.
Educate and reinforce with members that cleaning is important, but no amount of cleaning will substitute for members not taking the proper precautions, like social distancing, wearing masks, cleaning surfaces and washing their hands.
Develop a plan for if a resident tests positive for COVID-19:
- Follow your university’s protocol for reporting to campus administration or local health officials.
- The individual should self-isolate. If the member does not live in a single-room, do you have the ability to provide a “sick room” with a separate bathroom for the individual? Is there a safer alternative (ex. member returns home or goes to university-provided quarantine space)?
- If a member tests positive for COVID-19, contact SigEp’s Member Safety Director Kathy Johnston immediately (firstname.lastname@example.org), so she can work with the university to help your chapter navigate the situation.
- SigEp HQ will also assist – as needed – to communicate with those who might have been exposed.
We recommend that when possible, beds are placed at least six feet apart, as social distancing reduces the spread of COVID-19. Here’s a visual guide that illustrates these recommended patterns:
- When beds are next to each other, advise members to sleep head-to-toe.
- When beds are across from each other, advise members to sleep toe-to-toe.
- If it’s not possible to separate beds, by six feet, consider placing partitions (i.e. stringing plastic sheeting) between beds and advise members to sleep head-to-toe.
- In bunked beds, advise members to sleep head-to-toe.
- In cold dorms, stagger beds and advise members to sleep head-to-toe.
Additionally, assess and position furniture in common areas to maximize social distancing. Posting a “capacity” in each common space further encourages this CDC-recommended practice.
While meals are times when brothers come together, practicing social distancing and distributing food in a way that limits contact can further prevent the spread of COVID-19:
- Space dining room furniture and limit capacity to encourage social distancing.
- Stagger meal times for residents and members (for example: two dinner shifts with a cleaning period in between).
- Adapt house rules for members to allow anyone with symptoms or who have been exposed to COVID to (be delivered their meal) and eat in their rooms.
- Eliminate buffet lines, shared utensils and/or common-source food.
- Consider serving individual packaged grab-and-go meals.
- Educate any food service staff on these FDA protocols.
Assign specific bathrooms based on room locations and consider staggering times for showering and grooming to encourage distancing. Consider these recommendations to focus on cleanliness:
- Remove cubbies, and have members store their toiletries in their rooms.
- Utilize paper towels instead of hand dryers.
- Stock supplies for members to wipe down surfaces after each use.
- To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in common areas.
- Check to see if your university is providing students with masks as they return to school – many are.
Visitation abilities may be limited based on local and state guidelines. Work with chapter leaders to co-create a health screening process for visitors and guests, and a guest policy that will allow the chapter to hold members accountable:
- Require outside visitors to wear a mask while in the facility or attending chapter activities.
- Times that guests are allowed in the chapter facility.
- Locations in the building that guests are allowed.
- Consider using one entry point for any guests, and place a sign-in sheet at each entry-way for non-members to sign-in each time they enter.
- Purchase and use No-Contact Infrared Thermometers (and train members on use) to screen visitors upon entry for elevated temperatures.
The SigEp experience brings together recruitment, the Balanced Man Program, SigEp Learning Community events, SigEp leadership development programs, service projects, social activities, and brotherhood. While things might look differently this fall, each brother can and will have a rich fraternity experience.
Yes, based on health and safety protocols, some chapter programs and events will likely happen in new environments – outdoor or virtually – and others will follow new campus procedures. But connection and brotherhood has never been more important, so use these recommendations to safely host events and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Contact your university to learn the current policy for holding activities and events. This likely will include guidance from local health officials, as well as protocols for social distancing, wearing face coverings, registering the event, and attendance numbers.
- Note: protocols might change throughout the semester based on how the virus spreads and what is learned about its mitigation.
- When possible, gather virtually or outdoors, following university guidelines.
- When working with a third-party venue, make sure to review university/local protocols for events, as well as the relevant recommendations in this communication about social distancing, face coverings, food service, etc. Review the contract closely using these tips.
- Consider limiting attendees to only members, or one guest per member to ensure the event is by invitation-only.
- Communicate expectations for safety in advance with all attendees, like wearing a mask and social distancing. Ask attendees to take their temperatures prior to attending the event.
- Note: These recommendations related to preventing the spread of COVID-19 are in addition to SigEp’s and your campus’ standard risk management policies.