Event and Meeting Guidelines During COVID-19

The CDC, State of Michigan, local Public Health officials, and GVSU health experts offer considerations for event planners in order to enhance the protection of individuals and prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 within our community.  GVSU event planners and university officials can determine, with guidance, how to implement the considerations, making adjustments based on unique needs and circumstances.  

This guidance, initially developed during Summer 2020 by the GVSU Technical Advisory Group for COVID-19 and edited by the GVSU Virus Action Team in early October 2020, is regularly updated based on information from MDHHS, CDC and local public health.

Please Read

Event planners must follow GVSU policies on Lakers Together as well as the Event Guidance provided here.

As the University begins to welcome more of the community back to campus, guidance related to GVSU-related events continues to adapt, while being mindful of the uncertainty and varying conditions of the pandemic. 

EVENTS AND GATHERINGS

Please check with your campus venue about limitations on gathering sizes that will be based on public health orders, local or state guidance, and university policies.  

You must follow the most restrictive guidance.  For example, if GVSU's guidance is more restrictive than a recent Michigan order, then the GVSU guidance should be followed.  Additionally, if any State of Michigan order is more restrictive than GVSU's guidance, then the State of MI order should be followed.  For questions, email virusactionteam@gvsu.edu


Be Prepared to Change on Short Order

Per the CDC, event organizers should continue to assess, based on current conditions, whether to postpone, cancel, or significantly reduce the number of attendees for gatherings. This is a fluid situation to which you must stay vigilant.

CDC Guiding Principles

  • An event or gathering refers to a planned or spontaneous event, indoors or outdoors, with a small number of people participating or a large number of people in attendance such as a community event or gathering, concert, festival, conference, parade, wedding, or sporting event.
  • The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and COVID-19 spreading.
  • The higher the level of community transmission in the area that the gathering is being held, the higher the risk of COVID-19 spreading during a gathering.
  • The size of an event or gathering should be determined based on state, local, territorial or tribal safety laws and regulations.

The risk of COVID-19 spreading at events and gatherings increases as follows:

Source: CDC Considerations for Events and Gatherings

Lowest risk

Virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings.

More risk

Smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).

​​​​​​​Higher risk

Medium-sized in-person gatherings that are adapted to allow individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and with attendees coming from outside the local area.

Highest risk

Large in-person gatherings where it is difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least 6 feet apart and attendees travel from outside the local area.


COVID-19 Continuum Event Matrix

Using the Event Considerations Matrix

First, event considerations are based on the following criteria. 

  1. Amount of spread at GVSU (see Lakers Together Alert Level and Indicators)
  2. Amount of spread in the community (see MI Safe Start Map to determine which risk level we may be in, based on region)
  3. Current State of MI requirements or restrictions
  4. Location of activity: Outdoors or Indoors
  5. Expected attendance: # expected and primary population served (higher-risk or not higher-risk)

Then, event organizers should consider if they can fulfill recommendations for a safer event experience.

Finally, special considerations may be needed. See Special Considerations table for more info.

COVID-19 Continuum Common Terminology and Considerations Based on GVSU Alert Levels

 

Level 0- Near Normal

Level 1- Low Alert

Level 2- Medium Alert

Level 3- High Alert

Level 4- Very High Alert

Definition of Community Spread 

Prevalence of the virus is minimal, and GVSU can safely operate within current recommended guidelines.

Prevalence of the virus is limited, and GVSU can safely operate within current recommended guidelines, except perhaps in isolated situations.

Prevalence of the virus is moderate, with some impact on GVSU systems and resources, but support services, testing and contact tracing capacities are capable to allow continued operations.

Prevalence of the virus has increased to a high level, and operations must be limited.

Prevalence of the virus is very high, and GVSU resources on campus to safely support its students, on campus and faculty and staff are not meeting demand.


Low (GVSU Alert Level 1)

Location of Activity

Expected Attendance

Recommendations

Indoors and Outdoors

Any

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible.
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

*Higher-risk Populations, as defined by the CDC, include people who are: 1) 65 years old and older; 2) People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and weakened immune systems.


Medium (GVSU Alert Level 2)

Location of Activity

Expected Attendance

Recommendations

Indoors and Outdoors

Consult with venue for determining appropriate attendance.

Continue to monitor and adhere to GVSU, local, and state guidance related to limiting size of gatherings.

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event organizers should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible (at least 6 ft for normal activities).
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel. 
  • If attendees are primarily higher-risk populations.*

*Higher-risk Populations, as defined by the CDC, include people who are: 1) 65 years old and older; 2) People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and weakened immune systems.

**Subject to change based on State of MI Executive Orders


High (GVSU Alert Level 3)

Location of Activity

Expected Attendance

Recommendations

Indoors and Outdoors

KIRKHOF CENTER AND COOK-DEWITT CENTER EVENTS

Consult with Event Services to determine any modifications to number of guests permitted

Continue to monitor and adhere to GVSU, local, and state guidance related to limiting size of gathering

 

 

Event may occur but attendance by higher-risk populations should be discouraged and event organizers should:

  • Monitor changes in community spread.
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations.*   
  • Prohibit attendance if sick.
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible (at least 6 ft for normal activities).
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Consider Cancellation:

  • If any of the above recommendations cannot be met.
  • If attendees are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If the event is a large gathering (100+ people), consult venue for specific guidance.
  • Consider the amount of spread in the local community and the communities from where your attendees are likely to travel.

*Higher-risk Populations, as defined by the CDC, include people who are: 1) 65 years old and older; 2) People with certain health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease and weakened immune systems.

**Subject to change based on State or Local Public Health Guidance


Very High (GVSU Risk Level 4 and maybe 3 depending on activity)

Location of Activity

 

Expected Attendance

Recommendations

Outdoors

Any

Cancel Event

Indoors

Any

Cancel Event

Local Public Health to help determine duration and extent of short term cancellations.


Common Considerations

  • Stay informed about the local COVID-19 situation
  • Update and distribute timely and accurate emergency communication information
  • Consider providing refunds to event participants who are unable to attend because they are at high risk and/or provide information on alternative viewing options.
  • Promote messages that discourage people who are sick from attending events.
  • Monitor changes in community spread.
    • If there is an increase in community spread of COVID-19, use the most appropriate event matrix and consider cancellation of the event
  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations*  
    • In any event that is for primarily low-risk populations, event materials should discourage attendance by higher-risk populations
  • Prohibit attendance if sick 
    • Event materials should prohibit those who are sick from attending.   
  • Having hand washing capabilities, hand sanitizers and tissues available.
  • Confirm frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces; no selfservice buffets  
    • Event organizers should develop a plan for cleaning and disinfecting event space before, during and after the event (see “Clean and Disinfect Event Space” below for more)
  • Find ways to create physical space to minimize close contact as much as possible
    • A physical distance of 6 feet should be maintained between event participants as much as possible
  • Follow university face coverings protocol.

Identify and address potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to event staff and participants. 

Information you share should be easily understood by everyone attending the events. Learn more about reaching people of diverse languages and cultures by visiting: Know Your Audience. You also can learn more about communicating to staff in a crisis at: Crisis Communications Plan

Event materials should also:

  • Discourage attendance by higher-risk populations for their safety
  • Prohibit attendance if sick

Encourage staff and attendees to take everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread. 

  • Cleaning your hands often.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home when you are sick.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces

For more, visit CDC.

Create an emergency plan to protect the health of your staff, attendees, and the local community.  This planning should include:

  • Encouraging staff and attendees to stay home if sick. 
  • Developing flexible refund policies for attendees. 
  • Providing supplies for attendees and staff that can be used to help prevent the spread of germs. 
  • Consulting local public health officials about your event.

Source: FAQs for Event Organizers & Individuals

Implement practices of worker health and hygiene. Event staff (workers and volunteers) must diligently address the health risks of working in the close confines of many event spaces. Follow HR and OSHA Guidelines for employee safety.

Identify a space that can be used to isolate staff or participants who become ill at the event.

If a staff member or attendee becomes sick at your event, separate them from others as soon as possible and until they can go home. Provide them with clean, disposable face masks to wear, if available. If not available, provide them with a tissue or some other way to cover their coughs and sneezes. If needed, contact emergency services for those who need emergency care. Public transportation, shared rides, and taxis should be avoided for sick persons.

Be sure to contact your supervisor and follow university protocols regarding the possible case of COVID-19 at your event and how to communicate with staff and attendees about possible exposure to the virus.

CDC has guidance for cleaning and disinfecting rooms and areas where a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 has visited. See Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations.


Special Considerations (After going through the above event matrix)

Goal is to maintain healthy operations.

Consider the following strategies:

  • Protections for People at Higher Risk for Severe Illness from COVID-19
    • Offer options for individuals at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 (risk increases with age, and people of any age with certain medical conditions are at higher risk), such as virtual opportunities.
    • Limit participation to people who live in the local geographic area (e.g., community, city, town, or county) to reduce risk of spread from areas with higher levels of COVID-19.
  • Regulatory Awareness
    • Be aware of state or local regulatory agency policies related to group gatherings to determine if events can be held.
  • Identifying Small Groups and Keeping them Together (Cohorting)
    • Keep people together in small groups with dedicated staff, and make sure that each group of people and staff avoid mixing with other groups as much as possible. 
  • Staggered Scheduling
    • Stagger arrival and drop-off times or locations by cohort (group) or put in place other protocols to limit contact between groups and others as much as possible.
  • Gatherings, Spectators, and Travel
    • Avoid group events, such as games, competitions, or social gatherings, where spacing of at least 6 feet between people cannot be maintained.
    • Limit any nonessential visitors, spectators, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible – especially with individuals not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, or county).
    • Avoid activities and events such as off-site competitions or excursions (e.g., watching a professional team compete).
  • Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact
    • Designate a program staff person to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All participants should know who this person is and how to contact them.
  • Communication Systems
    • Put systems in place for:
      • Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, having participants self-report they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days in accordance with health information sharing regulations for COVID-19
      • Notifying stakeholders about restrictions in place to limit COVID-19 exposure (e.g., limited hours of operation).
  • Leave (Time Off) Policies
  • Back-up Staffing Plan
    • Monitor absenteeism of staff, cross-train staff, and create a roster of trained back-up personnel.
  • Staff Training
    • Train staff on all safety protocols.
    • Conduct training virtually, or ensure that social distancing is maintained during training.
  • Recognize Signs and Symptoms
    • If feasible, conduct daily health checks (e.g., symptom checking) of staff and participants safely and respectfully, and in accordance with any applicable privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations.
    • Youth sports program administrators may use examples of screening methods found in CDC’s supplemental Guidance for Child Care Programs that Remain Open as a guide for screening children, and CDC’s General Business FAQs for screening staff.
  • Sharing Facilities
    • Encourage any organizations that share facilities to also follow these considerations.
  • Support Coping and Resilience
    • Consider posting signs for the national distress hotline:/1-800-985-5990, or text/TalkWithUs/to 66746

Reduce the Risk
Pursue options to convene sporting events and participate in sports activities in ways that reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to players, families, coaches, and communities.  

Designated COVID-19 Point of Contact
Designate an administrator or office to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All students, faculty and staff should know who this person is and how to contact them.

Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/large-events/mass-gatherings-ready-for-covid-19.htm

                   https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/colleges-universities/considerations.html

If there is substantial spread of COVID-19 in the community, CDC recommends cancelling events of any size. 
In addition to the above considerations, adhere to CDC guidance, State and County Public Health Guidance.

It is important that GVSU conducts itself much like other organizations as it pertains to youth programs and camps, following state COVID orders, LARA guidance  and CDC guidance.  Please review these three weblinks as you are planning youth programs and camps.  Additionally, it is critical youth program/camp directors understand MIOSHA rules.  See LARA overview for camp operations guidance. 

All camp directors will be responsible for developing communications for campers with all of the information listed below as appropriate for your camp.  The CDC provides a Camp Planning Tool as a good reference.

GVSU Required Documentation:

Expected COVID mitigation steps taken by Youth Program/Camp Director:

  • Daily review of symptoms and personal hygiene reminders with all campers
  • Risk-mitigation protocols document provided to all campers before the first day
    • Campers placed in cohorts/teams (staff should keep record to provide contract tracing staff if needed)
    • Physical distancing protocols (meals/housing/drop off/pick up)
    • Check In/Check Out procedures
      • Physically distanced drop off/pick up
      • Non-contact registration or check in/check out socially distanced
    • Face Coverings requirements per GVSU face covering policy 
    • Information on where to obtain a Coronavirus - Test (michigan.gov)
    • Self Assessment/Symptom monitoring protocols
      • Required daily by all campers and camp staff both day and overnight
        • Participants –  Visitor Self-Assessment or pre-approved screening protocol
        • Camp Staff – GVSU Visitor Assessment or GVSU Employee/Student Self Assessment– green heart shown to camp director daily
        • Daily COVID review with all campers about symptoms and reporting process
        • First Aid trained staff available at all camps that will assist in directing symptomatic participant to isolation areas to await parent/guardian pick up
    • Symptomatic camper protocols
      • Isolation space identified for every camp.
      • Meals coordinated for isolated individual with Campus Dining if needed
      • Day camps: Isolation space at venue to separate symptomatic individual from rest of campers as they await parent/guardian pick up
      • Supervision of isolated individual until picked up per Minors on Campus policy
      • Upon pick up, parent/guardian will be given document that outlines what they should do. This document should contain the following. Please also prepare an email that can follow as well.
        • Please seek medical advice from your doctor regarding the symptoms of your child.
        • If your child tests positive for COVID, please contact the following:
          • Your local Health Department
          • Camp Director (your information here)
    • Positive COVID case protocols
      • If you are contacted directly regarding a positive case, please report case to covidassessment@gvsu.edu
      • Report any positive tests or if a sick camper that you sent home notifies you of being COVID positive.
      • Parent should be advised to contact their local health department and the camp director
      • The camp director will provide the camper’s name and contact information along with cohort information to covidassessment@gvsu.edu.  Provide information such as:
        • When was the staff/camper in attendance?
        • Who is the staff/camper near (less than six feet) throughout the day?
        • Has there been adequate physical distancing throughout the day?
        • Are there others at the camp that live with the staff or camper in the same household?
        • When are face masks worn in the camp?

Meal considerations:

  • Small groups (cohorting) and socially distanced is best.  For example, groups of 6 campers, seated 6 feet apart, no intermingling (indoor or outdoor)
  • Staggered meal times as necessary based on campus dining capacity limits
  • Meals not administered by GVSU dining facilities must be pre-packaged or boxed

Cleaning Protocols

  • Each camp director will ensure work order is completed for space cleaning as appropriate for camp and also for isolation space if needed for residential camp.
  • All shared equipment must be sanitized daily

Spectators

  • Spectators allowed according to the Event Matrix and venue limitations
  • Will be required to show green heart via GV Visitor Self-Assessment
  • Facemasks requirement to follow GVSU policy
  • Social distancing is preferred between family units

Capacity: Refer to Event Matrix and State Guidance found above

For more comprehensive info and guidance

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/youth-sports.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/summer-camps.html

Guidelines for Camp Operations During COVID-19 (michigan.gov)