March 11, 2020 at 2:10:14 PM CDT
AAUW and the Impact of Coronavirus
Dear AAUW State and Branch Presidents,
Like you, we at AAUW are deeply concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, including the health of our friends, members and supporters in the US and around the world. As you know, the effects from a widespread health issue like the coronavirus can be severely crippling from an economic security standpoint. And, as many of you are evaluating your state/regional conventions and branch/interbranch programming this spring, I know you too are worried about financial sustainability should you need to postpone or cancel.
We in the national AAUW office are taking several precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and with all we engage on behalf of our AAUW mission. As the situation is evolving rapidly, we’ve put in place operational changes to ensure AAUW can continue to move forward on its mission regardless of whether working in our national office, or from home. All of our employees are encouraged to follow CDC recommendations and take precautions which can be effective at helping the spread of the virus, as well as the flu and colds. Information and guidance is available here:
World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Given the heavy season of business travel, AAUW state and regional conventions, we have eliminated non-essential travel, and have given staff discretion to opt out of business travel.
That said, we know this is stressful for all of you, too, as you aim to first and foremost keep our AAUW members safe and healthy, but also proceed with your branch programming and state/regional conventions, whenever feasible. I should note that at this time, at least one state convention has been postponed, and others are evaluating options based on their signed contracts with event space (hotels, etc.). We encourage you to review your contracts and to talk with the managers as they may be willing to postpone or work with you should the need arise. We also recommend you review briefings and information from your local municipal leaders and state leaders as preparedness at a local/regional level may differ based on the spread of the coronavirus. We are also available at AAUW National to discuss your own situation and help provide any guidance we can.
Here at the AAUW national office, we hope to keep everything currently scheduled for April/May/June, but we must work in real time to determine the safest and most prudent decisions to protect the health of our employees, our members and all involved. Should we need to participate in conventions virtually, we will be in close contact about national participation. As you likely have read, several large-scale national and international conferences have already been canceled or postponed (like South by Southwest-SXSW, and UN CSW) and many others are moving to virtual status or are in a holding pattern. Our own National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) is not scheduled until the end of May, but as it takes place on a college campus and as many campuses are opting for virtual instruction through the end of spring, we continue to monitor daily.
As we reflect on our mission at AAUW, it’s also pertinent to think about the impact of the coronavirus for those Americans who can’t afford to take time away from work, get the healthcare that they need, or deal with unexpected childcare challenges. Currently, at least 34 million private sector workers — nearly 1/3 of the workforce — don’t have access to paid sick days. That is simply unacceptable. AAUW has long advocated for policies, like the Healthy Families Act, that protect and support all workers, ensuring that everyone can take care of themselves and their loved ones without the fear of a lost paycheck or retaliation from their boss. But we’re also advocating for real-time solutions to deal with emergency situations, such as the just-introduced Paid Sick Days for Public Health Emergencies and Personal and Family Care Act. These policies are needed now more than ever and AAUW will continue to champion this fight. For women, who often act as primary caregivers, the inability to earn paid sick days can have particularly devastating consequences. No working woman should be forced to make the choice between going to work contagious or missing a paycheck.
These are trying times in more ways than one, but I hope this message is helpful for your planning and a reminder that your AAUW national staff is available and thinking of you.
With best wishes in good health,
Chief Executive Officer
1310 L St. NW, Suite 1000 • Washington, DC 20005