Re: Ethical Responsibilities of Genealogical Organizations during the Global COVID-19 Pandemic #guidelines #education


On Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 11:21 AM, Sarah L Meyer wrote:
While I did not attend, because of a conflict.  The IAJGS conference last summer was VIRTUAL, as were my actuarial conferences.  I think unless you have personal knowledge of some genealogical in-person conference, this question is moot.

I beg to differ. This question is not moot. 

This is an incredibly important topic in many respects.  Whilst I am based in the UK, I believe that the issues are the same in most countries around the globe.  The issues are certainly not restricted to IAJGS conferences, but apply to all genealogy societies who intend, in the future, to return to in-person events when it is safe to do so; and to all individuals who may wish to attend an in-person event (large or small - genealogy or other)  in the future. 

Covid-19 will be with us a long time, but when the infection levels decline significantly and all who want have been vaccinated and we have better treatments, we shall hopefully reach a point when we can again hold in-person events.  At that point, genealogy societies will have an obligation to let potential attendees know what precautions are going to be taken at each event, and how to find out about the infection levels and other relevant information, so that each person has adequate information on which to base their own personal  attendance decision.  We may not be in a position to restart in-person events just yet, but we have responsibilities to plan and to make information available.

I am on the Council of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and, despite having temporarily moved all our events digital (via Zoom) since mid March 2020, we have already started preparing for the time when we are permitted to meet in-person, and we consider it sufficiently low risk to offer in-person meetings.  No in-person meetings will be completely free of all Covid risks but we can make a big difference in reducing the risks.  By October 2020, the Covid-19 Committee of our Society had already developed a detailed Covid-19 Safety plan and checklist which was then approved by our Council.  When the time is right, and before restarting with any in-person event we shall update this plan.  Communication with potential event attendees will be essential, and we have already a draft document prepared, to be sent to potential event attendees, setting out relevant event details so they can each make their own informed decision on attendance.

For genealogy societies like ours, normally hosting more than 20 in person events each year, and also considering offering to host an international genealogy conference in the future, Jeffrey's comments and suggestions are very useful.

On a slightly different note, I believe that "hybrid events" offering attendees the opportunity for both in-person and remote attendance and participation at the same event, will be a big part of solving the problem of how we can return to in-person genealogy events in the future.

Laurence Harris
London, England

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