How Things Have Changed Since COVID
While healthcare workers and government agencies are at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, the actions of individuals and communities are where the true battle for the virus takes place. In close communities, especially in the more confined areas of condo associations, it has never been more important to actively play a part in preventing the spread of the pandemic.
Community associations have an important role to play in the pandemic. The way in which HOAs and condo associations respond to COVID can play a large part in flattening the curve. It has been a huge shift and it certainly has not been easy, but the landscape of community associations has changed a great deal in the last several months.
Here is how community associations have and will continue to adapt to the pandemic.
At the heart of the board’s duty to the community is the fiduciary responsibility to protect all members’ best interest. No matter what personal opinions or agendas board members or community members may have, the health and safety of the community during the pandemic is the foremost duty of the board.
Meetings and events, including all board meetings should be postponed when possible. If meetings must take place, like elections, budget meetings and other necessary gatherings, they should be remote. Using applications like Zoom, Skype or even conference calls have never been easier to operate. Whatever the board can do to limit or cancel gatherings is critical to flattening the curve.
It is essential that the board be a source of unbiased and up to date information. For this reason we highly recommend that one or more members of the board be in charge of monitoring all updates from the CDC, as well as state and local guidelines. All applicable information can then be communicated to the community via newsletter, email or website. P.S., if you don’t have a website for your community, you should. Now it is more crucial than ever.
More thorough and frequent cleanings are becoming the standard for associations now. Amenities might look much different than they have in the past, with stricter social distancing rules or some amenities like gyms and game rooms, being closed completely. Though there may be pushback from some members, the safety and wellbeing of the community as a whole is the board’s primary fiduciary duty. Implementing new protocols that can help maintain a clean and safe environment are very important in the current climate.
The Community Associations Institute (CAI) has suggested that “Community associations should review or establish an emergency plan in consultation with legal counsel, insurance and risk management experts, and their manager.” Whatever your emergency plan is, it would be in your association’s best interest to consult with an attorney and other qualified counsel to make sure your plan is in full compliance with HOA laws, as well as current pandemic guidelines.
Stopping the spread of the contagion
In the event of someone in your community contracting COVID-19, information and safety protocols must be prioritized. This includes letting the person who has contracted the disease know the proper way to quarantine, as well as letting neighbors know to take extra precautions with a confirmed case in the community. You may not disclose any personal information of the infected, but you can let your community know that a case has been reported so that everyone can take the necessary safeguards.
It’s a new world we’re stepping into. If we can be of any assistance as you navigate the new normal, we offer our counsel.