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May 15, 2020
COVID-19 General Information
Symptoms, Cases and Interventions
Mental Health, Coping and Discrimination
Resources for Print
What is COVID-19?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov), on February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.
There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. The name of this disease was selected following the World Health Organization (WHO) best practice external icon for naming of new human infectious diseases.
How can I protect myself?
Visit the COVID-19 Prevention and Treatment page to learn about how to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses, like COVID-19.
FALL 2021 FALL MASK MANDATE FAQs
At Gamma Phi Beta, we are doing our best to provide ongoing guidance and guardrails for our chapters to reduce risk of COVID-19 to our members and prioritize their health and wellness during the pandemic. The summer brought a slight sense of normalcy across North America, as vaccination numbers steadily increased; it nearly felt as if we were through the worst of this pandemic. Yet, with the infection rate of the delta variant on the rise, we again have a social responsibility to one another and the communities where we belong.
On August 5, 2021, Gamma Phi Beta posted an announcement for Fall 2021 Chapter Operations with the following direction:
• Fully vaccinated individuals should wear a mask in public indoor settings if they are in an area of substantial or high transmission.
• Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals should wear a mask in all public spaces.
• All individuals should get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or following a known exposure with an individual who is suspected or who tests positive for COVID-19.
• Any individual who tests positive or experience COVID-19 symptoms should isolate.
Due to these changes, all individuals are required to wear masks in indoor common spaces at Gamma Phi Beta facilities and at Gamma Phi Beta hosted events and activities that take place indoors. Common spaces include areas such as living rooms, chapter rooms, dining rooms and hallways.
What is the rationale behind mandating masks?
We believe keeping in-person events is vital to friendship and sisterhood. Being proactive about masking will hopefully allow us to continue to operate in person and reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.
Additionally, many campuses across North America are sending students home if they test positive for COVID-19. It is important to us that we do everything in our power to ensure all Gamma Phi Betas can continue their education, uninterrupted by this pandemic.
Sororities are often the largest collective groups of women on a college campus, and we have a responsibility and opportunity to be leaders in our communities in thinking and acting with the health and wellness of our sisters, neighbors, colleagues and friends.
It feels like Gamma Phi Beta is the only National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) group mandating masks. Are other groups doing the same?
This decision was made following a great deal of research, which not only included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, but also conversations with our NPC peers. Gamma Phi Beta is not the only NPC group following these guidelines, and we expect even more organizations to make announcements with similar guidelines shortly.
We also connected with many of our chapter leaders from across different areas of North America. Many chapter leaders requested that these guidelines be put in place, as they were concerned about the health and wellness of their sisters and in hope that in-person events will continue throughout the year.
This is different than my campus guidelines. Why can’t we just follow the guidelines outlined by my campus?
We understand that infection rates and vaccine rates vary from campus to campus, and therefore, masking guidance differs as well. As a private member organization, Gamma Phi Beta can set requirements and expectations for its members, separate from campus guidance.
We’ve been closely monitoring the CDC’s latest recommendations and guidelines, and currently, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking regardless of vaccination status. We’ve decided to follow these recommendations for the health and wellness of our members.
How will this policy be enforced?
As responsible members of Gamma Phi Beta and the community, our hope is that our officers and volunteers will help share this responsibility and that all members will strive to be compliant.
If there is a chapter event or program, the officer leading the event or program is the first person responsible for enforcing the mask mandate with the assistance of other officers and members. For example, the new member educator would help enforce the requirement at new member education, the social chair would help enforce the requirement at social events, etc.
If I'm already vaccinated, do I have to follow this policy? Everyone on my campus is required to be vaccinated – do we still have to wear masks indoors?
While everyone may be required to be vaccinated, universities are providing exemptions to students for various reasons. Therefore, there may be unvaccinated members and residents in our facilities. Additionally, according to the CDC, preliminary evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people who do become infected with the delta variant can spread the virus to others.
Even if an entire chapter is vaccinated, our members may regularly interact with unvaccinated or people who are more susceptible to the virus. As leaders in our communities, Gamma Phi Beta wants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to be a partner in public health.