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Fulfilling NAPS Duties in a New Norm
By Brian J. Wagner
NAPS National President
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the term “new norm” has become a way of life and business for the American public. Although the pandemic may have slowed our lives, NAPS business must continue to move forward—cautiously and safely.
A byproduct of this pandemic is new-norm thinking to make our lives more successful and less stressful.What new-norm thinking is necessary for NAPS Headquarters and local and state branches to effectively conduct association business? Here’s the scoop!
NAPS Headquarters started early to answer that question when the Executive Board addressed the potential impact the COVID-19 pandemic could have on our 67th National Convention scheduled for August 2020. To protect the health and safety of NAPS and Auxiliary members, guests and their families, the board voted on May 3 to postpone and reschedule the national convention for Aug. 30 through Sept. 3, 2021. Rescheduling the convention also postponed electing new Executive Board members.
Therefore, in accordance with “Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised” and Article VII, Section 1(b), of the NAPS Constitution, Executive Board members will continue to hold office until they or their successors are duly appointed or elected. In that regard, all current board members except one (due to personal reasons) agreed to serve in their incumbent positions until Sept. 3, 2021, when the next Executive Board elections are held.
Until then, per Article VIII, Section 2, of the NAPS Constitution: “It shall be the duty of the Executive Board to carry out the orders of NAPS and conduct all business of NAPS during the interim of conventions.” NAPS business is conducted mostly through Executive Board meetings and numerous conference calls throughout the board’s term, now an extended term.
Specifically, in Article V, Meetings, Section 2, of the NAPS Constitution: “The Executive Board shall meet at least once each year, and more frequently if conditions require. Such meetings shall be held at the call of the President or by petition to the President, signed by at least twelve (12) Executive Board members. A summation of the minutes of Executive Board meetings shall be reported in subsequent issues of The Postal Supervisor.”
Fortunately, in March 2020, an Executive Board meeting was held at our headquarters, The National Association of Postal Supervisors Vincent A. Palladino Building, fulfilling its constitutional requirement to meet once a year. Therefore, the traditional fall board meeting was not required. However, to set an example, NAPS Headquarters decided to fulfill its duties and responsibilities by scheduling a fall board meeting in October, conducted remotely via Zoom.
NAPS Headquarters understands many local and state branches already have taken the initiative to continue with their local NAPS business remotely using meeting platforms such as Zoom. Other branches have yet to embrace this new-norm thinking. However, it is something to consider until COVID-19 is safely suppressed or completely eliminated.
How and where should a branch start to have meetings to fulfill its duties and responsibilities during this pandemic? Because there are over 275 branches with different needs, NAPS Headquarters has not set official policy for how branches should conduct their business or meetings during this pandemic. However, here are some suggestions:
If hosting a remote meeting, a branch should consider options such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Go-To-Meetings and more. There may be other types of remote teleconferencing applications a branch may want to research to find the best fit in terms of member access and cost effectiveness.
If not already done, a branch may want to amend its constitution and bylaws to also incorporate making a virtual or hybrid (in-person and virtual concurrently) meeting an “official” meeting. Providing an option to attend virtually is a great way for branches to keep members active and reactivate less-active members.
Members can receive meeting credit for attending virtually. Also, their virtual attendance can count toward a meeting quorum to ensure the branch has an official meeting and fulfills its NAPS duties and responsibilities.
If hosting a virtual meeting, seek a member who understands this technology, such as Zoom, to help administer and coordinate the invitation, chat box, screen-sharing and “mute” button to avoid background noise and coordinate speakers and debate. Basically, the branch president conducts the meeting over video rather than in person and follows its regular meeting agenda. A good idea is for the branch president to first host a virtual executive board meeting to get a better feel for the larger branch virtual meeting.
Given advance notice, resident officers and respective NAPS area and regional vice presidents also could attend branch and state executive board virtual meetings. It would be nice to physically attend a branch meeting to address members’ concerns and enjoy NAPS fellowship. But until the pandemic is tamed, a virtual meeting is a way to safely stay connected and involved.
Some branches may be comfortable holding in-person branch meetings, despite the pandemic still being present. Therefore, NAPS highly encourages branches to take measures to protect attendees, including their families, from contracting and/or spreading COVID-19. Following are some suggestions for in-person branch meetings:
Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for social distancing by having seats at least six feet apart, including chairs at the table where branch officers sit. Unless you are sure the facility or room where the branch is hosting its meeting already has done so, have one designated person wear gloves and a mask to wipe down or spray meeting seats and/or tables with CDC-recommended sanitizers/disinfectants before the start of the meeting.
Require all meeting attendees to wear masks. Provide hand sanitizer and have the branch secretary take verbal attendance instead of having members gathering at a table to register their presence.
If providing food during the meeting, prepare in advance lunch-type snack bags filled with prepackaged chips, cookies, bottled water, soda, candy bars, handwipes, napkins, etc. Place the snack packs on the socially distanced chairs before the start of the meeting. Finally, in addition to hosting an in-person branch meeting, also provide members the option to attend remotely (hybrid), especially if they have a high-risk condition.
I encourage NAPS members to keep up their faith and spirits; this COVID-19 pandemic will pass. When it does, NAPS and its members can be thankful they rose to the challenge with greater hope, more resilience, a smarter way to live and by conducting NAPS business with new thinking.
Speaking of being thankful, as we celebrate Thanksgiving this November, I want to thank the men and women of our armed forces, our military veterans and all essential workers for protecting and serving our great country. I send my sincerest thanks to NAPS branch officers and our Auxiliary for all they do for NAPS.
To keep up your spirits, my November ice-cream-flavor-of-the-month recommendation is Tillamook’s pumpkin cookie butter.