For most of 2020, hosting an in-person event didn’t seem possible. Colleges and universities across the US took most of their events online for the protection of their students and staff. And while some universities are allowing students the option to come back to campus in the new year and resume somewhat normal—but limited—activities, this doesn’t mean the threat of COVID-19 is gone.
If you’re planning a school event in the near future, start with these tips:
Do: Hold the Event Outdoors if Possible
According to the Mayo Clinic, COVID-19 is far less likely to spread when you’re outdoors because of the constantly moving fresh air. So, if you can have your event or party outside, do it. However, if that’s not an option, choose a space that’s well-ventilated. Open windows if you can, and don’t crowd too many people into a small space.
Don’t: Assume Staff and Guests Will Bring Their Own PPE
The CDC recommends requiring your staff to wear face masks while encouraging your guests to do the same. Anyone over the age of two who doesn’t have trouble breathing and who is able to remove a mask on his or her own should wear one.
But because masks have become so controversial, you can’t expect all of your guests to come prepared. For this reason, consider supplying them at the door instead of turning people away, along with other personal protective equipment like face shields, gloves, and anything else you can think of to make your guests feel comfortable. You may even want to offer small bottles of hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes so they can keep their hands clean while they mingle.
Do: Screen Guests at the Entrance
These days, you don’t need an ID to get into events—you need a temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider assigning a staff member to the entrance to take the temperature of everyone who attends your event. If anyone is over 99 degrees, you may want to send them away. You can also ask attendees if they’ve had a cough or haven’t felt well in the last few days or if they’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19 recently.
Don’t: Forget to Place Reminder Signs Around the Event
Everywhere you go, you see signs reminding you to stay six feet apart or more and to wash your hands frequently. You may assume no one pays any attention to them, but without them, it can be easy to forget we’re living in a post-pandemic world. They may not match your decor, but print and post them anyway just to be safe.
Do: Offer Single-Use Items
Another thing to consider when serving food is using as many single-use items as possible. Instead of placing bottles of condiments, like ketchup and mustard, on the table, use the packets you receive at fast-food drive-thrus. If you’re serving snacks, make sure they’re individually wrapped or packaged. Use cups, plates, and silverware that are disposable.
Don’t: Allow Many People Access to Food and Beverages
When it comes to food prep, the fewer people who have access to the food and beverages you serve, the better. The FDA suggests there’s no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can live on food, but there is evidence suggesting it can live on surfaces, like food containers. Ideally, only one or two people will prepare and serve your food with caution, and they should wear a face mask while doing so.
Also, it’s probably a no-brainer, but you’ll want to go back to the old-school tradition of serving guests individually. Now is not the time for buffets or family-style meals.
And if you’re holding a party on campus, serving alcohol may be off-limits anyway. But even if it’s not, you may want to stick to soft drinks, tea, juice, and water now. Too much alcohol and guests may not be as careful as they would be otherwise.
Do: Have Fun
A socially distanced party doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend an afternoon or evening, but it’s possible to hold your event and still have fun. You may have to go the extra mile, but you can make it work. Play games like Bingo or Scattergories that allow people to play together but apart. You can even have a face mask decorating contest to see who did it best. Just note that the CDC discourages activities that require singing and shouting.
Don’t: Be Afraid to Break Up Large Groups
It can be hard to prevent people from gathering in large groups at events, but you’ll have to do what you can to encourage people to remain socially distant. Start by spacing chairs and tables far enough apart that guests can’t help but remain at least six feet apart. Consider using clear plastic barriers where necessary, or get creative with it. Use items like plants and flowers to encourage people to keep their distance from each other.
Do: Let CORT Events Help You
Everyone is ready to get back to a place that’s as normal as possible. But trying to balance the desire for normal activities and the fear of spreading the virus can be overwhelming. For event planners, finding the right partners is essential. Rely on CORT Events to make your events happen. Our award-winning collections will transform any space into the big event that everyone is still talking about the next day.
Don’t: Make It Difficult for Guests to Wash Their Hands
Washing your hands frequently is a major way to prevent the spread of the virus, so make sure your guests have options. In other words, one tiny bathroom for 100 guests isn’t going to work. Consider placing hand-washing stations around the event. Also, make sure hand sanitizer is available at all tables and at every entrance. If necessary, place plastic glass barriers at sinks in public restrooms, and have a staff member disinfect the light switches and fixture handles and knobs regularly.
At CORT Events, we love working with our event-planning partners to create a space that inspires clients and keeps them safe and healthy all at the same time so please feel free to reach out and let’s start working together.