Rotary and COVID-19
Rotary is closely monitoring the pandemic of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, and continuously assessing the potential impact on Rotary operations, events, and members.
Your health and safety are always our top priorities. Look below for information on Rotary activities that may be affected. We will update this page as new information becomes available. Read how members are using ingenuity and flexibility to help people affected by coronavirus and to stay connected.
AFFECTED AREAS · Grants · Polio · Rotary International Convention · Other major Rotary events · Club and district meetings · Rotary leadership, committees, RI secretariat · Rotary Youth Exchange · Rotary Peace Fellowships and other programs · Rotary-funded travel
RESOURCES · World Health Organization · U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention · UNICEF · U.S. State Department · Rotary's travel ban list · Watch a message of support from RI President Mark Daniel Maloney
Grant options to respond to COVID-19
As people of action, Rotary members want to find ways to respond to COVID-19, and to help people affected by it. The Rotary Foundation offers several options that Rotarians can use to help care for and protect people in their own communities and others around the world.
Districts can use district grant funds to support local activities, like purchasing thermometers, protective medical gear, or other items to donate to medical professionals who need them. Districts can also use contingency funds from an open district grant or re-purpose previously planned activities as a COVID-19 response. As districts prepare to submit new district grant applications for 2020-21, we encourage you to designate funds for COVID-19 responses. As a one-time exception, the Foundation will allow expenses related to COVID-19 that were incurred since 15 March 2020 to be reimbursed through 2020-21 district grants.
Disaster Response Grants and Rotary’s Disaster Response Fund
Rotary’s disaster response grants provide a fast and effective way to respond to local events. The Rotary Foundation recently added COVID-19 projects to its list of eligible activities for these grants. Each district can apply for one grant (of up to $25,000) to address COVID-19, depending on the availability of funds. Disaster response grants are funded by the Rotary Disaster Response Fund to help districts around the world respond to disasters. The fund accepts online contributions and DDF. Districts may designate that their DDF contributions to the Disaster Response Fund be used exclusively for COVID-19 grant activities. Cash contributions will be used for general disaster response, including response to COVID-19.
Global grants remain an excellent way to make a transformative impact in a community. If medical equipment is needed in order to respond effectively to COVID-19, global grants can help pay for these items. The Foundation is waiving the 30 percent foreign financing requirement for any new global grant that addresses COVID-19. Note that these grants still require both a host and international partner. For additional information, contact your regional grants officer.
Using the vast infrastructure developed to identify the polio virus and deliver vaccination campaigns, the polio eradication program is pitching in to protect the vulnerable from COVID-19, especially in polio-endemic countries. Learn more.
Rotary International Convention
We regret to announce that the Rotary International Convention, scheduled for 6-10 June 2020 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, has been canceled due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19. Learn more.
Other major Rotary events
To protect the health of all involved, Rotary canceled the presidential conferences scheduled for 28 March at UNESCO in Paris, France, and 9 May at the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, Italy. People who registered will receive an email from the organizers with additional information and details about refunds.
Club and district meetings
Rotary International recommends that districts and Rotary and Rotaract clubs meet virtually, cancel, or postpone meetings. Learn from other clubs about hosting virtual club meetings in the Learning Center.
Closely examine your personal circumstances, including any health issues, when you consider travel and participation in events.
Rotary leadership, committees, RI secretariat
The RI Board of Directors and The Rotary Foundation Trustees meetings will take place remotely via webinar rather than in-person.
All Rotary committees and events scheduled to take place at Rotary International headquarters in Evanston, Illinois, USA, have been canceled through 31 May. If feasible, committees may choose to hold virtual meetings.
All RI staff travel, both international and domestic, has also been canceled through 31 May. RI staff at Evanston headquarters and all of Rotary’s global offices are practicing social distancing by working from home until least 30 April.
Rotary Youth Exchange
Contact your partner districts to confirm specific precautions related to COVID-19 where students are being hosted. All districts, as well as students and their parents, should consult travel advisories and guidelines issued by their embassies or consular offices, international public health agencies like the World Health Organization, and local health authorities for the latest and most relevant information.
Districts should strongly consider ending exchanges and returning students home if it is safe and possible to do so.
In some situations, returning a student home may present a greater risk. Determine how international travel conditions or requirements (medical screenings, pre-authorization, etc.), strict quarantine measures, or the situation in a student’s host and home country may impact each student’s return depending on their specific circumstances. However, it is also important to consider how this rapidly changing situation may progress and present new challenges in the future, including the possibility that students may be prevented from returning home for an indefinite period of time.
Districts must communicate regularly with parents or /legal guardians and consult with local embassies, consulates, and public health authorities to make informed decisions that prioritize safety, minimize risk, and consider the impact of each decision related to a student’s exchange. In any event, parents or legal guardians may choose to remove their child from the program at any time.
Also, consider whether student trips or local activities planned for the future could expose participants to an increased risk or to challenges returning home and cancel or postpone all nonessential travel.
Rotary Peace Fellowships and other programs
For peace fellows: Countries listed as Level 3 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been added to Rotary’s travel ban list, and all nonessential travel to, from, or through those countries is restricted for Rotary staff and fellows. Use discretion if you plan to travel to or through Level 2 countries. Fellows currently in a country experiencing the spread of COVID-19 are advised to follow the recommendations of your host university and the country’s national health agencies.
For first-year fellows preparing for your applied field experience, we recommend you consider options in your study country and have an alternate plan in place in case travel is restricted further. Beyond health and safety concerns, we do not want fellows to be subject to quarantines or have challenges returning to the country where you study because of your field experience travel. You can contact your staff specialist with specific questions about how Rotary’s policy may affect your field experience planning.
For Interact and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA): Consider whether planned events, trips, or local activities could expose young people to an increased risk, and consider canceling or postponing nonessential travel or large gatherings.
Follow the guidance of schools for any closures or delayed start times that may affect school-based program participants. Discuss how they can stay engaged and safe until school resumes. Talk with parents or guardians about their child’s health and safety and what Rotary clubs and districts are doing to minimize the exposure and impact for participants in Rotary activities and events.
Participants in Rotary Friendship Exchanges, and Rotary Action Groups and their affiliated chapters should follow recommendations from the World Health Organization and the host region’s national, regional, or local health authorities when considering whether to cancel or postpone events, meetings, or activities.
Districts organizing international programs such as Rotary Friendship Exchanges and New Generations Service Exchanges could expose participants to an increased risk. Organizers should follow the guidelines set by the World Health Organization and the national, regional, or local health authorities of participating districts when considering whether to cancel or postpone planned trips or activities.
Any Rotary-funded travel, including grant recipients, Rotary Youth Exchange participants, and Rotary Peace Fellows, have been canceled through 31 May. Direct additional questions about Rotary-funded travel to your appropriate program officer.
Note: Please click on the link to Rotary.org to see this information in its original form, where there are many useful live links that could not be copied in this story.