User Group Meetings and COVID-19

June 1, 2020

As a member of the leadership team of the New England SQL Server User Group (NESQL), my primary responsibility is to schedule speakers ahead of time. With the current pandemic, I am struggling to formulate my email to potential speakers for the year 2020-21. Do I ask them to commit to in-person, virtual, or for both? Historically NESQL always held in-person meetings with very few exceptions in the last 15 years. I am sure some other user group leaders are also struggling with the same. I decided to launch a poll on twitter. 15 out of 25 respondents mentioned that there meeting would be virtual-only starting September 2020. I will share the result and comments I received in the blog post so everyone can be benefited.

I want to thank everyone who responded to the poll, commented, and help to spread the word.

The poll was launched on May 29th with this question “Local User Group Leaders what is your plan for monthly meetings starting Sep-2020?”. I gave three options. Later I realized that I should have added a 4th one ‘do not know yet’.

I am going to list the comments I got but not mention the name of the person or the user groups association.

  • We are planning to be virtual at least through the meeting in December 2020. We may decide to move to both in 2021 and see how things go.
  • At this point, the liability risk is too high and most facilities I’ve seen UG meetings in don’t have the space to practice good distancing and allow enough attendees.
  • ______ is still under either recommendation or edict to keep gatherings at less than 10. Until that lifts we are a no go in person. Plus our venue is not letting outside entities in until at least January 2021.
  • It’s too early to tell. We have been taking it month by month as it will depend on state and local restrictions. We have done virtually for the past 2 months and will continue as our venue (_____) is asp closed.
  • It depends on what both local restrictions are, as well as the policies of the building which donate space to us. That being said, we would like to move back to all in-person but will bring this up with the group when we can.
  • My personal opinion is just that its too early to even start this conversation.
  • Don’t know yet.
  • Well, I have nothing against discussing a plan. I’ve been on a few discussions. None seems to have adequate data to arrive at any conclusion, that’s really all.
  • At this point, our discussions have mostly been “We are going to plan to virtual until <date>. When we get to about <date> we will revisit the topic.”

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