At this time, estimates are that the COVID-19 virus has infected 200,000 people worldwide, and killed more than 3,000. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. While we hope this virus will be eradicated soon, CAS has taken measures to reduce the risk to its employees and clients.
In response to this crisis, CAS President Jonathan Stone stated, “The decision has been made to allow managers the option to work remotely for at least the next two weeks as our nation contends with this virus. The exact duration of this time period is unknown and dependent on factors beyond our control. It is important for the health of ourselves and the company as a whole.” Most CAS offices are now closed to the public, but business continues, although in different arenas.
In addition to enacting protections for employees during this time of uncertainty, CAS has also implemented strategies to help protect clients as well. It has been recommended by health officials and attorneys that HOA Associations postpone all person to person meetings and limit contact as much as possible. In response to these recommendations, CAS offers several methods by which association members or association boards transact business in the absence of everyone gathering at the same time and location—some form of written consent, electronic meetings, or a vote outside a physical meeting can all be ways to manage business without contact.
Like many state statutes, the NC Nonprofit Corporation Act provides that a director can participate in a Board meeting by electronic communications. The only requirement is that everyone must be able to simultaneously hear everyone else. Most often that means speakerphone or conference calls, but other online communications platforms like Skype or Zoom can work as long as everyone can hear and speak to everyone else.
In North Carolina, unfortunately, there is no statute clearly authorizing electronic annual membership meetings, so if an association had an annual membership meeting planned for the near future, CAS managers will recommend postponement of the meeting.
We remain hopeful that this virus will soon be contained with minimal loss of life and that daily living for everyone will return to normal. However, regardless of what the future holds, there will likely be at some point a different crisis or natural disaster that will require the association or its Board to act outside of the standard, in-person meeting process. CAS staff are prepared and are embracing the change in business practices and methods. It will benefit CAS clients to become accustomed to the use of the electronic methods of meeting and conducting business for the foreseeable future in order to protect all.