NAR Board statement on the impact of coronavirus on the NAR and its members
Our primary mission in the NAR has been to promote safety in hobby rocketry. We remain vigilant in communicating ideas, recommendations, and rules that promote safety. The Board of Trustees has recently discussed several issues pertaining to financial impact of the virus and membership. At this time, based on the services that the NAR provides, we concluded that we should not make any changes in the current membership plans. Also the one-year validity of the L2 HPR written test will remain as-is for the time being with no extensions. However, board members are continuing to listen to your thoughts and ideas as the coronavirus will be with us for a while. Please stay safe and healthy! (5.11.20)
April 28 Update on COVID-19 Policy for National Association of Rocketry
Now that states are starting to relax restrictions on stay at home requirements and some encouraging more outdoor activities, we must rethink how to effectively implement some guidelines for our organization that will complement those of the various states and local governments. Therefore, effective April 28, 2020 the NAR policy prohibiting scheduled launches, meetings, and large group gatherings is rescinded. This April 28 Update will remain in effect until further notice. In its place is the following policy and recommendations:
Policy – Effective April 28, 2020 the NAR policy on scheduled section and NRC launches, section meetings, and large gatherings is that NAR sections follow all applicable national, state, and local requirements, restrictions, and recommendations for the physical location of the event(s).
We envision that this new policy will remain in effect indefinitely, until the NAR Board believes new guidance is warranted to protect the health of our members and non-members who attend our events.
Because each state and territory are making COVID rules at the state/county, city, municipal, and territory level, it is impossible for the NAR to create a policy that is one-size fits all. Therefore, we are leaving the task of making and then implementing the decisions up to each NAR Section. It is important that all NAR scheduled launches plan for and respect social distancing.
Our members are encouraged to find, read, and understand any and all state, county, city and local requirements for outdoor activities, such as rocket launches. There may be local authorities or resources that are available to help you with your particular location and the requirements. A local health department may be a valuable resource (try their website first) to help narrow down what your local requirements may be.
Please be patient if seeking help from a local government agency; they may have many other public health issues to deal with that require immediate attention. If you do get information or guidance from the local authorities, keep a record of all information received. Note, local jurisdictions may have specific requirements that you must incorporate into the planning and execution of your event.
The Board Expects that each Section will:
- Develop a plan for each section event. Each plan needs to be thought out and have a form of documentation that can be shared with members, persons attending the event, and local authorities.
- Plan for controlling and maintaining the number of participants. Create an environment for maintaining social distances. If the locality has a requirement that no more than “XX” people gather collectively at a given time, a section’s plan should ensure that this requirement is met. A section should be prepared to be firm with unanticipated members and the public who show up at the event.
- Example: One NAR Section, albeit a small one, is going to allow members to sign up to attend in shifts. They will limit the number of persons at the launch site to 10 or fewer, which is the local requirement.
Event Participant Guidance – explain the event and most importantly, should describe the process the Section will employ to meet any government requirements regarding people who attend the event. Each participant should receive this guidance. A section’s announcement for an event should address the following:
- Safety Measures – Explain the safety measures that will ensure safe distancing and contribute to recommended hygiene.
- Parking – Participants should park with larger than usual gaps between vehicles.
- Check-in/safety check – To ensure that safe distances can be maintained, can personal separation be marked out for people waiting in line to check their rocket? Consider how to best allow a flyer to present their model and have it inspected while allowing for safe distancing between the flyer and the safety officer.
- Encourage – The use of hand sanitizer and gloves by all safety and launch personnel.
- Use online and on-site sign-up sheets – to ensure a record of all participants and attendees to each event. These are to be given to local public health officials, if requested for contact tracing. Section launch organizers and NRC CD’s should ensure that they have a record of the names of all who attend their event(s). Please keep the record of attendees for at least 30 days or as required by public health officials.
- Personal Protection Equipment – Request that all participants bring safety supplies in accordance with government (Federal, state, county, local) requirements (i.e., masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, etc. The Section should also have a supply of personal protective equipment (for example, masks if a local requirement) and disinfection products. Assign one or more members to wiping down areas or equipment that multiple people will touch Include porta-potties or associated public restroom (like at a public park), launch pads and control equipment. At the rocket inspection tables, minimize the use of shared equipment and disinfect areas like the tabletop, clipboards and pens.
- When in doubt remain home – Insist that members who are ill, for any reason, or are at-risk should remain home.
- Low power rocket launch areas – Set up and rockets loaded onto the pads in a manner that encourages safe distancing Safe distancing may require members load rockets on low power launch racks, one launch rod at-a-time.
- Configure the range as a Misfire Alley (scroll down landing page) – this could benefit smaller events, such as NRC events to create safe distancing.
- Minimize shared materials – Consider how to minimize or eliminate flight cards and the shared use of writing instruments. The misfire alley approach makes that easier. Substitute flyers filling out flight cards with the RSO/LCO filling them out during the safe-distance checkin.
The preceding list is meant as guidance. It is not meant to be all-inclusive. Sections are responsible for developing whatever plan(s) necessary to enable them to meet Federal, state, county, and local public health requirements.
The NAR Board, the Section Activities Chair, and the NAR President will not be responsible for reviewing and approving each Section’s event plans and implementation. Sections and/or individuals who do not follow the intent of these recommendations can be brought up to the Board for failure to follow safety requirements. However, we are not looking for the opportunity to settle disagreements among Section members who disagree on the finer details. Use common sense, do the right thing, stay home if you don’t like what your Section leadership decides, and please don’t flood my inbox with requests to referee disagreements.
I ask that all members please adhere to the intent and spirit of this policy and help to protect all who would be attending a launch from the possible infection of this virus. We are all in this together.
John N. Hochheimer
NAR 74537 L3