Tamar Schlekat, SETAC Global Scientific Affairs Manager

On the eve of this issue of the Globe, the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic after it had already named it an international emergency. The designation was invoked to trigger more stringent emergency procedures to protect public health. The recommended measures to limit the spread of the virus include reducing close contact between individuals, discouraging congregations and limiting travel.

The ever-evolving situation with the spread of COVID-19 has SETAC leadership highly vigilant. One of the major vehicles SETAC uses to advance its vision of Envrionmental Quality Through Science® is holding meetings, symposia and workshops. SETAC events facilitate knowledge exchange, provide training and networking opportunities, and celebrate achievements. Obviously, meetings and workshops require travel and bring colleagues from around the world in close contact with each other, which could become prohibited. Therefore, with the health and safety of participants being a top priority, SETAC continues to follow the COVID-19 situation closely vis-à-vis SETAC activities.

SETAC has been scrutinizing the Coronavirus spread, which has created disruption in the world, and its potential effect on SETAC scientific meetings and activities, ever since it started. In an abundance of caution, we canceled a workshop planned for early March in South Korea well ahead of time. Some regional chapter meetings which were planned in the near future have been canceled. SETAC upcoming meetings are still currently planned with the hope that the situation will have resolved itself by their date, so the meetings can take place as scheduled. In the meantime, SETAC will continue to monitor the evolving situation, assess each activity separately, and follow the advice of global organizations and local authorities.

We have been investigating virtual events well before this outbreak for the benefits they offer, including greater inclusivity and a lower carbon footprint. The situation just may provide the opportunity to try them. There are great platforms that offer a highly interactive online experience for presenters, exhibitors, collaborators and students, and we are confident they would make a good alternative in this difficult situation. We encourage you to maintain your abstract submissions and continue to register for SETAC meetings with the assurance that we are working hard to ensure that SETAC remains the favored science exchange forum for environmental science that it has always been.

We appreciate your patience during this time as we balance the demands of organizing upcoming meetings and develop back-up plans. Please visit our websites and social media channels, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and stay tuned for updates.

Author’s contact information: tamar.schlekat@setac.org

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