Dear SEAMAAC Community:

As all of you are aware by now, the situation of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has evolved into global pandemic status. While SEAMAAC leadership has been cautious to not play into overreaction and panic, we feel it is our responsibility to be practical and solutions-focused, but above all we want to take care of you and the communities we aim to serve. As the terrain for precautionary measures are changing on a daily basis, we at SEAMAAC are putting into place contingency plans that will be enacted if we find ourselves in a worse-case scenario.

For now, however, SEAMAAC is moving forward with the following adjustments to our daily operations, and program administration:

1. SEAMAAC’s offices are closed to the public but will remain open for emergency services and as a point of information referral for clients with limited English proficiency. 2.. All programs, events, and in-person meetings involving 10 or more people are cancelled/postponed, or use teleconferencing options, until further notice. This includes our Elders Gathering, ESL and Digital Literacy, etc.

3. SEAMAAC's OST program Hip Hop Heritage is closed until further notice.

4. TCM services are now done remotely via telephone and teleconferencing.

5. SEAMAAC is expediting the purchase of hardware and preparing the technologies needed to allow agency-wide telecommuting (work from home/remotely) in a worse-case scenario.

6. SEAMAAC has instituted a contingency sick-leave policy for staff members. This policy will cover all staff including full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees. If a staff member becomes sick, SEAMAAC will offer full-paid leave (for the hours in your most current work assignment) for up to 10 work/business days. Additional sick leave will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

7. Please communicate with the HR Director and your supervisor in the event that you must take time off to care for a family member or if an early dismissal/school closure renders you and your family without proper childcare.

8. Per the recommendations of CDC and WHO, any SEAMAAC personnel returning from travel outside the country, is strenuously advised to self-quarantine for 14 calendar days, and as soon as convenient after their return, the staff should contact their nearest hospital and request to be tested for COVID-19.

For additional and up-to-date resources, please consider following these web-based resources:

Center For Disease Control (CDC) Link: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Philadelphia Department of Public Health Link: https://www.phila.gov/departments/department-of-public-health/

World Health Organization (WHO) Link: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/events-as-they-happen

While SEAMAAC has decided to close certain programs and services, and allow staff the option of telecommuting (work from home/remotely), please keep in mind that the individuals and communities we aim to serve, are socially, economically and linguistically marginalized, therefore needs SEAMAAC's services and programs during this pandemic more than ever. To this end, SEAMAAC leadership will work with individual program and staff to put a remote plan of service in place - for example, while SEAMAAC has cancelled the Elders Gathering, SEAMAAC will endeavor to administer check-in calls to each seniors and other vulnerable clients three times per week for the duration of the pandemic to ensure that elderly clients remain healthy and well-informed, and address any essential needs they may have (grocery shopping, medication, fellowship, etc.). I would be interested in other ideas you may have for creative remote program/service delivery.

Finally, as we have witnessed a rise in incidents of xenophobia and anti-Asian racism during the past few weeks, and now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared COVID-19 a pandemic, we must assume that more people will use it as an excuse to express and act out their racist beliefs. As people of Asian ancestry represents more than 50% of SEAMAAC staff and constituents, and more than 90% of SEAMAAC’s constituents are from marginalized communities who have borne the brunt of blame and scapegoating, we recommend that you exercise greater personal safety precaution in public spaces, and to report any incidents of verbal or physical attacks to the Philadelphia Police Department and to SEAMAAC. And if you are a friend to SEAMAAC but not a person of Asian descent or from a marginalized community, now is the time to practice empathy and compassion, and be vocal and supportive ally, in taking action to support the communities we serve.

Although it is our strenuous recommendation to practice “social distancing” during the pandemic, I want to reiterate my absolute commitment of support to you and your family as we face this together. My office, phone and email, will maintain an open door policy should you have recommendations, questions or concerns.

Yours In Solidarity,
Thoai Nguyen, CEO of SEAMAAC