Communication Procedures During Events

In youth events, it’s important to set up communication processes that (1) avoid adults interacting one-on-one with youth; and (2) avoid making youth contact information public. One way to do that is to create a group phone texting number or email address that’s accessible to a group of leaders. This allows more than one person to respond (perhaps in shifts) and means that all messages are visible to multiple people. This might be to contact the event deans or peer chaplains.

For on-line events it may also be necessary to create video chat spaces for a small group of people to meet--such as peer chaplains meeting with a youth needing to talk, or a small group of leaders needing to have a meeting. A breakout room can be used for this purpose in Zoom while the main event continues. Other uses of breakout rooms might include having a reception/registration room, or a tech support room. There should never be adults meeting alone with youth in breakout rooms.
Alternately, a second Zoom account can be used to set up as a kind of reception area or as a separate meeting space for a smaller group.

Important: Whenever an account on any platform is set up for use by a UUA program, UUA staff must have the passwords and have administrative access. This allows staff to be able to monitor things in real time, and also to ensure that the account is appropriately closed in the future.

Suggestions for Setting Up Such Systems

Back-Channel Leader Communication

Since Zoom only allows private messaging, when turned on, to individuals, create group chats for leaders before your event such as on GroupMe. Then use that channel for leadership communications during the event.

Text-Based Messaging

Using a platform like TextFree creates a way to have a phone number that is textable and viewable by multiple people:

  • Set up the account to always send copies of messages to a specific email address monitored by an adult.
  • Give the username and password to the leaders who should be receiving the messages during the time frame they’re on duty. Change the password afterwards.
  • Leaders should have a separate group chat, such as on GroupMe, to decide who should respond to each text.
  • Leaders must identify themselves when responding and texts where the sender refuses to identify themselves cannot be responded to.

Shared Email Address

Microsoft Teams makes this fairly straight forward to have an email address that a group receives. A leader would need to respond from another email address, but could copy other leaders into the reply. An email address can be assigned to a channel in a team. Work with UUA’s IT department to customize that email address.

Other options include creating an account such as a gmail account accessible by multiple leaders.

Zoom Reception Space

If this is a potential need, set up the link and password ahead of time so that it can be shared with whichever participants need it. If adult leaders have multiple devices, they can be signed into both the main zoom room and the other. Ideally two adults are present as a reception desk of sorts.
Create multiple breakout rooms, far more than might be needed. Then as a group signs into the zoom to have a small group conversation they can be put into one breakout room and leave the meeting when they’re done. If a second or third groups arrives while that small group is meeting, there’s no need to disturb the first group because there are multiple breakout groups to use.