I sat down to write this shortly after the Town Hall Meeting on COVID-19 that AAUS hosted on January 22nd, hoping that everyone who attended found the information presented to be relevant and empowering. It was the first in a series of virtual events this organization will present over the first half of the year, including more subject-specific forums on topics such as applying the scientific diving exemption and promoting diversity in our sector, as well as hosting our first virtual New DSO Orientation and Annual Symposium this month. We know the time we have to get together at the DSO meeting will not be nearly enough to thoroughly introduce our members to new services and support initiatives, so we’ll also be looking to this virtual platform to provide another way to connect and share these updates across our community.
Our invited speakers, Dr. Karen Van Hoesen from UCSD/UHMS and Francois Burman from DAN, provided the most recent criteria for the initial medical screening of divers and guidelines for the return to diving authorization after exposure to COVID-19 as well as myriad considerations for the risk assessment and oversight of scientific diving programs during the pandemic. Both guests provided documents that were shared with attendees during the event and we will also be posting these to the COVID-19 resources page on the AAUS website. Our invited panelists, Mauritius Bell (ADPA President and California Academy of Sciences DSO), Anya Hanson (University of Rhode Island DSO), and Chris Rigaud (AAUS Board of Directors and University of Maine DSO) provided insights into their experiences overseeing a wide range of scientific diving operations, from essential animal husbandry to conducting ongoing research and the training of new divers in their programs. All of the event participants offered to continue these discussions through our community forum and through personal correspondence, so feel free to reach out!
Heather mentioned it briefly and I want to echo the sentiment; I have really missed seeing everyone this past year. Even a quick glimpse at everyone’s icons on the screen was an inspiring reminder that we are all family even when we are apart. Stay safe out there.
University of Washington