The joint union-employer trustees of the AMO Safety & Education Plan have agreed to continue to operate STAR Center in the safest possible environment in this second year of the COVID-19 pandemic - including the application of sensible protocols and restrictions intended only to minimize health risks to AMO members enrolled at STAR for training.
These protocols and restrictions have allowed the STAR Center campus to continue to provide the training necessary to keep deep-sea, Great Lakes and inland waters vessels manned and operating in commercial and government service trades. Though unpleasant, frustrating and contrary to the traditionally comfortable and family-friendly STAR Center atmosphere, these protocols and restrictions reflect both legal requirements and moral responsibility.
We do not want AMO members infected with the coronavirus - on campus or off - while enrolled at STAR, and we do not want these AMO members exposing others to the virus as they return to their homes or to their vessels.
Broward County and Dania Beach ordinances prohibit gatherings of 10 individuals or more when the rate of new infection exceeds five percent. Throughout much of the month of April, this daily positivity rate hovered at or just below 8 percent. The infection rates in nearby Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade County have been just as troubling.
These ordinances also impose additional operational requirements on businesses and entities.
In addition, Florida is one of only three U.S. states with more than 1 million COVID cases. Florida also has one of the highest numbers of "variant" cases, in which the coronavirus mutates in ways that can impair the effect of vaccines or the success of medical treatment.
One more complication - CDC travel guidelines impose constraints and some states, counties and cities as well as many foreign locations require individuals arriving from anywhere in Florida to undergo "isolation" at varying lengths and/or COVID testing upon arrival.
Restrictions and protocols in place at STAR Center are reviewed continuously and as conditions and statistics permit. If and when we can ease them at all, we will. For example, the gym has recently been opened with limited access in conformance with county and local COVID-19 ordinances, however pools on campus remain closed for recreational use due to requirements for increased sanitation and continuous oversight. In the near future, AMO members may be asked to bring their proof of vaccination with them to STAR Center to allow for expanded campus amenities as conditions warrant.
STAR Center will continue to adapt and adjust to these tragic, unprecedented and unpredictable circumstances in the interest of health and safety for all AMO members and their families, while continuing to meet training needs in accordance with our trust responsibilities. Thank you for your understanding and patience.