What steps will be taken to ensure that online meetings are held on a secure platform? Since the start of COVID-19 and online learning, Zoom (and many other platforms) have rolled out new features that have made online conferences more engaging, accessible, and secure. “Zoom bombing” or “Zoom raiding” has often been a concern for teachers around the world. This involved uninvited strangers entering a random meeting and causing disruption. With Zoom in particular, the introduction of password protection has greatly improved the platform’s security, and two separate codes are now needed to access any meeting room. In addition, for all of NHSMUN’s online sessions, pre-registration and pre-event authentication will be used. This will further ensure that online access is only granted to confirmed, paid registrants who have authenticated themselves in advance. Our staff members are trained in these online safety and security measures, and they will create, as with our in-person conferences, an open, inclusive environment where all delegates feel comfortable representing their country’s policies.


Can faculty advisors and chaperones access and monitor their students? Faculty play a critical role in monitoring, coaching, and encouraging their students throughout a Model UN conference, whether virtual or in-person. Therefore, faculty advisors and chaperones will be provided with full access to all committee sessions and activities in which they have student participants. Our staff will also be provided with a list of approved faculty to ensure that they are welcomed into the committees or meeting rooms properly. Just like at our in-person conferences, we ask that faculty and chaperones do not speak or participate in committee sessions so that the debate and resolutions properly reflect the delegates’ work.


How large will virtual committees be? NHSMUN always offers committees of various sizes to satisfy students who are seeking a diverse set of experiences or challenges. However, the limitations of a virtual MUN conference imply that there is a cap on the number of students who can meaningfully participate at the same time. Therefore, all committees at our online conference, even traditionally large General Assembly (GA) Main Committees, will be capped at small sizes. We expect that our committees will range in size from 12 to 48 students. Due to the expected social distancing guidelines issued by the State of New York, we expect that our in-person committees will be of similar sizes. While this is a departure from the traditional NHSMUN committee sizing, we are excited about the engaging and interactive experience that these reduced sizes will provide.


Will the conference schedule be the same for the virtual and in-person conferences? All elements of NHSMUN programming will be featured in both conference formats, including opening and closing ceremonies, guest speakers, delegate social, etc. However, it is unreasonable to expect students to sit at multiple, hours-long committee sessions in front of a computer screen all day long. Accordingly, adjustments will be made to virtual committee session scheduling, as well as the inclusion of more frequent breaks. This will help us to offer the same rigorous committee experience without exhausting students or teachers. The precise hour-by-hour schedule for the online conference is still being developed, but we will release more information to our registrants as soon as possible.


Will the conference only be offered in the US Eastern (New York) time zone? Time zones are a challenge for virtual conferences, especially at NHSMUN, where we are fortunate to have participants from dozens of countries around the world. Likewise, this international, diverse participant group is an important component of the NHSMUN experience. In order to best accommodate schools all around the world, committee schedules will be tailored to various time zones during the conference dates. Faculty and delegates can then choose to participate in the offering that is most convenient for their schedule and time zone. Similar to the above question about schedules, this information will be released soon to registrants.


Will you be providing resources or training sessions to teach delegates how to operate virtually? Yes! We will be offering a myriad of resources to acclimate students to virtual debate regardless of whether this is their first or twentieth conference. We will be releasing a “Guide to Virtual Model UN” in November, which will parallel our existing “Rules of Procedure Guide” but will be adapted for a virtual setting. We will also be offering online training classes for registered delegates, and these will be recorded and shared with registrants to ensure that even if a student cannot attend one of the classes, they will still have the same access as the others. Additionally, we will offer private preparation workshops for each school or delegation, and these will be customized to the delegation’s needs and interests. More information, including scheduling of these classes, lessons, and workshops, will be provided to registered delegations.


Will the supplementary programming like mission briefings and committee speakers still take place? Our goal is to make NHSMUN 2021 feel like a NHSMUN conference in any other year, whether delegates participate online or in-person. We will be moving all of our supplemental programming to take place online as much as is reasonably possible. This means that we will still work to schedule mission briefings for our attendees and that all committees will still be briefed by expert guest speakers. We will also be conducting a delegate social online as well. Some changes may need to be made. For example, if UN Permanent Missions experience altered schedules, the timing of these briefings would need to be adjusted. However, we will be sure to message all applicable changes early and often to ensure that all participants have access to this key logistical information.