Letter from ASEEES President & 2021 Annual Convention Program Chair
We at ASEEES are working hard to make sure that we hold a high-quality 2021 Annual Convention, while closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 pandemic and the changing guidelines and mandates of the CDC and the city of New Orleans. As of today, we are still planning to hold the 2021 Convention in a hybrid form, with an in-person convention on November 18-21, followed by a virtual convention on December 2-3. Of course, the health and safety of the convention attendees are our primary concern. We’re also mindful of our contractual obligations, including a cancellation penalty that would cost the association in the neighborhood of $500,000. We do want to assure you that we have contingency plans in place should the pandemic situation continue to shift.
Along with many cities in the US, New Orleans has seen a surge of COVID cases starting in late July. The mayor of New Orleans has issued a city-wide mask mandate for any indoor activities as of July 30. The vaccination rate for the city currently is 73% of the eligible population having received at least one dose of the vaccine and 65% fully vaccinated. For complete information on COVID guidelines, vaccination rates and cases in New Orleans, see the official city website.
The Hilton New Orleans Riverside is in full compliance with the city’s policies. Its staff will wear masks, hand sanitizer stations will be set up in the meeting rooms and throughout the hotel, the meeting rooms will be arranged with the chairs spaced out, and the meeting rooms will be cleaned after each session.
Unless you have a medical or religious exemption, we do expect all in-person attendees of the New Orleans convention to be fully vaccinated two weeks prior to the start of the convention on November 18 and to abide by the mask mandate. Anyone unable or unwilling to be vaccinated or wear a mask indoors should participate in the virtual convention in early December.
If you are currently scheduled to participate in the convention in New Orleans, we are seeking your input. You will receive a short survey separately, which we ask you to complete by no later than August 18. The survey responses will help guide us in responding to the changing circumstances with regard to COVID around the US and abroad. Furthermore, we have moved the early registration deadline to September 1 for your convenience.
Your reservation at the New Orleans Hilton can be changed or cancelled up to 72 hours prior to check-in without any penalty. More information on the hotel may be found here.
If you are planning to purchase airline tickets, you may wish to consider purchasing trip insurance. This article provides some options: Best Pandemic (COVID) Travel Insurance August 2021.
If you are unable to participate in person and would like to move your session to the Virtual Convention in early December, please discuss the option with your session organizer and other panelists. Then the session organizer should complete this change request form.
We thank you for your patience and understanding while we continue to assess this fast-moving situation. We will keep you updated on any decisions and changes.
Susan W. Lippincott Professor of Modern and Classical Languages and Russian, Swarthmore College
Chair, 2021 ASEEES Convention Program Committee
University Distinguished Teaching Associate Professor and Director, Texas Language Center, University of Texas at Austin