Dear Kansas Association of Teachers of English Members:
Around this time last year, we made the decision to cancel the 2020 conference. We were still in a time of uncertainty; not much was known about novel coronavirus; a vaccine was still in development; and we wanted to make sure all of our members were safe. Instead, we opted to host a live virtual event and cut our losses. While it was inconvenient, it was a bittersweet success in a year full of hardship. Our membership grew; we tried new programming through virtual book clubs; we challenged ourselves to reinvent what KATE is and does for teachers. We also planned — if at all possible — to host the 2021 conference in-person.
I am happy to announce that — as of the present moment — we will fulfill that plan and promise.
The 2021 conference is still in-person. We will have breakout sessions; we will learn from one another; we will convene at the Drury Plaza Hotel Broadview in Wichita. However, the pandemic still continues. This will not be a conference that is quite back to “normal.” Concessions have had to be made on our path back to normalcy. Through talks with the Sedgwick County Health Department, KATE member feedback, our keynote speakers, the following safety measures will be in effect for this year’s conference:
Due to personal and family reasons, both Samira Ahmed and Laura Packer will present keynote sessions virtually.
Masks, distancing, and hand sanitation are mandatory at the conference.
Vaccination is highly recommended, but we will not be requiring proof of vaccination or PCR in order to attend.
Meals will not be catered en masse in the foyer or ballrooms; instead, meal certificates (Visa/Mastercard gift cards) will be given to attendees based upon the number of days attending with the same monetary allocation traditionally used for catering; small groups are encouraged to eat at the variety of downtown restaurants near the Drury so as to assist with easier contact tracing (should it be needed).
We faced and weathered an unimaginable school year; we supported one another; we continued and grew. None of that would have been possible without members like you. Now, like the rest of the country, we are on the mend; we are healing, but healing takes time and cannot and should not be rushed. As always, the health and safety of our educators, their families, their students, and their communities is our top priority.
We appreciate your understanding and support, and we cannot wait to see you in-person at the conference!
At the Spring Executive Board Meeting for the Kansas Association of Teachers of English, it was decided to move forward with planning for an in-person conference during the days of November 4-6th of 2021. We are also going to explore hybrid and other online options and will make an announcement regarding those possibilities at a later date. For more information, visit the official Fall Annual Conference page of our website!