#AWP22 Health & Safety Policy

September 15, 2021

Registration will open in October! Please check back to our Conference Overview page for updates.

AWP continues to monitor the evolving situation regarding COVID-19 in relation to large gatherings. We will provide updates as guidance from the CDC, state, and local public health recommendations change. AWP asks all attendees to follow regulations and to make informed choices about travel, conducting yourself onsite, and your engagement with external venues and groups while in Philadelphia.

Our goal is to host a safe and valuable conference for the AWP community. We recognize that the situation may evolve and change as we approach March. Please check back to this webpage for updates. We thank you in advance for your commitment to following the health and safety protocols in and protecting your fellow attendees.

If you cannot or choose not to follow these health and safety policies, we encourage you to explore the virtual #AWP22 Conference.

We are surveying past attendees each month from July 2021 to March 2022 to gauge attendee comfort level gathering in person and to collect feedback about our planning. To be added to the email list to receive this survey, please email conference@awpwriter.org.

 

#AWP22 Health & Safety Policy Contents

 

Recent AWP Health & Safety Updates

Vaccination

COVID-19 Testing

Masking

Liability Waiver

Travel

Compliance

Bookfair 

Events

Dining Onsite

Onsite Staffing & Vendors

Increased Venue Sanitization

Registration Cancellation

Registration Transfer

Bookfair Cancellation

#AWP22 Health & Safety FAQ

 

Recent AWP Health & Safety Updates

August Health & Safety Update #AWP22

Latest guidance from the City of Philadelphia

Latest guidance from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Latest guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

 

Vaccination

Attendees of #AWP22 must be fully vaccinated with a CDC- or WHO-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. Alternately, a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test taken 72 hours prior to the meeting may be provided in lieu of a vaccination. AWP will be using the company CrowdPass to verify vaccination status. Specific instructions about the process for providing your information will be posted soon.

To be considered fully vaccinated, you must receive the second dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or the only dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine no later than March 9, 2022, in order to attend on March 23, 2022.

If you need help finding a vaccine, we encourage you to check out https://www.vaccines.gov. If you have lost your proof of vaccination, visit your state health department’s website, many of which keep vaccinations records.

 

COVID-19 Testing

Only a viral diagnostic test result will be accepted. An antibody test is not sufficient proof for entry to #AWP22.

AWP will be using the company CrowdPass to verify negative diagnostic tests. More information about providing your negative viral diagnostic test will be posted soon.

If you need assistance finding a testing location, please visit https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/community-based-testing-sites/index.html.

 

Masking

Wearing a mask is required in all #AWP22 venues, including the contracted space in the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown. Masks are required regardless of vaccination status. Exceptions are provided for attendees with disabilities who are unable to wear a mask.

 

Liability Waiver

While we at AWP are doing all we can to reduce risk for onsite attendance, AWP cannot guarantee there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 while attending #AWP22. All in-person attendees must agree to the following liability waiver, included in the Attendee Terms & Conditions.

Attendee assumes all risks and accepts sole responsibility for any injury (including, but not limited to: personal injury, disability, and death), illness, damage, loss, claim, liability, or expense of any kind that attendee may experience or incur in connection with attending the AWP Conference & Bookfair. Attendee hereby releases, covenants not to sue, discharges, and holds harmless the AWP Conference & Bookfair, its employees, agents, and representatives, of and from any such claims, including all liabilities, claims, actions, damages, costs, or expenses of any kind arising out of or relating thereto.

Specifically relating to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the attendee acknowledges the highly contagious nature of COVID-19 and voluntarily assumes the risk of exposure or infection by attending the AWP Conference & Bookfair, and that such exposure or infection may result in personal injury, illness, disability, and/or death to attendee. Attendee understands the risk of becoming exposed to or infected by COVID-19 at the AWP Conference & Bookfair may result from the actions, omissions, or negligence of others who may attend the event or their families, colleagues, or others with whom they may have contact. Accordingly, attendee understands and agrees that this release includes any claims based on the actions, omissions or negligence of the AWP, its employees, agents, and representatives, whether a COVID-19 infection occurs before, during, or after participation in the AWP Conference & Bookfair.

In addition to all other rules and regulations relating to the attendee’s attendance at the AWP Conference & Bookfair, the attendee agrees to comply with all COVID-related procedures that may be implemented by AWP, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, and the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, including, but not limited to, mask-wearing and social distancing requirements and restrictions on certain activities that carry higher COVID-related risk, in order to protect as much as possible the health and safety of all Conference attendees.

 

Travel

AWP recommends all attendees, exhibitors, and AWP staff and board comply with all travel guidelines issued by the CDC when travelling to Philadelphia, PA.

 

Compliance

All attendees of #AWP22 must comply with all COVID-19 health and safety precautions and policies. If you are found to be in violation of any of these policies, you will be removed from the conference venue(s) with no refund.

 

Bookfair

The bookfair is held in a hall that is approximately 213,000 square feet, which allows for attendees to distance themselves as they explore the bookfair. The exhibit hall will include greater spacing between exhibits. Aisles between exhibits will measure between ten and thirty feet wide to allow for spaced flow of traffic.

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Convention Center has made several air quality improvements in the building, including increased air exchange during event hours, replacing HVAC air filters with higher efficiency models, and implementing advanced plasma air purification technology.

 

Events

For in-person events, we will have distanced seating options available and capacity maximums in each session room. Speakers will be placed six feet away from the first row of seats to accommodate speakers who may want to remove their mask while they are actively speaking during their conference event. We have made this masking exception for presenter comfort and speech clarity and for those who may need to lip read. Microphones and head tables will be sanitized between events.

Speakers are not required to remove their masks. For those who may need to see facial expression or need to lip-read, AWP will provide a number of FDA-approved clear masks to be provided to presenters who request them and who do not feel comfortable speaking without a mask. Clear mask requests can be made by emailing events@awpwriter.org.

 

Dining Onsite

Individually packaged and grab-and-go concessions will be available onsite. Tables and chairs will be provided in the exhibit hall with social distancing in mind. When actively eating and drinking in this area, attendees may remove masks.

 

Onsite Staffing & Vendors

All staff of the Pennsylvania Convention Center are required to be fully vaccinated by October 1, 2021, with limited exceptions as may be required by law.

AWP will do its best to contract with vendors who can provide a fully vaccinated and masked staff onsite. In cases where this may not be possible, we will work with that vendor to minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread.

 

Increased Venue Sanitization

The Pennsylvania Convention Center has received Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR accreditation, making it one of the only large venues in the northeast to receive this gold standard for safe venues. This accreditation ensures that the venue is effective in minimizing risks associated with infectious agents, biohazards, and infectious disease and that they employ cleaning professionals who are trained for outbreak and infectious disease preparation and response. In addition, all added health and safety measures implemented during the pandemic will be kept in place, including disinfection of high-touch surfaces and objects, added hand-sanitizing stations, and improved HVAC and air purification.

Our headquarters hotel is the Marriott Philadelphia Downtown. Marriott has launched their Commitment to Clean program to provide travelers with a safe environment while traveling. Their Commitment to Clean includes closely monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization’s statements regarding safety guidelines. Other areas in which they have upgraded their health and safety protocols include face coverings, minimizing guest contact, enhanced technologies for surface area and public space cleaning, housekeeping, and food safety.

 

Registration Cancellation

AWP advises attendees to wait until they are certain of their in-person attendance to purchase registration, as purchases are nonrefundable. The early-bird registration period has been extended to accommodate those who need more time to decide on their in-person attendance.

If you purchase an in-person registration and later decide that you will not be attending the in-person conference due to concern over COVID-19, we can provide a credit for future conference registration purchases equal to the difference between your in-person registration and a virtual registration. The deadline to request such a credit is the last day of the conference, March 26, 2022.

If you do not feel well or are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, we ask that you do not attend. If this applies to you, please let us know and we can provide a credit for future conference registration purchases equal to the difference between your in-person registration and a virtual registration.

If you would like to request a cancellation, please fill out a cancellation request form by March 26, 2022. Please note it may take up to three weeks to receive a credit in your account.

All registration purchases are nonrefundable.

 

Registration Transfer

A registration may be transferred to another individual, provided that this individual is not already registered, the registration is used for the same conference, and the individual qualifies for the type of registration being transferred. For example, a student registration can only be transferred to another student. For more information about registration transfers, please contact registration@awpwriter.org.

 

Bookfair Cancellation

Bookfair purchases are final and nonrefundable.

Please be aware that if you would like to cancel additional in-person, non-BSA registrations associated with your exhibit space, they need to be handled separately from your exhibit space. If you would like to request a registration cancellation, you will need to fill out a registration cancellation form by March 26, 2022. Please note it may take up to three weeks to receive a credit in the purchaser user’s account.

 

#AWP22 Health & Safety FAQ

 

Why is AWP having an in-person meeting at all? Why not just do a virtual conference like last year?

Based on the monthly COVID-19 survey results that AWP has been sending out to past attendees, there is a desire for meeting in person this year with added COVID-19 precautions in place. As of September 2021, approximately 60% of those surveyed said that they would prefer to attend onsite, so long as vaccination and masking were required. Our goal is to host a safe and valuable conference for the AWP community, and we are committed to following health and safety protocols that include masking and vaccination requirements. We are actively providing information about AWP’s COVID-19 precautions and protocols to help people make their own informed choice about their attendance in person.  

Of course, no matter what precautions we put in place, there is still some risk that not all attendees are comfortable taking. For those who do not feel comfortable, we are happy to have a virtual registration available to enjoy from the comfort of home.

 

Will I need to be fully vaccinated to attend #AWP22 in-person?

All attendees will need to be fully vaccinated to attend #AWP22 or provide a negative COVID-19 diagnostic test no longer than 72 hours prior to attendee arrival.

 

Why are vaccinations required at #AWP22?

COVID-19 vaccines currently FDA-approved or authorized for emergency use in the United States have high efficacy against symptomatic disease, including moderate to severe illness. Many companies, agencies, and large gatherings have required similar measures, and we feel this is the only way for our community to gather safely.

 

What if I want to attend but am not able to be fully vaccinated?

You may also provide a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours prior to your arrival at the conference.

 

How do I provide proof of vaccination?

Information about the process to verify your vaccination status will be posted soon.

 

How do I provide a negative COVID-19 test?

Information about the process to verify your negative COVID-19 diagnostic test will be posted soon.

 

Will I need to wear a mask during #AWP22?

Yes, masks will be required, unless an attendee has an exemption for disability. As of August 12, 2021, the City of Philadelphia requires masks indoors at all businesses and institutions that do not require vaccination for all employees and patrons.

Mask-wearing has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

 

If I’m vaccinated, why am I also required to wear a mask?

There will be many in the AWP community who are vaccinated and would prefer not to wear a mask; however, there are others you may interact with onsite who are not able to get the vaccine due to a disability, age, or who share a household with someone ineligible to get the vaccine. For example, consider parents sharing a household with unvaccinated children under 12 or with family members who cannot get the vaccine.

Vaccinated people can still carry and spread COVID-19 to the unvaccinated. We ask that everyone take this additional measure to protect your fellow attendees.

 

What if I have a disability that prevents me from wearing a mask?

If you have a disability and cannot wear a mask safely or for long periods of time, you may go without a mask at the conference. We ask that all attendees are aware of this exception.

With the concern around COVID-19, we understand some attendees may take it upon themselves to reinforce the mask mandate if they see someone without a mask. While we hope that attendees bear this exception in mind, it’s possible someone may try to question the fact that another attendee is not wearing a mask. If you cannot wear a mask due to a disability, please reach out to us at events@awpwriter.org and we can provide you with a registration badge onsite indicating this mask exception.  

For the safety of everyone in attendance, only those who are unable to wear a mask because of a disability are exempt. Unfortunately, we cannot provide further exceptions.

 

I am in the d/Deaf and/or hard of hearing community, and mask policies make communication difficult for me. What can be done to mitigate this difficulty?

We are thinking about ways to make a masked conference as accessible as possible for those who are in the d/Deaf community or who may be hard of hearing. We are consulting with our Ad Hoc Committee on Conference Accessibility and taking in suggestions through our monthly COVID-19 attendee survey to deliver the very best accessibility policies and services.

We are encouraging attendees, ASL and CART interpreters, bookfair exhibitors, volunteers, and staff to download the Make It Big mobile app to communicate with those who are d/Deaf and hard of hearing. This app allows for easier communication in an accessible, large-text format.

American Sign Language, CART, and Cued Speech is available upon request for all onsite conference events taking place virtually or in person and for the bookfair onsite.

More information about #AWP22 accessibility services can be found on our Accessibility Services webpage.

 

Why can’t I purchase a registration yet?

AWP decided to release the COVID-19 policy prior to the opening of registration to give everyone in the community time to digest this information and to take some time to decide whether attending the in-person meeting is the right choice for them.

Registration for the in-person and virtual conference will open in October.

 

What if I purchase a registration now and then I find I’m not comfortable attending in person later? Can I get a refund?

While we cannot offer refunds, we can provide you with a credit equal to the difference between your in-person registration and the lower cost virtual registration if you fill out a registration cancellation form by March 26, 2022. Please see our full registration policy for details or email registration@awpwriter.org with questions.

 

I don’t feel comfortable attending in person. Is there a virtual option?

Yes! We will be offering many virtual events and selected livestreamed events from the in-person conference. You may purchase a virtual-only registration and take advantage of enjoying many prerecorded and livestreamed events from the comfort of your home.  

 

Does my in-person registration include virtual access?

Yes! All in-person registrations include access to all virtual content.

 

What is AWP’s advice for someone who is feeling uncertain about attending in-person?

Our best advice is to wait to purchase in-person registration until you are certain of your attendance, as we cannot refund your purchase. Alternately, you could go ahead and purchase your virtual registration now and then upgrading your virtual registration to an in-person registration later. Our early-bird registration rate, which offers the lowest registration rates, usually ends in October, but we have extended our lowest rates to February 2022 to accommodate those who need more time to decide about attending onsite.

 

What if I don’t agree with your in-person COVID-19 policies and requirements?

We understand that not everyone will agree or support the requirements of attendance at #AWP22. However, for the health and safety of all, we feel we have an obligation to err on the side of reducing risk as much as possible, especially for the most vulnerable in our community.

Surveys will continue to be sent out asking for comfort level and written feedback on our COVID-19 measures. If you would like to be added to the email list to fill out a survey, please email your request to conference@awpwriter.org. Conference organizers review all feedback and we will be sure to read and consider your comments.

We encourage anyone who still wants to participate but not abide by our in-person requirements to check out the virtual #AWP22 conference.


What if someone contracts COVID-19 onsite? What is the protocol for the affected attendee and for all attendees?

AWP staff will be consulting with local and state health officials about the best protocol for onsite handling of COVID-19 cases. This protocol will be sent out to all attendees well in advance of the conference and signage will be posted onsite.

If a case of COVID-19 occurs onsite, there will also be a public protocol for reporting that case to AWP and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in addition to a posted protocol for how AWP plans to communicate with attendees about such an occurrence. 

 

What happens if it’s not safe to meet in person in March 2022 or the in-person conference is cancelled?

If we have to cancel the in-person conference, the final decision to do so will be made no later than early January 2022.

In the event that the in-person conference would be cancelled, AWP would

·      Notify all attendees via email by early January 2022

·      Pivot as much programming as possible to a virtual format and host the conference in a completely virtual way

·      Create an account credit for those who paid for in-person registrations equal to the difference between the in-person registration and the lower cost virtual registration (this credit may be used toward future registration purchases)

·      Encourage those who booked hotel rooms in AWP hotel blocks to cancel their reservation by the February cut-off date with no penalty. Unfortunately, AWP has no control over non-AWP hotel room blocks. Likewise, AWP has no control over airline cancellations or refund policies. 

 

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