(See below for Safety Transparency statement)
Dear GAEL Stakeholders,
I wanted to send you a thorough update on our opening for the 48th Annual Summer GAEL Conference this week. Here’s the short story, and then read on for the long version:
We have temporarily paused registration for the face-to-face/in-person Summer GAEL Conference as of this evening.
First, thank you. The registration response has been overwhelming, and beyond our expectations. Apparently, some educational leaders in Georgia are ready to get to Jekyll Island for some professional learning and networking! 🙂
Second, because of the huge demand and our desire to keep the conference as comfortable and safe as possible, we have had to limit the registration capacity of the conference this year.
We are in constant talks with the Jekyll Island Convention Center, and while we know that many state-level restrictions are lifting for social distancing (and it is possible more restrictions will be lifted this summer), the Convention Center has set a “responsible” maximum in light of current regulations for now. It might go up a tad in a few weeks, but for now, we are at our max per current regulations of the day.
This means that we are looking now at about 800 (possibly 900) people in the room together, which has held 1100-1500 for past GAEL conferences.
Again, it is “possible” we will add another 100-140 slots or so through a waiting list or re-opened registration in a few weeks. With that said, with every 140 registrants, we add one more chair to a table, and the space between registrants gets smaller and smaller, so we are evaluating carefully and consulting with the Convention Center before we act.
Oh no! I will lose my memberships!
Finally, for those of you who are concerned about losing your memberships for next year in GAEL and our GAEL affiliates, you will still have the livestream option to purchase Professional Learning. With your PL purchase of the livestream conference, we will give you a complimentary membership in GAEL and one GAEL affiliate.
Safety Transparency Statement
I want to make sure all our registrants understand the safety precautions and conditions they will experience before they arrive at the island.
- If you register for the Summer Conference and arrive at the island for a great time of Professional Learning and Networking (and it will be great!), you are coming at your own risk and accept full responsibility for that decision.
- In light of the information above about capacity, we plan to have around 5-7 chairs per table instead of our usual 8-10 chairs per round table. This will give a little more space between persons than normal, but not six feet, which is no longer required by the state of GA.
- We have suspended most breakout sessions to minimize people congregating in small rooms. We are considering the idea of a few sponsored breakouts with limited space, but we will not have room to have normal breakout sessions safely (this year only).
- Masks will be required indoors at all times unless eating and drinking. If you are opposed to wearing masks, with all respect to the diverse opinions of our members, we recommend you register for the livestream conference instead.
- Persons with COVID symptoms in the last 14 days of the conference may not enter. All persons will be required to participate in screening for symptoms to enter.
- Food will be handled differently than a normal Summer GAEL, and it will be served at minimum per Georgia regulations in place at the time of the conference.
I hope everyone reading this will know I am just trying to be real with our members and ensure that nobody comes to the island and gets something they didn’t expect. Usually, the best path is just to be transparent and upfront, and I hope you all will trust that we are just trying to take care of you, but also conduct the conference that you all want so badly.
If we are responsible and all work/cooperate together, it will be an amazing experience. As for me, I have completed my vaccinations, and I am ready to ring the BELL!
Buddy Costley, Executive Director
P.S. If you were not able to register, stay tuned. We may re-0pen for limited seats in a few weeks. Also, remember that you can still register for the livestream option.
Contact Ivy Young at firstname.lastname@example.org
with registration problems or questions