President's Calling - Safety First

Published September 1, 2021

Safety First

Dear Academy membership:
As we head into September, students are returning to schools, (many) employees are returning to offices, and we have the Delta variant creating a second wave of the pandemic sweeping across the nation. 
As we look towards the upcoming annual meeting, I wanted to take a moment and cover some of the safety procedures we are planning for Academy 2021 Boston. 
First, you’ll recall in late April we issued an “Intent to Attend” survey to gauge our attendees’ level of comfortability in attending an in-person meeting; granted, that was in the Spring, and here we are in the Fall with the Delta variant peaking. However, we used this information as a baseline to help identify safety precautions for the meeting. 
Since that time, your Board of Directors continue to monitor the situation to assess and determine the best course of action. Since the CDC has not rescinded its guidelines regarding large public gatherings, we have continued with our planning. Recognizing there are still loyal Fellows and attendees who may not be able to travel due to health concerns, travel restrictions still in place, or simply do not want to travel, we will be offering a virtual meeting, following the in-person Boston meeting, December 3-5. More details will be shared in future communications. 
Continuing with our on-site planning, and following the CDC Guidelines, we are also monitoring the State of Massachusetts’ and City of Boston’s guidelines and will work in conjunction with the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) and official Academy hotels to ensure we have the necessary processes and procedures in place at the time of the meeting. 
With that, at this point in time the Academy is planning the following:
  • The City of Boston has recently mandated mask usage in public spaces. The Academy feels masks serve as a secondary layer of protection and will mandate masks to be worn in all areas of the convention center. Mask requirements for the individual hotels is at the hotels' discretion and we encourage you to be mindful and abide by their requests.
  • While vaccination or proof of vaccination is not mandatory, the Academy highly encourages all attendees, exhibitors, industry partners, and staff to be fully vaccinated prior to the meeting (full vaccination means both doses plus the two week "incubation period" following the second dose).
  • For those not vaccinated, the Academy will be partnering with Avellino Labs to provide onsite rapid COVID-19 testing in the Academy Wellness Area. This testing option will also be available for anyone traveling internationally and requiring a test prior to returning.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be prominently dispersed throughout the BCEC.
  • Enhanced cleaning and frequency throughout the BCEC.
  • We will offer a "traffic light" system to help you determine if your colleagues' level of comfortability with greetings: "hug," "fist bump/handshake," or "wave from afar."
While we are all eager to gather after months apart, we want to do so as safely as possible and want our attendees, industry partners, and exhibitors to know that your safety is our top priority.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will be increasing event communications to keep you apprised of general information as well as safety procedures and processes.
Stay safe and be well –
Timothy McMahon, OD, FAAO