The NCA Annual Convention and COVID-19

Updated 9/21/2021

COVID-19 Considerations 

The NCA 107th Annual Convention in Seattle will take place as a face-to-face meeting. We are excited about the return to our typical convention format, but we also hear and understand the concerns of  attendees regarding travel, group meetings, and COVID variants. We are committed to following facility, city, state, and federal guidance regarding the health and safety of attendees.

We recognize that attendees may have questions and concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to providing our attendees with the latest information about the 107th convention and preparations in light of COVID-19. This page will serve as the hub for that commitment. This page is intended to provide members with information and keep members updated regarding plans for the convention. Because the situation is somewhat fluid, the page will be updated frequently.

Why the NCA Convention will not be fully virtual:

There are several factors that contributed to the decision to not host another fully virtual convention. First, we received a lot of feedback that people miss the in-person convention experience. Second, the cost of cancelling our contract with the hotels and convention center  would be $929,789. Last year, hotels were willing to make adjustments based on the status of the pandemic. However, with rising vaccination rates and the latest scientific information about COVID, many hotels are, in general, unwilling to waive such terms in the contracts. 

What will be available virtually?

NCA will be livestreaming nine sessions for public access. These sessions will include the Opening Session focused on Indigenous Peoples; the Carroll C. Arnold Distinguished Lecture delivered by Dr. Tina M. Harris; the Saturday afternoon Presidential Address delivered by Dr. David T. McMahan, followed by the NCA Awards Presentation; the four sessions in the “Renewal and Transformation” series (Democracy, Discipline, Disruption, and Dissent); and two special sessions, one focusing on countering anti-Asian violence and one exploring alternative academic careers. 

Why isn’t the convention more/fully hybrid? 

The NCA 107th Annual Convention will sponsor, at times, more than 60 concurrent sessions, with a total of more than 1,100 sessions between Thursday and Sunday. All of this will happen at the convention center and one of the convention hotels. Creating and formally supporting a mostly/fully hybrid meeting is more complicated than using a laptop and locating a Wi-Fi signal. It involves equipping every in-person session room with microphones, speakers, projector, screen, video camera, and computer. In addition, a paid technician would need to operate the equipment in each session room. Internet access, which is managed and controlled by contracted firms at each facility, must also be purchased to wire each room with sufficient bandwidth to host video streaming. The total cost of making the Annual Convention fully hybrid would exceed $1 million, nearly double the cost of a typical Annual Convention (see infographic below). Beyond cost, bandwidth capabilities of the convention sites are simply not sufficient to support a convention of our size. 

Are COVID-19 vaccinations required for attendees?

A health order was issued by King County in the state of Washington on September 16, 2021 that requires that patrons of indoor restaurants, bars, and taverns with seating capacity of 12 and more, and entertainment and recreational establishments including exhibition halls and convention centers, must provide verification that that they are fully vaccinated prior to entry. To view King County guidance on vaccination verification, click here.

Our two convention venues in Seattle, the Washington State Convention Center and the public spaces including restaurants and bars in the Sheraton Hotel, will be subject to compliance with this order.

For purposes of this health order, “fully vaccinated” means that a person has received all the required doses of an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine (two doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine) or a WHO-authorized COVID-19 vaccine series, and 14 days have passed since the final dose. 

Consequently, all attendees at our 2021 Convention will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated and should be prepared to present their CDC COVID-19 Vaccine Record card or photo of their card or documentation of vaccine administration record from a vaccine provider, including an individual’s doctor, pharmacy, or other official immunization record from within or outside the United States, including a photo or photocopy.

As an alternative to providing vaccine verification, prior to entry individuals must provide digital or printed documentation from a testing agent, including a laboratory, health care provider, or pharmacy of a negative FDA-approved PCR test administered within 72 hours prior to arriving at the hotel or convention center. 

According to the King County health order, please note that medical and religious vaccine exemptions are not accepted in place of vaccine verification or documentation of a negative COVID-19 test. 

For Those Attending the Annual Convention:

  • NCA will be following relevant federal, state, and local laws and guidelines in hosting the Annual Convention and will adjust plans based on changes in these laws and guidelines.
  • Per the current King County Health Order, all convention attendees must bring proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test for entry to hotels, the convention center, and local restaurants.  
  • Per the health order, we ask that members who are unvaccinated stay home, stay safe, and do not travel to attend our convention. 
  • Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness on-site should quarantine in their room until obtaining a negative COVID-19 test. 
  • Wearing a mask will be required at the NCA Annual Convention in accordance with the Washington state renewed mask mandate that requires that everyone wear masks indoors, even people who are fully vaccinated. 
  • To help ensure attendee safety, NCA will:
    • Place hand sanitizing stations throughout convention meeting space.
    • Keep a stock of masks in the registration area.
    • Provide packages of sanitizing wipes in all meeting rooms to allow participants to wipe down high-touch surfaces.
  • Note that per the U.S. Census Bureau, 92.2 percent of the U.S. population holding a bachelor’s degree or higher had received at least one vaccine dose as of 9/20/2021.

To Facilitate Attendance:

  • To help defray the costs associated with student attendance at the Annual Convention, NCA offers:
    • Student Caucus Travel Grants, which provide $350 for qualifying students who are NCA caucus members. For more information, visit the Student Caucus Travel Grants page.
    • Student volunteer opportunities, which provide free convention registration to a limited number of students in exchange for volunteer work completed during the convention. For more information, visit the Volunteer Information page.
    • A limited number of discounted student rooms available at a 25 percent reduced rate at the Westin. The discounted student rooms will be assigned on a random lottery basis. For more information, visit the Hotel and Travel page
  • We have also pushed back the deadline for the Early Bird Registration rate. It is now October 1 (instead of September 17). 

Presenters presenting research papers who are unable to attend may still have their paper delivered in one of two ways: 

  • Paper presentations may be delivered by someone else who is attending.
  • Paper presentations may be pre-recorded and, prior to the convention, sent to the session chair who can download the material to their personal computer and play it during the session. This would require that the presentation room has an AV set up. To confirm the AV capabilities of your presentation room, email convention@natcom.org
  • Due to the session format, panel discussion/roundtable discussion participants will not be able to pre-record their contributions to the panel.
  • Per the Professional Standards for Convention Participants, all those who are accepted and appear on the program are expected to register.
  • Best Practices for Pre-recorded Presentations

Resources:

What about future NCA conventions?

A Future Conventions Task Force is in the process of being convened, with the specific mission of considering various options for the long-term format vision for NCA conventions and with the charge of making a series of recommendations to NCA’s Executive Committee. The initial expectation is that a task force report will be submitted for consideration during the August 2022 Executive Committee meeting. 

 

Click here for an enlargeable version of the infographic below.
Infographic of estimated cost comparison between in-person and hybrid convention