Updated Sep 19, 2021

OUR COVID-19 RESPONSE PLAN

Like many of you, we at SAINTCON are concerned about the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have continued to watch the situation and are growing more uneasy about the implications of new variants and the significant surge in cases in Utah and worldwide. We have followed this development and have been troubled to see that our local healthcare facilities have been stretched overcapacity. We feel a deep need to ensure that we hold our event responsibly and use the best tools at our disposal to prevent health-related issues within our incredible community.

Our conference planning committee met on September 1st, 2021, to discuss our goals and options for safety during the conference. In recent weeks leading up to this meeting, we have deliberated over available data, the myriad of opinions, numerous recommendations, and examples of other successful events amid the current COVID surge. Our deliberations entailed examining multiple scenarios and a detailed discussion of all available tools to help us address our response. This process included direct contact and advice from the Utah County Health Department, Utah Department of Health, and the CDC. In addition, we consulted with other similar event organizers to understand what worked and what did not in each event.

We know that no matter what response we choose for the event that some may disagree. SAINTCON, by its very nature, is an inclusive community, and we are hopeful that our community will understand that we make these decisions based on what we feel is most appropriate and responsible for SAINTCON and the community it serves.

COVID RELATED REQUIREMENTS

Based on the current trends and outcomes from our discussions, the following requirements will be necessary for all in-person attendees:

FACE-MASKS: REQUIRED

SAINTCON 2021 will have a face-mask requirement for all attendees, presenters, staff, volunteers, and others participating in the event. Face masks that are appropriate for the conference must cover the nose and mouth at all times. SAINTCON will provide disposable face-masks for those who forget to bring or otherwise need one.

PROOF OF VACCINE OR ANTIBODIES: REQUIRED

SAINTCON 2021 will require that all participants certify that they have received the vaccine or tested positive for antibodies as a requirement to attend the event. CDC vaccination cards, either physical or electronic, will be checked and compared to the individual’s Photo ID to validate this requirement. Antibody paperwork with your name and date of test within the past 80 days will also work. Afterward, a wristband will be issued to the individual and placed on their arm. Each participant should safeguard the wristband so that it will last the entire week. The wristband will remove any need for further checks on entry.

EXCEPTIONS:

FACE-MASK EXCEPTIONS
The following are the only exceptions we intend to have to full-time mask-wearing:

PRESENTERS / SPEAKERS:
A presenter or speaker may choose to remove their mask while actively presenting at SAINTCON when they are both: 1. The only individual on the stage/platform and 2. Can maintain the appropriate social distance from others. When two or more individuals are delivering a presentation together (co-presenting, panel, etc.) and cannot maintain proper social distance from each other, all individuals involved must wear a mask accordingly.

MEALS:
We have been working with the venue to provide enough tables in our conference rooms and other spaces to allow adequate social distancing while eating. Individuals may remove masks while seated and eating in these areas during the conference. The venue will wipe down tables and other surfaces before and after meals.


VACCINE CARD EXCEPTIONS

ANTIBODY TEST RESULTS
Positive tests for antibodies will be accepted if they are from a reputable lab, have your name on them, and indicate a positive test within the last 80 days prior to the conference.

KIDS NIGHT EVENT
SAINTCON will be holding an optional event to allow attendees to bring their children to the venue. We recognize that many children who attend may not be age-eligible for the vaccine. Thus a standard exception for children unable to receive the vaccine will be in place for this event only, but each child must be able to wear a face mask to attend. Disposable face-masks will be available at the door.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IF IM NO LONGER ABLE TO ATTEND WITH THESE CHANGES?

We understand that changing the attendance requirements may alter the ability of some individuals to attend the conference. It may also impact the desire to participate in SAINTCON based on personal, political, or religious preference and beliefs. Please know that we entirely respect this and will offer full refunds to those unable to attend the conference due specifically to these changes in requirements up until September 9th, 2021.

HOW ARE YOU HANDLING MEDICAL, PERSONAL, RELIGIOUS, EXCEPTIONS?

We have discussed and considered how we would handle anyone who, for a variety of reasons, is unable to wear a mask, or is ineligible for the vaccine, or is unwilling to be vaccinated due to closely held beliefs or personal preference. We respect every individual’s right to decide what is best for them and do not want to disenfranchise anyone individually. However, we cannot accommodate these situations and suggest engaging with us on Discord for the 2021 event and then re-engaging in person in 2022.

CAN I GET A REFUND AFTER SEP 9TH FOR COVID CONCERNS?

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide refunds for registration after September 9th. SAINTCON is a cost-recovery event, meaning that we charge individuals what it costs us to hold the event. With all of the fun things we do, we have to front-load costs to cover badges, materials, keynotes, venue, etc. Most of these costs begin in late August and become fully committed. Issuing refunds after the cutoff is not possible.

COULD SAINTCON STILL BE CANCELLED BEFORE OCTOBER?

NO. There is no scenario where we would cancel SAINTCON altogether. But in the unlikely event that Local, State, or Federal requirements remove our ability to hold the conference as planned, SAINTCON would move to postpone to a later date/time rather than cancel it outright.

SO WILL IT NOW BE A HYBRID EVENT?

No. We have been working to integrate important conference events into Discord, and department heads have been encouraged to include Discord in their event strategies as much as possible. Still, SAINTCON will not be held officially as a hybrid event, meaning that people participating only via Discord will not have the same experience as those attending in person.

WHAT IF I DONT HAVE A VACCINE CARD BUT A POSITIVE ANTIBODY TEST

We will accept Positive Antibody test results as an alternative to a vaccine card.

CAN I USE A FACE SHIELD RATHER THAN A MASK?

No.  You are welcome to wear a face shield and a mask, but unfortunately we can not allow participants to wear face shields alone in lieu of masks.


MESSAGE FROM JUP1T3R

It is my hope that our community will understand the need for these requirements, and that you will engage with us in a positive way to ensure that everyone participating can feel comfortable in their choice to be there in-person.

We regret the need to even have COVID be an influence on our event this year. I feel that we have found the best balance of holding an in-person event in a responsible way with the options we have available. We have an incredible conference planned with a lot of new and ambitious content creators, and hope to see you there, even if it means we only get to see part of your faces.    

If the current COVID surge improves significantly, we may re-assess our requirements before the conference, but we expect these requirements to be in place and should be planned for.

— Jup1t3r

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