Health & Safety Resources

Annual Conference Health & Safety Expectations

Updated January 2, 2022

We are planning for and excited to welcome attendees to our in-person annual conference – we can’t wait to be back on the Plaza with you. At this time, we will not cancel the event unless circumstances beyond our control preclude us from meeting in person as planned. We are keenly aware that in several areas of the country COVID-19 cases continue to be on the rise, and we are actively monitoring all local, state, and CDC guidelines related to hosting an event in Kansas City.

What You Can Expect at the Conference

In the spirit of care for our community, Great Plains IDEA is requiring all in-person conference registrants to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 prior to participating in conference activities. This requirement is consistent with a growing trend for conferences and similar events/activities across the United States and university guidelines. We will keep attendees informed about what to expect on-site in Kansas City through direct email, Alliance Insider posts, as well as updates to our website.

We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust our protocols and practices as we get closer to the event, but here are a few things you can expect at our in-person event:

  • Be Vaccinated or Get Tested: We are requiring all registrants to be fully vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 within three days of the conference. “Fully vaccinated" means that either 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of FDA or WHO authorized (or emergency use authorized) double-dozed vaccines or single-dose vaccine. We encourage all those who are able to receive the booster prior to the conference to take advantage of the extra level of safety available.
  • Wear a Mask: Regardless of vaccination status, attendees are expected to wear face masks during all conference activities except while actively eating/drinking or presenting in a space where social distancing is possible. We strongly encourage attendees to bring their own masks that cover the nose and mouth, fit snugly against the sides of the face, and can be worn comfortably all day. Masks will be available on-site if you need one. Attendees who cannot wear masks due to a health condition should consult a medical professional about possible alternatives. We also recommend attendees wear masks while traveling to and from the event and follow COVID-safe practices in the weeks leading up to the event.
  • Social Distance: We have designed a conference space that allows attendees to spread out to their level of comfort and we encourage attendees to make use of the ample space available. And while we are all very much looking forward to warmly greeting and interacting with each other, consider alternatives to traditional greetings (e.g., offering a wave or ahead nod in place of shaking hands). Be mindful that fellow attendees might be less comfortable than you with close contact or sharing spaces. Attendees will have the option to add stickers to their name badge to indicate their comfort level for close contact, and we ask that these preferences be respected.
  • Be Mindful of Your Own Health: If you or someone you’ve had close contact with has recently tested positive for COVID-19 or hasn’t been feeling well for any reason, please stay home. We’re happy to provide Zoom links for program meetings to ensure you can still participate in those important conversations with your colleagues.

We will continue to be transparent with you about the realities of planning an in-person event with so many new considerations to keep in mind. We appreciate that many of you are navigating your own challenges, and we are so grateful for your patience as we collectively find our way through the current environment. We remain committed to our mission of serving learners through collaboration and believe our time together helps to inspire and connect us all.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Great Plains IDEA requiring the COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative test result for all attendees? Will I be required to show proof of my vaccine?

We are requiring all registrants to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID-19 within three days of the conference. “Fully vaccination" means that either 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of FDA or WHO authorized (or emergency use authorized) double-dozed vaccines or single-dose vaccine. We will not be asking for proof of vaccination or test results, as we trust folks will make decisions with the good of their colleagues in mind.

Is Great Plains IDEA requiring masking at the conference?

At this time, attendees will be asked to wear masks during all conference activities except while actively eating/drinking. We will continue to monitor and reference the Reopening Guidelines issued by Kansas City, MO.

Because Great Plains IDEA is providing food and beverage at this conference, what safety precautions are being taken?

In an effort to maintain a safe environment, all meals will be served buffet style with hotel staff serving the food. This will ensure there is limited contact with serving utensils and buffet items.

What if I'm not comfortable shaking hands or being hugged?

We will widely distribute pandemic etiquette messaging, letting attendees know about protocols such as whether it is okay not to handshake or hug, reminding attendees to wash or sanitize hands often, and to always respect others' personal space.

You will also be given the opportunity to community your level of comfort in interacting with colleagues through color-coded stickers for your name tag, as noted below.

  • Red – Greet from six feet!
  • Yellow – Elbows only!
  • Green – Handshakes and hi-fives welcome!

Are public spaces being regularly sanitized?

Yes. The Marriott has increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection, particularly in areas with high traffic including restrooms, elevators, and escalators as well as provided more hand sanitizing stations throughout the hotel. Check out the KC Marriott Country Club Plaza's What to Expect in the Age of COVID-19  for additional hotel-specific information.

If Great Plains IDEA is forced to cancel the in-person conference in Kansas City, will I get a refund for my registration funds?

Yes. In the unfortunate event of a cancellation, all attendees will be refunded their conference registration fee. Guests may cancel their hotel reservations up to 48 hours prior to the reservation and receive a full refund.

Health & Safety Resources

Great Plains IDEA recommends that all participants screen themselves daily for symptoms. Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after exposure to the virus.

Know the Symptoms: The following symptoms are outlined on the CDC website indicating an individual may have COVID-19:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Individuals who have these symptoms and are unwell should not attend the Great Plains IDEA Annual Conference. Additionally, if the person is onsite, affected individuals should notify the lead institution to allow for additional communication to participants.

Reduce Your Risks: Guests may also reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 by engaging in the following practices:

  • Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If water is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Personnel must be able to wash their hands after touching any surface/tool suspected of being contaminated, before and after eating or using the restroom, and before touching their face.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practicing physical distancing
  • Wearing a mask when indoors
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home while sick and avoiding close contact with others
  • Covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing, and immediately disposing of the used tissue

For further information, please visit the following websites:

The World Health Organization (WHO)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)