03/18/20: With the ongoing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the recommendations from health officials at the state and national level to limit social contact and public gatherings, we will be moving our Pocono Retreat to an online conference format. While keeping the health and safety of our members, our faculty, and our communities in mind, it is our hope that we can still provide quality programming for our members and participants.
We will hold our online conference on April 18 with a mix of live and prerecorded segments. We have reached out to our faculty and member presenters with this alternative plan, and we are working on setting up the technology. Although the event will be one day as opposed to three days, all registrants will have access to ALL breakout sessions (not just the four they would have had access to at our in-person event) and for an extended time after the conference. In addition, we will still organize peer-to-peer critiques and written faculty critiques. We are extending our submission deadline for faculty critiques to March 28 to accommodate those who decide to register now that the retreat has moved to an online format.
We are postponing our banner contest and our silent auction, although we still intend to have those later in the year, so please stay tuned for more details on those events.
Highlights will be offering either a 100% refund of room and board or credit toward a future Highlights workshop to all current registrants. Registrants who have already paid for room and board at Highlights will need to contact Jo Lloyd directly (firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-512-8365 or 570-251-4557) and she will process the credit or refund.
It is our sincere hope that by bringing you full access to all conference content, we will be able to provide our members with even more quality programming than what would have been available at the retreat, although we will miss being together in person. Registration is still open here, and we hope to “see” many of you on April 18. If, however, there is any reason you need to cancel your registration, we understand, and SCBWI will offer full refunds for cancelations during this public health crisis.
Our regional team members are so grateful for the support and leadership of SCBWI Headquarters, who are monitoring the situation closely and working with all regional leadership to ensure that everyone’s health is protected.
We will be sending out more details about the online conference to registrants soon. Thank you for your understanding and patience during this hectic time. We look forward to the near future when we can all meet in person again.
03/12/20: As the situation with coronavirus continues to evolve daily, please know that we are constantly monitoring the latest information and will continue to post updates as they occur. We are actively working to still provide the best programing for our members, while taking all health concerns into account. At this point we are taking the following measures:
Meet & Greets: All scheduled Meet & Greets will be cancelled through April 15. We will continue with Meet & Greets once the threat to public health has passed.
Picture Book Masterclass: We are working with the Free Library of Philadelphia and our faculty to reschedule Meeting 2 of the Picture Book Masterclass (originally scheduled for March 28). More information will be forthcoming to those who are registered.
Pocono Retreat: We are actively considering all options to still bring the best programming for our members, including the possibility of a remote (online) conference. Please be patient as we explore all options. We will update you as things progress.
Critique Groups: We will be contacting all critique group leaders to provide the latest recommendations from the PA Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Critique group leaders will work with their individual groups to decide the best course of action to suit the group’s needs.
Recommendations from the PA Department of Health:
- Cover coughs or sneezes with your elbow. Do not use your hands!
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Clean surfaces frequently, including countertops, light switches, cell phones, remotes, and other frequently touched items.
- Contain: if you are sick, stay home until you are feeling better.
Additionally the CDC recommends avoiding those who are sick and putting distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 is spreading throughout your community. Throw used tissues in the trash and immediately wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. More information can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention.html.
03/09/20: As you might imagine, we have been monitoring the coronavirus situation closely. The situation is dynamic and changing rapidly. Here is the latest statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health.
Our current plan is to proceed with the 2020 Pocono Retreat on April 17-19, and to take extra precautions (outlined below). That said, if you are in a high-risk population, and/or are concerned about coronavirus for any reason, and you decide to cancel your registration, we understand. The health and safety of our members and our faculty is our first priority.
During this period of public health concerns, SCBWI has modified its event cancellation/refund policy as follows: If you or a member of your family are or have been sick and you therefore cannot attend an event, you will be able to receive a full tuition refund up until the day of the event so that you can stay home, take care of yourself and your family, and prevent the spread of illness. If you or a member of your family has a condition that compromises their immunity defenses, you may also request a refund should you choose to stay home. Please contact us at email@example.com if you have questions about this change in policy or need to cancel and request a refund for your tuition. (Note that Highlights has a separate cancellation policy for room and board. You will need to contact them separately to cancel your accommodations, and to inquire about their separate cancellation policy.)
All of that said, we very much hope to see most of you there in April! In keeping with the recommendations from public health officials, we are planning these extra precautions and we encourage everyone to follow basic practices that can help prevent the spread of illness. For example,
- While at the conference, please wash your hands frequently, both before and after eating or drinking, after sneezing, blowing your nose, and at any other time you consider appropriate. The CDC recommends drying hands with disposable paper towels rather than using a blower. Also try to avoid touching your face.
- We will be offering hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes to supplement regular hand washing. Finding these supplies has been tricky, so note that we may have limited quantities. Please bring your own if possible. (Hand sanitizer must have 60%+ alcohol content to be effective.)
- We will be taking extra care to wipe down commonly touched surfaces (doorknobs, etc.) with antibacterial wipes frequently throughout the day.
- Try to avoid shaking hands and giving hugs—let’s wave for now.
- Anyone who has a fever or has a family member who has had a fever within 48 hours of the conference should not come to the conference. We are aware that testing is limited, so if you have had an illness with symptoms that might be the coronavirus during the 14-day period prior to an event, please do not attend.
- Anyone who develops symptoms while at the conference should notify one of the Regional Advisors or an Assistant Regional Advisor or the Illustrator Coordinator immediately.
Note: masks are not recommended for people who are not sick.
If you are sick and cannot attend the conference, you will be able to receive a full tuition refund up until the day of the conference so that you can stay home, take care of yourself, and prevent the spread of illness.
As events unfold in the coming weeks, we will keep you updated if anything changes.
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you to SCBWI headquarters for their continuing guidance and assistance in preparing our response.
—Lindsay, Rona, Laura, and Berrie