CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Press Association has canceled its 2020 convention, which had been set for Aug. 6-8 in Charleston, W.Va.
WVPA Executive Director Don Smith has issued to the following statement to the membership:
It is with much regret that I am notifying you of cancellation of the West Virginia Press Association’s Convention in August of 2020.
While this was a difficult decision to make, we are certain that this is the best and safest choice for your employees, our attendees, guests and staff.
An event such as convention must be planned months in advance. The necessary commitments aren’t possible as West Virginia deals with the coronavirus.
Our Board of Directors has been monitoring the situation and several factors came into play:
· West Virginia is in State of Emergency with no definite end date, especially in terms of social distancing and crowd limitations
· Kanawha County has one of the state’s highest positive COVID case totals
· WV Press Convention brings visitors from across the state and nation, which is now an uncertain option and a possible health hazard to all involved
· It’s unclear if our 2020 convention site would be fully operational with sales staff in place and able to handle our convention without social restrictions or health concerns
Additionally, there is fear among public health officials that there will be more waves of the virus in the coming months. Although agency guidance has varied, it is likely social distancing efforts will remain in effect, making gatherings such as our convention doubtful.
WV Press was not comfortable asking our newspapers to send staff to an event that might put their employees at a health risk.
There is also the real risk that the event would have to be canceled at the last minute, creating additional scheduling and financial issues for the employees, newspapers, guests, sponsors and the association.
With so many factors uncertain in the state and at the hotel, WV Press is unable to plan and promote the event with any certainty, or, more importantly, to ensure the safety of your employees, our guests and our staff.
With that in mind and by unanimous vote of our Board of Directors, it was agreed that the only socially responsible option is to cancel our 2020 annual convention, set for Aug. 6-8.
While not a replacement for convention, WV Press is working on online events related to our traditional convention plans. We hope your staff can plan to celebrate the staff achievements and participate in some of the virtual events. We will provide each newspaper with a CD of the awards presentations, along with their plaques and certificates. And we are working on special convention/contest materials to deliver to your newspapers to help with your celebration.
The staff and board of directors of the West Virginia Press Association hope you and your employees are staying healthy and remaining safe.
West Virginia Press Association