Submitted 13 March 2020 by Anne Grauer
It is with deep regret that we write with the news that the American Association of Physical Anthropologists will be cancelling our annual meeting scheduled for April 15-18, 2020. Thank you for your patience as we navigated through this extraordinarily complex decision. We know that our members, registrants, exhibitors, conference professionals and volunteers have dedicated significant time and resources in preparation for this event. We also know that this decision may threaten the AAPA’s financial security, given the variety of contracts necessary for our meetings. However, with recent and ever-changing travel restrictions, the new directive from Gavin Newsom, the Governor of California, to postpone or cancel mass gatherings, along with burgeoning epidemiological data on the spread and virulence of COVID-19, we believe we have no other recourse. The health of all attendees, their families, loved ones, colleagues, and communities is our primary concern. We cannot risk contributing to the spread of COVID-19.
It is clear that the financial ramifications of our meeting cancellation will be felt on many levels. Registrants have purchased airline tickets and made travel arrangements. Our fingers are crossed that airlines will hear our calls of distress and relax their cancellation policies. We know that these disproportionately impact our students, adjunct faculty, and early career attendees whose finances are tight and who look forward to the meeting to showcase their work and build important connections. Importantly, please know that everyone must cancel their own hotel reservations by either contacting the JW Marriott Live LA directly at 1.213.765.8600 or by using their online reservation system.
In an effort to ease the stress, we will honor requests for registration reimbursement. Information regarding programmatic matters, including reimbursement forms, will be posted on our meeting website and emailed to all members and registrants within the next two weeks. We hope that those who are able will consider donating all or a portion of their registration fee to help offset the enormous financial loss that the AAPA could suffer this year. The next few years will be precarious ones for our Association.
On a personal note, missing an occasion to share knowledge and to reconnect with colleagues and friends will be a true loss for us all. For many, this is the one time a year when we know that our geeky tendencies will be celebrated. Maintaining community is thus essential. To meet this goal, we are developing a platform which will allow all registrants the opportunity to upload their posters or PowerPoint presentations to our website. A link to each presentation will appear alongside the presentation title in the AAPA Program online and in our app. We will also encourage session, symposium, and workshop chairs, along with AAPA standing and ad hoc committees, to coordinate remote meetings. Once again, more information about programmatic matters will be provided as we build the infrastructure to support these initiatives. Our goal is to remain a tight-knit group in spite of the thousands of miles that separate us.
Cancelling the annual AAPA meeting has been a tortuous decision. The advice, support, and expressed opinions of our members throughout this process have guided us well and made clear that the AAPA is composed of extraordinary scholars. We wish you, your families, friends, loved ones, and colleagues good health throughout these challenging times. We hope to see you all in Baltimore in 2021.
The AAPA Executive Committee
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