After a very unusual year, in which we transformed Sirens into an online gathering, we are again planning for an in-person event this fall. We are readying the programming schedule, collecting newly released books, searching for amazing auction items, and discussing how we can make Sirens—after a year away—feel as warm and welcoming as ever. We confess: This all feels a bit strange.
And we suspect that coming—or coming back—to Sirens might feel a bit strange to you, too. So we thought we’d offer a series of posts about what Sirens is (or isn’t), some travel tips and tricks, and how you might choose to engage with the conference and community. If you’re considering attending, we very much hope you do. And if you’re returning, we can’t wait to see you again.
You can read the first three posts in our Siren’s Voyage series, about whether Sirens might be the right conference for you, making travel arrangements, and what to pack, here, here, and here. This week, let’s talk feeling safer at Sirens during a global pandemic.
Sirens: Conference Changes
Last month, after much consideration of the current landscape and how to best protect the health of the Sirens community—and by extension, friends, family, hotel staff, and others—we announced that Sirens would take place in person in 2021. We have implemented safety requirements and procedures, and are considering additional measures, but we know that, as the Delta variant continues to spread in a number of areas, no additional safety protocols would be sufficient to permit everyone to feel safe attending an in-person event. Nonetheless, we plan to offer Sirens in person, for the first time since 2019, for whose who are able to attend—and interested in doing so.
Sirens will look different, though, as we work through how best to keep everyone as safe as possible. Most notably, we have canceled this year’s Sirens Studio in order to reduce everyone’s time traveling and everyone’s time around each other. Studio faculty who wish to attend the conference will present as part of the conference schedule, at no additional cost to attendees. We are refunding Studio ticket payments.
The Sirens schedule itself will look somewhat different as well. We are still working through changes as we confirm programming with presenters and incorporate the applicable Studio presentations, but we will separate the keynote meals from the presentations, to keep our Guests of Honor safer, and similarly, breakfast will take place before the auction. We thank you in advance for your patience, as it’s taking us some time to work through these changes.
Sirens: Vaccine and Negative COVID-19 Test Requirements
In order to attend Sirens this year, you must prioritize keeping the Sirens community safe.
You must be fully vaccinated prior to attending Sirens. This means that you must have received your second or single-dose shot by October 7, 2021.
- We will require that you provide proof of vaccination when you check in for the conference. Please do not send us photos of your vaccination card, as we do not want to have copies of your personal medical data. A photo, paper copy, or app-based verification will also be accepted at check-in.
- All human vaccines for COVID-19 that are fully approved or approved for emergency use by authorities in your country will be accepted.
- We are not requiring a vaccination booster shot, as they are not yet widely available. Please follow the advice of your physician and other health officials regarding any boosters.
You must also show a negative viral test for COVID-19, with the test taken after 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time on Monday, October 18 (72 hours prior to the start of Sirens).
- We will have rapid antigen tests available for free for all attendees to take prior to entry into Sirens.
- If the rapid test is positive or inconclusive, you will not be able to attend Sirens until you have received a negative viral test, which is available locally at a number of testing sites.
- You may wish to take a test prior to beginning your travel to Sirens. In the event that you are positive, that means that you may rest and recover in the comfort of your own home rather than at the Hilton Inverness.
- The testing kit that we will provide all attendees contains a second rapid antigen test, which can be used 36 hours after the first.
You will be required to wear a mask over your nose and mouth in all conference spaces, except when eating, drinking, or making brief adjustments (such as fixing the fit or blowing your nose).
- We strongly recommend KN95 or similar masks (like KF94 or N95) or two layers of medical masks. You are welcome to layer these options with cloth masks.
- Single-layer gaiters, bandannas, face shields, and masks with exhalation valves or vents are not acceptable.
- We’ll provide all attendees with a KN95 mask, as well as one medical mask with a clear panel for optional use such as while presenting.
Sirens: Other Safety Measures
We continue to work through additional safety measures, including actions that attendees can take to make Sirens safer for everyone. We are revising our room layouts to encourage social distancing and presenter safety, to reduce repetitive-touch areas, and to encourage everyone to keep their hands sanitized and their masks on. We will have additional rules regarding eating and drinking in the conference space and we will all wash our hands frequently.
If you are attending Sirens, we hope that you’ll work through additional safety measures as well. If you are using public transportation or flying, we strongly encourage you to put on a KN95 or similar mask before you encounter other travelers and to remove that mask as little as possible while in transit. If you wish to eat, we encourage you to do so away from others, rather than on a crowded airplane, train, or bus. If you wish to drink, we encourage you to consider a straw, which you can use without removing your mask. Practice social distancing and leave extra space between you and people who are not masked or who are wearing their masks incorrectly. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently—and use those wipes that airlines give you to wipe down the surfaces around your seat (including those overhead buttons for the light and the fan). Keeping yourself safe on the way to Sirens is the first step to keeping everyone safe while at Sirens!
We hope that you understand the hard choices the Sirens team had to make in deciding to present this year’s conference—and the compromises that we will all have to make to keep the Sirens community safe. Again, we appreciate your patience and your understanding.