By Laura Foody, NEALS President
I am having a moment of Deja Vu. Last winter, I was hunkered down for the holiday break with my immediate family. We did not travel because we wanted to stay safe and did not want to risk the health of our loved ones. Then vaccines came, and the infection rates went down, and the weather warmed up, and things looked good in June. Ah, those were the good old days….
Now we face the Delta and Omicron variants, and infection rates are rising once again. We will see some extended family this holiday season, but we are trying to keep things low-key so that all can be healthy and safe. Winter is looking unsure once again.
The members of the Board at NEALS are aware that burnout rates of faculty and staff at schools are on the rise. We are working diligently to figure out how to best support our members so that NEALS events can be refreshing, stimulating, and safe. We also want to make sure the physical and mental health of our members and colleagues are bolstered rather than knocked down during these unsure times.
Due to the uncertainty of rising infection rates and viral variants, the NEALS Board has decided that the annual conference will once again be held online. As much as we want to be in person and see our beloved members, we want to make sure that all are healthy and safe. So, we will meet online in April for our conference day. We will be communicating ideas about how to get the most out of our online conference (have a viewing party at school or offsite?) so that we can once again use this event as an opportunity to refresh ourselves and move into a spring that we hope will have decreased infection and hospitalization rates.
Be on the lookout for event announcements for 2022. We will be hosting online talks about accommodations in January and February. And, we are working on bringing an online conference in April that will help us safely connect with one another. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions and/or ideas for conference speakers and topics. And feel free to reach out if you would like to help plan this event. We want to hear from you!
I wish you all a well-deserved school break and a happy and healthy New Year.