CTE Directors & Advisors,
As of today, March 12, 2020 we have made the difficult decision to cancel this year’s SkillsUSA Conference scheduled for March 22nd to 28th. Unfortunately, the logistics of a compressed time-line and uncertainty about further developments pertaining to the spread of the COVID-19 make it impossible to reschedule the conference.
My morning has been consumed with gathering information from a wide array of participating school districts, UAA, other stakeholders and our national headquarters. Several districts, including Anchorage and Fairbanks have issued notices that they are not allowing students to travel out of district and that their facilities are not available for hosting any events.
I am fully aware of the potential negative impact that canceling the state conference has on our students; many have successfully competed at the state and national level in the past and were anticipating advancing their leadership, technical skills and accomplishments at this year’s conference. Given that the overwhelming majority of our events are intentionally designed to involve the competitors in on-site, hands-on performance events, I feel that it is inherently impossible to hold any of the events telephonically or at remote locations and retain any parity in the competitions. At this point, I am not certain if the National Conference scheduled for June will take place. Once that decision has been made, I will work on a contingency plan to send at least a voting delegate to the conference.
Financially, this is creating a significant issue for the State Organization as a whole; we rely on the revenue from the conference to fund activities throughout the year. I have been in contact with the Garden Inn concerning reservations; at this point it appears that they will be honoring all requests for full refunds. I strongly urge anyone who has made reservations to contact Ms. Smith at the Garden Inn as quickly as possible to request a refund; please let me know if you have any issues. Additionally, if you have already paid your State Conference fee, please send me a request for refund. I will fully honor all requests, just need to establish the paper trail for accounting purposes.
Like many related organizations, we understand the need to safeguard the health and safety of all of our Skills members and like them, are operating with an abundance of caution as we work through this. During the past 35 years that I have been involved in our Alaska SkillsUSA organization we have experienced numerous disruptions to our conference including severe weather, volcanic eruptions and even the disastrous 2018 highway fiasco that effectively isolated Anchorage; we survived those challenges and although this is the first time we have been forced to cancel the conference, we will survive this too. I was heartened to receive a message from Jen Worth, president of the SkillsUSA Board of Directors this morning. She speaks very eloquently about the strength that is at the core of the SkillsUSA organization and sends a strong message of continuity in the face of adversity. I am attaching her message below for you to read.
Please contact me with any concerns or questions; I am relying on all of you to assist in sharing this message with your students, parents, local judges, or others who will be impacted by this cancellation.
Stay safe. (and wash your hands!)
If you would like to read the letter from Jen Worth, the president of the SkillsUSA Board of Directors, you can download it here
Official 2020 NLSC Announcement from SkillsUSA Executive Director Chelle Travis
*The following has been copied from the SkillsUSA NLSC website, which can be found here.*
The current health crisis we’re facing has affected all walks of life, and, consequently, all aspects of SkillsUSA. That includes our National Leadership and Skills Conference.
Over the last several weeks, SkillsUSA has conducted an exhaustive study of all potential options for holding our national event. As the crisis has changed, so have those options, and we have now made our final decision.
Instead of holding our national conference as planned this June, SkillsUSA will be holding virtual state officer training, delegate sessions and national officer elections, along with other recognition programs as yet undetermined. All other elements of our conference — including our SkillsUSA Championships — will be canceled.
There are many reasons that have led to this conclusion, but I’d like to share the two most impactful.
Number one, there is nothing more important to SkillsUSA than the health and wellbeing of our members. With so much yet unknown about this virus and how long it might affect us, we could not in good conscience move forward with an in-person event this June. Your health and safety will always be our main priority.
Number two, our national event is dependent on state participation. As of this video, 27 of our states have canceled their conferences and would not be participating at our national event even if it was held as planned. Others are basing their decisions on whether or not their school systems reconvene this year, which becomes less likely each day.
To be clear, SkillsUSA completely supports the difficult decisions our dedicated state directors have made over the last several weeks, and we commend them for their tireless work. Nevertheless, without robust state participation, holding our full national conference in any format is simply not a viable option.
I know the disappointment this decision will cause so many of you. It’s a disappointment shared by all of us. But we must rise above that disappointment and remember who we are. We are SkillsUSA.
I assure each one of you: SkillsUSA won’t just survive this crisis. We’ll come through it stronger than ever. This setback is temporary, but the legacy, spirit and strength of this organization endures in each one of you.
Look for more specific details on our plans in the days ahead. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy and stay skilled.