May 16th, 2020
Dear Members, Colleagues and Friends,
Over the past several weeks, we have had the opportunity to speak with many of you regarding the impact and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen school cancelled for the remainder of the year, yet operations changed gears to provide food and curriculum to our students. Just about every district in the State has provided these services over the last several weeks. Now the conversation is beginning of what next year looks like. “Will there be a next year?” “Will school begin as scheduled prior to this?” “What do social distancing practices look like on and off the school bus?” The new uncertainty has begun.
The TAA Board met this past week to discuss some very important topics as it relates to the upcoming summer conference and what actions we can take to continue to support our members. There were very difficult conversations around what actions would we taken to have a conference. Could we meet and still practice social distancing? What safety and cleaning protocols would be put in place? Would the Governor’s stay-at-home order be lifted in time? We want you to know first and foremost that your safety is our number one priority, just as we say that about the students that we transport. Many districts had already reached out to let us know that their district had placed travel restrictions. After monitoring CDC continued guidance as well as guidance from Governor Ducey, we have a unanimous approved vote, to cancel the 2020 summer conference this year, which was set to be hosted in Flagstaff at Little America on June 22nd to 25th, 2020. We wanted to do what is best for members in the best manner financially and ethically as well as provide some “certainty”.
With that- we want you to know we still understand and appreciate the need for a conference and continued dialogue around operations as it pertains to the school year starting back up. We will be having a study session on Friday, May 29th, via Zoom to discuss the very strong possibility of a virtual conference in lieu of this unfortunate cancellation. This meeting will also discuss several other points including temporary suspension of certain by-laws and board member elections. This will be open for members to listen in. We will have a regular board meeting on June 8th to provide a clear plan, hear from members on these topics and vote to move forward. Even though we are all feeling the sadness of not being able to see each other this summer, we are eager to explore the options and embrace the technology that we all have been using during this time.
So, what happens next?
First – Cancel your hotel reservations as soon as possible so that you are not charged for those rooms and so that the hotel may release to them to others as the state begins to open back up.
Second – We will cancel your conference, pre-conference classes and vendor registrations. All cancellations will be refunded in full. Please understand that this will take a few days for us to accomplish this, but please know all will be refunded.
Third – stay tuned to our website, www.taa-online.org, as well as our Facebook page for updated info as it comes together. If a vote is approved to host a virtual conference, registration links, agendas and other information you will need, will be provided through those outlets as well as the email address that we have on file for you.
Fourth – TAA is committed to using the extra time to continue to develop the experience and content that is provided to our membership. We will be meeting throughout the summer, as a board, to discuss hosting continued Zoom meetings for our members to have open dialogue as we continue to plan for the upcoming school year. Also, we will be building our structure for more web sessions, virtual region meetings and the way that we connect with our members. We have already set up a YouTube page which will be linked to the webpage, where you can find the most recently recorded meeting. You can click on this direct link to watch now.
We recognize the power behind this technology and understand that many of our members are not always able to break away from the daily operations to attend an in-person meeting, not to mention the travel that some of our rural teams have to face.
We are confident, that we as student transportation professionals will learn so much from this event and come out stronger, together. Thank you all for your patience, understanding and continued support during these difficult times. We will keep you posted as we know more, moving forward.
For now, take care and stay safe!
Mike Ajeman, President
Shannon Weber, President Elect
Jason Nelson, Past President
Click on map for detailed information.