The KansasFest committee takes the safety and well-being of KansasFest attendees seriously. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, KansasFest was held only virtually in 2020 and 2021. KansasFest returned to in-person meetings in 2022, and that meeting had no known COVID cases resulting from it. In 2023, the outcome was very different. Due to the substantial outbreak we experienced at the 2023 meeting, the committee has reviewed and revised our policies to those given below.

For the health of our attendees, we intend to be strict about this policy, and urge understanding and cooperation. To that end, attendees should arrive having already considered what they will do if they unexpectedly test positive for COVID and are unable to attend or must leave the venue early. Partial/full refunds will generally be available under such circumstances, but remaining on-site after a positive test will not be an option.

The dormitory where the event will be held has air scrubbers integrated into the AC system that meet the recent statewide requirements for clean air delivery rates, and the presentation room has two additional air scrubbers. This should reduce the risk of airborne transmission of any undetected disease. All tests referred to below are self-administered COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, the results of which are reported to the committee. We are trusting the attendees to report their test result truthfully to the committee when asked to.

  • All attendees must take a test upon arrival, with a negative result as the entry requirement.
  • Where multiple attendees have traveled to the venue together, test results are considered collectively, both at the door and during the event. A positive test from any member of such a traveling group is treated as a positive result from all in the traveling group.
  • Any attendee who cannot show proof of an up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination (per CDC guidelines here) must test daily and report the results to the organizing committee each day.
  • If an attendee starts to develop symptoms consistent with COVID, they (along with any in their traveling group) must immediately begin wearing a mask, take a test, and notify a member of the organizing committee of the result.
  • Any attendee who tests positive during the event (or is part of a traveling group with an attendee who tests positive) must depart the venue at that point. If this happens, we will also begin requiring masks in common spaces, eliminate shared meals in common spaces, and require that individuals remain well separated when eating meals. Before considering an attendee to have tested positive, a second test will be done, to minimize the false positive risk.
  • Masks will not otherwise be required, but will be available, and social distancing where practical is encouraged. The campus itself does not have a masking requirement at present.

To encourage a safe event, we will have a generous supply of testing kits, masks, and hand sanitizer available.

We advise attendees to strongly consider purchasing trip insurance, and to have thought through a “Plan B” in the event they must leave early. Where possible, remaining relatively isolated for a few days before traveling, and testing at home before leaving, will help reduce the chances of arriving at the venue and being surprised by an unexpected positive test result. The rapid test administered at the door is designed to avoid allowing any detectable COVID into the venue, but what it is most likely to detect is an infection contracted just prior to traveling. The delay between infection and a test registering positive is also the reason why traveling groups must be considered collectively for the duration of the event. Having an up-to-date vaccination reduces the risk of contracting COVID during travel, in addition to mitigating the severity of the resulting illness, but the COVID outbreak we experienced at the 2023 meeting included significant transmission between vaccinated attendees. We are therefore considering all at the event to be “close contacts” with the others, and so will move to more restricted protocols in the event anyone tests positive and must leave. COVID-19 rapid antigen tests are far more likely to show a false negative than they are to show a false positive, meaning that even if they can miss cases, ones they do indicate are nearly certain. Still, false positives are not impossible. To help mitigate the risk of a false positive causing an attendee to leave early, we will require testing a second time if a positive result is indicated on a test. This will at least account for the effect of a faulty individual testing unit.

We hope that with these precautions in place, our aim of a COVID-free KansasFest can be achieved.