March 12, 12:00pm -- Given the rapidly evolving COVID-19 global pandemic, we at Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie have decided to host a virtual National Finals next month, instead of the three-day event in Montréal that we had planned.
Along with announcing our 24 Semifinalists and National Finals judges, we will release further details about our virtual Nationals on Thursday, March 19. The 2020 Virtual National Finals will be livestreamed on our website on Friday, April 17, starting at 1pm Eastern. We hope you will tune in for the show!
How did our team arrive at this decision? With the health of our students, teachers, poets, staff, and general audience at the forefront of our concerns, we used the Government of Canada’s “Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak” to guide our assessment. We evaluated all aspects of our live, three-day National Finals event in Montréal scheduled for April 16-19, and we identified the following risks:
- We do not have the capacity to screen our 24 Semifinalists, their teacher-chaperones, our vendors, our volunteers, and our audience of up 1,300 people and guarantee that none of them have travelled to an area affected by the virus.
- Some of our activities, including recitation at a shared microphone, cheering, sharing food or beverages, could contribute to spread.
- All of our events are being held indoors.
- Our students, teachers, volunteers, and audience members will be consistently within 2 metres of one another.
- For three nights, students would be sharing hotel rooms and teachers would be sharing hotel rooms. Longer events present more opportunities for transmission, and events at which attendees share overnight accommodation could also increase transmission risk.
We then considered the government’s risk-mitigation suggestions and quickly realized we are perfectly equipped to switch to a virtual event. Poetry In Voice/Les voix de la poésie has held online contests for the past 8 years, and so our team, our poet judges, and our teachers and students across Canada are familiar with a video-based contest format.
We finalized our discussions in consultation with several teachers across Canada, many of whom told us they were relieved by our decision, suspecting their school boards would soon be cancelling school trips of any kind. We also had our first cancellation from a school scheduled to compete in a Team Regional, due to their board’s brand new directive to cancel all excursions, even local ones. Under these circumstances, our team is certain that a virtual contest is the only way to ensure our 24 Semifinalists from across Canada will be able to recite their poems at our Nationals this year.
We will be releasing more details about our virtual Nationals on Thursday, March19, but if you have any questions or concerns, by all means contact our Director, David Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you already booked tickets for the show and haven’t heard from us yet, please contact David as well.