2020 CLA Convention: Response to COVID-19 Print

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March 6, 2020

Dear College Language Association Members,

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and with concern for your health and that of the international community, CLA will continue to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak closely through the CDC and the Shelby County Health Department.

At this time, the 2020 CLA Convention in Memphis, Tennessee (April 1st–4th) will proceed as planned. We will notify you of any changes that may occur.

In addition, our convention hotel (Hilton Memphis) is taking precautions directly for COVID-19. Hilton Memphis will:

  • Maintain all cleaning/disinfecting/sanitizing measures and standards that are presently in place
  • Clean all public areas at minimum twice daily with disinfectant cleaners for hard surfaces and disinfectant sprays for fabric
  • In addition, the hotel will be placing large sanitizing containers in strategic public places, including all Banquet registration tables, in addition to having Clorox wipes available.
  • In the guest rooms, extra attention will be paid to all of the places a guest would touch (handles, remote controls, phone, door knobs, curtain draw wands, etc.)
  • All employees workstations, (including business center) are wiped down (phones, keyboards etc.) at all shift changes
  • Public bathrooms well stocked with soap and hand towels, concentration placed on sanitizing stall handles
  • Employees who are ill or experiencing flu-like symptoms shall not come to work

Also, the Memphis Tourism President & CEO, Kevin Kane, has sent an email for your consideration:

“We wanted to take a moment to let you know that Memphis Tourism has the wellbeing of all visitors, hospitality industry employees and residents of Memphis and the Mid-South as our highest priority. As the travel industry reacts to current and potential impacts of COVID-19 (coronavirus), Memphis Tourism is closely monitoring the situation while following the guidance of the Shelby County Health Department and the CDC, communicating with clients, customers and our international offices, and messaging in tandem with government and industry partners.

Travelers are encouraged to always exercise healthy habits when traveling and to follow the guidance issued by public health officials. At this time, the risk to Americans remains low and there are no restrictions on travel anywhere within the United States. CDC Director Robert Redfield stated on Monday of this week that Americans should “go about and live their normal lives” during this time. For the latest regarding travel outside the United States, please visit the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC’s website.

In line with the current advice of public health officials, Memphis Tourism is serving in a travel advisory role in providing health care tips for travelers along with industry updates and resources to our members and partners. As it does every year, our Renasant Convention Center team has also been working to keep visitors to the venue healthy and to minimize the risk of exposure to various strains of the flu. At the core of these measures is a proactive approach to proper sanitation and good hygiene. The following are simple but effective measures that are useful during any flu season.

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60- 95% alcohol when water and soap are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home if sick.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect touchpoints and surfaces that customers come in contact with such as tables, counters, doorknobs, keypads, phones, etc.
  • Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with an elbow or a tissue, then immediately dispose of the tissue and wash hands for at least 20 seconds.

At this time there has been no significant impact to travel and tourism in Memphis. In the absence of any domestic travel advisories from healthcare officials, we support the continuation of travel and planned meetings and events.”

We ask that anyone feeling sick should not try to attend. We also ask all attendees at the conference to respect any requests to a refuse a handshake or other physical contact.


Donna Akiba Sullivan Harpher, Ph.D.
CLA President
Fuller E. Callaway Professor of English, Spelman College