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Brooke Beery is Associate Editor of Optometry Times®.
Health and safety are prioritized as COVID-19 takes in-person meetings online.
The coronavirus pandemic has shuttered another major optometric event this year as shelter-in-place orders prevent large-person gatherings from taking place. The American Optometric Association (AOA) cancelled its annual in-person optometry meeting that was scheduled for June 24-28 in National Harbor, MD, and Washington, D.C. in favor of virtual experiences. This is the first time in the meeting’s history that is has been cancelled.
“This is the first time that Optometry’s Meeting has been canceled, and while this is the right decision to make for everyone’s health, it is heartbreaking,” AOA President, Barbara L. Horn, OD, says. “We want to thank everyone for their continued patience, support, and partnership during these difficult, unprecedented times as we move through this united together.”
Dr. Horn says the association will proceed in offering continuing education for students, doctors, and paraoptometrics using a virtual education and networking platform. The details of that experience are still being mapped out.
Key elements of the meeting will be reconfigured. Select changes to these key elements include:
• Education. Optometry’s Meeting 2020 was prepared to deliver over 140 continuing education and 60 paraoptometric courses. The AOA will proceed in offering education for doctors and paraoptometrics using a virtual platform.
• House of Delegates. The AOA House of Delegates will be called for a one-time, special meeting for the purposes of AOA Board of Trustees elections and installation to reflect the usual and customary practices for an AOA election. This special meeting of the House will be held in June 2020-most typical agenda items included within the House will be postponed to a later meeting with dates to be determined.
• AOA+. The AOA will continue the AOA+ efforts later in 2020 and beyond.
• AOA on Capitol Hill. Crisis advocacy mobilization will continue even though the in-persion visit was cancelled. The AOA just issued an immediate call to action in support of AOA-backed, bipartisan legislation (S. 3559, Sens. Barrasso-Bennet/H.R. 6365, Reps. Schrier-Roe) to provide new federal grant and loan support for doctors of optometry and optometry practices. Visit AOA’s Legislative Action Center or text AOA to 855.465.5124 to help build AOA’s advocacy momentum for the next crisis relief bill.
All Optometry’s Meeting registration fees will be cancelled on the attendee’s behalf and refunded without penalty to the original payment method. Attendees can expect to see refunds returned within the next 10 days. This will include additional costs paid for workshops or the Optometry Cares 5K Run/Walk.