If this were a normal year, nearly 4000 of us from across our membership would have gathered last week in St. Paul for the 2021 Institute and Expo. I am not sure how far back our tradition of gathering in mid-winter extends, but I know from my personal experience that it is at least forty years! Last year in the wake of the first outbreaks of COVID-19, we made a decision to move this year’s Institute to May — gambling on our still-cloudy crystal ball that we would be far enough along in our battle against the virus to meet in person.
We have seen such wonderful and welcome progress in recent weeks, and I know your hearts are lifted by the sharp drop in cases in our settings and promised protection that vaccines have brought to our residents and staff. Kudos to each and every one of you for your part in this sea-change from last November.
Unfortunately, that progress — while so significant — is not yet enough to allow us to be together as we would wish we could in May, and so we have made the decision to make the 2021 Institute and Expo entirely virtual.
If you attended the just-completed round of District Meetings, you know that we sought your help in making this decision. While many of you said you could and would attend even a scaled-down, in-person gathering, many, many more of you said you would attend if the meeting were virtual instead of in-person.
So we will make history together once again! We will hold our first-ever virtual Institute on May 18 - May 21
and it will feature the same exceptional quality keynote speakers as in the past and over 100 break-out sessions. For those of you who need CEUs, it will be packed with them and the Minnesota Board of Executives for Long Term Services and Support has extended the annual deadline for clock hours by 30 days so that you can include them in your required hours for this year.
It seems so fitting that the theme of this year’s Institute is FORWARD. It captures the new sense of hope and optimism of this moment and honors the collective achievement, commitment and resiliency that now allows us to look ahead — and shape a brighter future together.
We can't wait to see you virtually at this year's Institute!