Due to the ongoing pandemic and social distancing requirements, the board of directors of the Texas Association of Public Employee Retirement Systems has cancelled the August dates for its Annual Conference and trustee training.
“We are devastated to share this news with you,” said Art Alfaro, executive director of TEXPERS. “Although TEXPERS staff have been working hard to plan this year’s conference, which originally was moved from May to August due to the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the board decided it is in the best interest of its members to cancel this year’s conference. The world is a different place since the arrival of the pandemic, and infection rates have recently begun to spike in various parts of Texas and in San Antonio, our conference host city. We are committed to do our part to help protect the health of staff and attendees, and cancelation of our event was determined to be the best plan.”
TEXPERS’ 31st Annual Conference was to be held Aug. 16-18 at the Grand Hyatt in San Antonio. Basic and Trustee Training was to be held as a pre-event on Aug. 15. The association’s board of directors met in a teleconference on June 22 to discuss the feasibility of hosting the conference considering the pandemic.
Currently, Texas remains operating under a Disaster Declaration due to the spread of the respiratory disease. On June 22, Gov. Greg Abbott said the novel coronavirus is rising at an “unacceptable rate” in Texas.
Although the state is under a phased economic reopening plan, many areas are requiring the use of face coverings and social distancing measures remain in place. The conference’s host city, San Antonio, has become a national hotspot for the virus, according to a June 20 CNBC report.
Also, due to social distancing requirements, the intended conference venue is restricting the use of breakout sessions during conferences to limit the movement of attendees. The measure would reduce the number of educational sessions TEXPERS attendees could attend. In addition, several members and presenters have conveyed to TEXPERS that they are still under travel bans instituted by their workplaces.
TEXPERS is exploring options to provide virtual sessions throughout the remainder of the year. The sessions would allow trustees to continue to earn advanced trustee training credits.
“We understand the gravity of the situation for our members who utilize TEXPERS’ Annual Conference to enhance their professional development,” Alfaro said. “We will continue to work hard to bring you educational events online that will aid you in managing a public pension system. Though our Annual Conference will no longer take place, we will continue to ensure you are educated on the topics and issues important to the public pension industry.”
Those who have registered for the conference, golf and/or trustee training will have the opportunity to have their registrations rolled over to TEXPERS’ Annual Conference in 2021. If you would prefer a refund, send an email to email@example.com for assistance.
Those who have booked a room at the conference hotel, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, should contact the hotel to cancel their stay. You should have received an email confirmation of your reservation from the hotel with the contact information.
“We want to give a special shoutout to our conference sponsors, many of whom have agreed to shift their participation over to online sessions,” Alfaro said. “These firms are showing true support for the educational needs of our system members. They truly understand the mission of TEXPERS, which is, ‘To strengthen Texas by expanding awareness of public pension issues, providing high-quality training to retirement systems’ decision makers, and working to assure the promised benefits of public employees.”