North side of Illini Union facing Green Street. (UI Public Affairs: Stauffer)
North side of Illini Union facing Green Street.

UI Public Affairs: Stauffer

IJEA cancels 2021 Fall Conference

September 2, 2021

The Illinois Journalism Education Association’s 2021 Fall Conference, originally scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been canceled due to complications related to COVID.

Shortly after the IJEA Executive Board approved the decision on Sept. 1, IJEA President John Gonczy issued the following statement:

Dear IJEA Members,

This evening, Sept. 1, 2021, a meeting of the executive board was held at which we came to the difficult decision to cancel the IJEA Fall Conference scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It is with a heavy heart that I share this news, yet at the same time I do so with a clear conscience.

Our decision is based on three major factors.

The first is that there is a growing nationwide shortage of bus drivers, and our state is particularly affected by this. As a result, many advisers can only come if they drive their own schools’ minibuses, and this means that they have had to reduce the number of kids that they can bring. As of the end of last week, we had roughly 120 students registered. As of today, that number has fallen to 75-80 students. We have not had any new registrations this week.

The second factor is that we are hearing from advisers across the state that Illinois high schools are far from being on the same page in terms of allowing field trips. For example, my school has reinstated field trips and even overnight travel. Some schools are not allowing any field trips. And still other schools are somewhere in between those two extremes. Therefore, we are not optimistic that the number of student registrations will rise in the next week to the level that would make holding the conference worthwhile.

Finally, but of greatest importance, is our desire to always do what is in the best interests of the students. We would not want to place our students, particularly those who have not been or are not eligible to be vaccinated, in any danger of contracting the delta or any other variant of COVID-19.

The IJEA board meeting has been rescheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, on Zoom. Rest assured, we will get the minutes out to the membership as soon as we can after that meeting.

I know this is a great disappointment for all of us, but I do hope that you all understand and support our decision.

Thank you. Please stay safe and well and do not hesitate to let me or any other board member(s) know how we can assist you and your students this school year as you endeavor to produce quality media in your respective schools.

With my best regards always,



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