Winter Roots Covid Policy


1/31/23 Note: Our Covid policy has been updated, such that the vaccination requirement is now for a base shot/series plus booster, rather than requiring a dose within 2022/23. Please see below the policy for our letter of explanation.

The following is our Covid policy for the 2023 Winter Roots Festival. If you are considering attending, please click each item for additional related information. We understand that no single policy will meet everyone’s needs or preferences, so this year, while Covid still presents complications, we ask you to read our official policy thoroughly so you can make an informed decision about your choice to attend Winter Roots.

Click on each policy point to expand a drop-down explanation with additional details.


The following is the letter published on 1/31/23 explaining the change to our vaccination policy:

Dear Flurry Community,

We are modifying our Covid policy for Winter Roots, such that the vaccination requirement will now be for an initial dose/series, plus one booster, rather than requiring a dose specifically within 2022 or 2023. We also wish to reemphasize the importance of other preventative measures such as masking and testing. To facilitate these precautions, we will be making our supply of high-filtration masks available for free, and if we have extra rapid tests after Saturday morning we will offer them at cost.

Vaccinations

When we initially crafted our Covid policy, the bivalent booster was newly released and there were high scientific hopes that it would do for Omicron what the original vaccine did for Delta. We were optimistic that requiring recent boosting would greatly reduce risk of transmission at the festival, and that, in conjunction with testing and encouraged masking, it would allow us to hold a very low-risk event. Two-thirds of our survey respondents were willing to attend under the policy we proposed.

As we now know, the role of the bivalent booster, and vaccination in general, has taken a back seat in the arsenal of transmission prevention. The policy we drafted based on available research and then confirmed with survey data, once on solid scientific ground, now looks a bit shakier. With nearly the entire country having gained some immunity to the virus through vaccination and/or prior exposure, and as only 20% of the US population has obtained the bivalent booster, the criteria we set for admittance look excessively restrictive in retrospect. We did not anticipate the number of people who last boosted in late 2021, and to whom we have needed to deny entry because they missed the 2022 cutoff by a very small degree.

Therefore, based on current circumstances and community feedback, we have decided to adjust our policy and will now accept documentation of vaccination with one booster for admittance to Winter Roots. We are deeply appreciative of all those who already obtained a recent booster for Flurry purposes, and support continued updating of boosters where recommended.

Masking

We understand that our community is divided on mask requirements. We have chosen to keep masks optional, while strongly encouraging all participants for whom it is comfortable and viable to mask. English, contra, and square dances, etc, will incorporate a mask-only line/set option, and KN95 masks will be freely available during the festival. We believe that masking and testing are powerful tools for preventing viral spread, while also understanding and respecting that people choose not to mask for many reasons including health restrictions, comfort, breathability etc. For those who do have higher personal concern around contracting Covid, research has shown that a well-fitting mask worn properly and continuously is extremely protective, even in situations in which others are unmasked.

Testing

Rapid testing does not catch all cases of Covid, but can be good at detecting them at their most transmissible, and also makes for a good check on our impulse to minimize symptoms when they appear. We will continue to require that testing be done prior to arrival or on-site, and encourage everyone to bring additional tests to complete on subsequent days. If we have sufficient tests remaining in our own supply, we will provide them at low cost for those who wish to test again.

When creating policy for an event of this scale, finding the perfect balance between responsible organizing, risk assessment around poorly-defined variables, and respect for individual decision-making presents an impossible task, and the results will inevitably be unacceptable to some. As we near Flurrytime, however, we hope that this change in orientation will better align us with current research and make sense to our participants, and increase the accessibility of the festival while preserving the elements most powerful at reducing risk. We wish we could create a Winter Roots that is fully accessible to all of our community, but our first year back from the height of the pandemic and our community’s many differing perspectives on safety and autonomy have proven challenging to navigate. We thank you for your grace with us as we navigate this year and work to bring our beloved Flurry back to life.

You may direct any questions to covid2023@flurryfestival.org, and we hope you will continue to support us in our attempt to make a winter Flurry in 2023 possible.

Thank you,

The Flurry Team


Ticket Refund Policy

There will be no refunds for reasons which are not related to illness resembling, infection by, or recent close exposure to Covid-19. All refund requests will be processed within two weeks following the festival, and should be made in writing to advancetickets@flurryfestival.org. We cannot guarantee that a refund can be issued immediately if you are denied entry due to a positive test or symptoms, but you will remain eligible.

A refund will be available, if accompanied by request made in writing and any appropriate documentation, if:

  • You test positive within 10 days of the start of the festival, or at the door
  • You recently had Covid, with symptoms beginning within the past 10 days
  • You do not attend because of Covid- or flu-like symptoms
  • You do not attend because of a known close exposure to a person with Covid

A refund will not be available if:

  • You leave the festival early due to a positive Covid test or symptoms
  • You choose not to attend due to Covid safety concerns
  • You choose not to attend because of additional restrictions we put in place
  • You are denied entry because you cannot document vaccination as required

Recommendations for Attendees:
  • If you are traveling a distance, test before leaving home, in addition to the required day-of-entry test
  • If you have recovered from Covid within a few weeks of the festival (but symptoms began more than 10 days ago), obtain a medical note of clearance from a medical professional to bring with you, in case you have a lingering positive result on your rapid test
  • If you believe you should be exempt from any aspect of this policy for a medical reason, please contact covid2023@flurryfestival.org. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will require supporting documentation from an MD or DO who is licensed and board certified in ENT, internal, family, or pediatric medicine
  • Masks will be available for free with a suggestion donation, but if you have a preferred type bring plenty along

Survey Results

In the interests of transparency, and to help you understand our decision-making process, we are providing the results from our survey, accompanied by some notes.

Interesting tidbits for the curious:

  • 2/3 of those considering attending Winter Roots would attend under the proposed Covid policy, although only 42% were fully satisfied with the policy as drafted.
  • Of people opposed to a vaccination requirement, about 3/4 were also opposed to testing prior to entry.
  • A desire for required masking far outstripped the desire for stricter testing or vaccination requirements.
  • Our early responses contained a larger percentage of those desiring mask requirements, while our later responses contained a larger percentage of those disliking Covid restrictions.
  • About 10% of the comments we received contained misinformation around Covid (as opposed to disagreement with our policy or reasoning). Many of these comments came in around the same time, beginning several days after the survey opened. 56% of the comments containing misinformation were submitted by people who had never attended a Flurry.
  • A number of survey respondents inquired about ventilation. The City Center has upgraded to MERV 13 filters in its HVAC system, while the Hilton was unable to do so. City Center spaces include  Room D, Meeting Room 1 & 2, and Rooms A/B/C.

On to the results…
Forms response chart. Question title: Which description best characterizes you?
. Number of responses: 563 responses.

Of those who had never attended a Flurry:

  • 49% would attend under the proposed policy
  • 9% wouldn’t have attended regardless of Covid
  • 11% wrote comments incorporating Covid misinformation


It looks like we have strong support for Spring Bloom!


Forms response chart. Question title: Would you be willing to attend Winter Roots given the above set of policies?
. Number of responses: 521 responses.

68% of all respondents are able and willing to come, even though some of them are not happy with all of our proposed choices.


Note: In the first few days, responses from those who felt masks should be required outnumbered those from people opposed to a vaccination requirement. In the last few days, several waves of responses in opposition to vaccination arrived in close proximity in time, with a few submissions appearing to be near duplicates. This leads us to suspect the data may be slightly distorted, with opposition to vaccination requirements being lightly over-represented.


Forms response chart. Question title: I would prefer:
. Number of responses: 314 responses.

About 16% of all potential attendees felt that required masking was either essential (wouldn’t attend without) or highly desirable (as indicated in comments).

While a larger number of people willing to attend under this proposed policy preferred masked sets to masked sessions, a larger proportion of those preferring masked sessions were uncomfortable with our proposed policy (presumably for being too lax), and many more of them commented in support of masking. That suggests to us that many of those who feel strongly about masking may be more comfortable with some mask-only sessions.


Observations from survey comments:

  • A number of those willing to come under this policy also indicated in comments that they would have preferred required masking.
  • Some of those willing to come under this policy also commented that they would have preferred testing to be required every day.
  • A few of those willing to come under this policy pointed out that not requiring the bivalent booster seemed at odds with our stated goal of having most people recently vaccinated, although most of those mentioning vaccination were satisfied with our proposed policy. 

An enormous thank you to everyone who responded to the survey and sent in comments, all of which were reviewed! We are especially appreciative of those who expressed their dissenting viewpoints in a polite and thoughtful manner, and encourage you to continue the dialogue with us as we go forward in events to come. Although there was clearly vast disagreement among participants, we believe these results support our decision to go forward with the policy as proposed, as a best-fit model which will of necessity be unacceptable to some.

Click here to return to the Winter Roots Covid Policy at the top of the page