RKO Army (Shadowcasting Community Arts) is hosting its 2022 convention in Providence during the COVID-19 pandemic that has been ongoing for more than two years, and we are making every effort to keep everyone safe. However, we cannot guarantee zero risk and you are responsible for assessing your own comfort level and assuming whatever risk is consistent. We are explaining this policy both to give you information to make your own decisions but also to tell you clearly what our expectations are.
You are attending this con as a member of a community, and we expect and need you to uphold standards of honor, integrity, and due care in all of your interactions with fellow members of our community.
We base our guidelines on recommendations currently published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH). These agencies change their guidance in response to changing conditions, so they may impose stricter regulations as the con approaches and we will follow that. We are providing neither medical nor legal advice to you.
Symptoms and Testing for All Attendees
You must not attend the convention or any events if you develop symptoms of COVID-19 or test positive. It is expected that you test negative before attending, and this is especially important if you are traveling any significant distance to the con; you do not want to be stranded indefinitely and unable to return. If you develop symptoms or test positive while attending, you will be expected to isolate yourself from all others and, if possible, depart early.
At registration when you pick up your badge, all attendees will be asked to show a photo of a negative test from within the last 24 hours, and confirm that you have read and agreed to this policy in full. Showing these photos is a reminder “Did you test?” and not an expression of lack of trust, and we do not collect any data on this from individuals. We will try to have rapid antigen test (RAT) kits available if you need them, but if you make it as far as the registration table and turn out to be positive, it is too late and you will already have exposed others.
If you are a close contact of a person known to be infected but you are asymptomatic, you are expected to test at least daily until your departure; as long as you remain asymptomatic and test negative, you can continue to participate in con events provided you wear a mask.
According to the CDC people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. Anyone can have mild to severe symptoms. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Rapid antigen test (RAT) kits for COVID-19 are widely available from any pharmacy. These are designed to be used at home and return results in under 30 minutes. Federal rules require Medicaid and private health insurers to cover the cost of up to eight per month per insured person; in some states (including RI) you can obtain covered tests with no up-front payment. For the US, information on obtaining no-cost tests is available from an official government web site and requested test kits will be sent by postal mail within 2-3 weeks.
We strongly encourage vaccination as it reduces your chances of becoming infected and greatly reduces your chances of becoming seriously ill if infected, but people who are fully vaccinated can become infected, so testing is critically important and strongly recommended regardless of vaccination status.
Testing is valuable but is still not perfect: if you become infected, it can take a day or two for the virus to replicate sufficiently to register as positive on a test: during this interval, the likelihood of your transmitting the virus to others is low but greater than zero.
Testing Before Specific Events
Because we are working in close quarters and behind the stage, we have additional requirements on testing for participants. In addition to testing before coming to the con as described above, participants (as distinct from audience) are expected to test negative the same day before these specific events:
- RKO Horror
- The Room
- Hedwig and the Angry Inch
- Rocky Fit Dance Club Party (day 1)
- Shock Treatment
- Drag Race
- Rocky Fit Dance Club Party (day 2)
- Dr. Horrible
- Reefer Madness
- Rocky Horror
For this purpose, “participant” is defined to include cast, technicians (including stage setup, props, and audio-visual), costumers, make-up artists, photographers, and everyone with backstage access. If you are in doubt whether you are a participant, test yourself before the show on the same day.
Masking is mandated in three specific locations: the hotel ballroom, the vendor area, and traveling in buses provided by the con. Masking in the ballroom is mandated for all non-participants in shows. The only exception is those participants in stage productions and only while they are part of that stage production, and they must test negative the day of the events in which they participate, as described above. It is the responsibility of all community members to politely remind others of this mandate if needed, but it is emphasized that politeness is essential.
Even where not mandated, we highly encourage you to wear masks in all public areas, especially indoors, to protect yourself and as an expression of care for your fellow community members. If you become infected, you may be able to transmit the virus to others for a day or two before you develop symptoms, and you may never develop symptoms at all: this presents a risk that you may not know you are infected while unknowingly infecting others.
As described above, if you are a close contact of someone who tested positive but are yourself testing negative, you are required to wear a mask whenever possible, as a precaution in case your status changes to positive before you are able to detect this with a test.
N95/KN95 masks provide excellent protection for both the wearer and those around them. Surgical masks are good protection. Cloth masks offer some protection for the people around the wearer. A published meta-analysis found that health care workers wearing N95/KN95 masks are six times less likely to be infected with COVID-19 in the course of their jobs than if they were wearing surgical masks, which in turn provide more protection than no masks at all.
We understand that it is not possible to wear a mask while eating or drinking, but in most other situations it is possible. Remember that many people around you may have conditions or disabilities that make them more vulnerable to serious consequences if they become infected, and these may be hidden or invisible to you: by wearing a mask, you help protect them.
You must respect the decisions of all who choose to wear masks outside of the designated areas.
Hotel, Travel, and Medical
While we may facilitate bookings with third parties for hotels and travel, the contractual relationship governing such incidental activities is entirely and exclusively between you and the third party. If you develop symptoms or test positive, you will be required to comply with all rules and regulations of hotels, airlines, trains, and so forth. Continuing, terminating, or modifying such contractual relationships with third parties is your responsibility.
If you require medical attention up to and including hospitalization, we will do our best to help you as a fellow community member but this will be your responsibility. Nothing we do, including offering RAT kits if we are able to do so, constitutes providing medical care or services to you.
Last Policy Update: 19:15, July 10, 2022
In addition to COVID-19 we are currently advising all attendees to take additional precautions to prevent the spread of Monkeypox. With only 19 confirmed cases in RI as of 7/30/22 the risk is currently low, however we still encourage all attendees to follow the below recommendations.
According to the RI Department of Health symptoms of monkeypox can include:
- Muscle aches and backache
- Swollen lymph nodes
- A rash that can look like pimples or blisters that appears on the face, inside the mouth, and on other parts of the body, like the hands, feet, chest, genitals, or anus
If you are currently experiencing any of these symptoms while attending the convention we ask that you please notify a staff member immediately. If you have not yet arrived at the convention and are experiencing any of these symptoms we ask that you please stay home.
Transmission occurs through close physical contact with body fluids, monkeypox sores, items that have been contaminated with fluids or sores (clothing, bedding, etc.), or through respiratory droplets following prolonged face-to-face contact. This includes anyone with prolonged skin-to-skin contact and bodily fluids, such as through crowded settings or sexual contact. Anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has monkeypox is at risk.
Unlike COVID-19, which spreads easily through the air, the risk of monkeypox to the general public is currently low unless they engage in higher-risk behaviors. Having sex with multiple sex partners can increase a person’s risk of becoming infected when monkeypox is spreading in the community.
How to protect yourself:
- Consider covering exposed skin in dense, indoor crowds
- Don’t share bedding or clothing with others when possible
- Before having close, physical contact with others, talk to your partners about their health and any recent rashes or sores
- Talk to your healthcare provider if you were potentially exposed. You may be a candidate for a post-exposure vaccination to prevent the development of the disease
How to protect others:
If you have symptoms particularly a rash consistent with monkeypox (even if you do not think you were in contact with anyone with monkeypox), or if you have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with monkeypox:
- Stay home if you are feeling sick
- Contact a health care provider as soon as possible for an evaluation
- Avoid skin-to-skin, or close contact with others, including sexual contact, until a medical evaluation has been completed
- Inform sex partners about any symptoms you are experiencing
- Cover the rash with clean, dry, loose-fitting clothing
- Wear a well-fitted mask
- If you are contacted by public health officials, answer their confidential questions to help protect others who may have been exposed
While many of the identified cases are within networks of self-identified gay and bisexual men, trans people, and men who have sex with men, people of any sexual orientation or gender identity can become infected and spread monkeypox.
For more information please visit the CDC website.
CONSENT AND PERSONAL SAFETY
The core RKO Con security team consists of TJ Monjay, Cassia Autumn, and Roy Rossi. They ask that all attendees read this post in the RKO Con Social Facebook group, which goes over some potential dangerous situations that could arise at a convention, and how we can all work together to keep each other safe.
Cassia has provided the following message to all con attendees on behalf of the security team:
You can message any of the three of us on Facebook if you have anything that you want to talk about. If you do not have Facebook, you can email Cassia at [email protected] to get a message to the security team. TJ and Cassia will be less busy at the convention itself than Roy. We want to know about any and all security concerns that you have.-Cassia
Please feel free to talk to us about anything or anyone that has you afraid and/or anxious. Even if you don’t want to “make a big thing out of it,” we still would love to know. We don’t need to take any action or let anyone know that you contacted us, we can just be quietly aware of the situation. Not everyone in RKO Army is on the security team, but everyone in RKO Army should be able to help you find me, TJ, or Roy.
You don’t need to give details, just telling any RKO person “I need to talk to someone on security about a concern” will be enough to get you pointed in the right direction. Folks on security will be wearing green and yellow reflective vests that say “RKO ARMY” on the back throughout the convention. In addition to RKO Con security, there are three people who are offering themselves as resources and advocates for anyone who feels unsafe and/or just needs to talk. They are not part of the RKO Con security team and cannot make security decisions on behalf of the convention, but we are in communication and they are supporting us. These lovely humans are Amanda K. Vetelino (who is also part of RKO Army), Dani Mauroni, and Becca Friedenberg Asheuer (who will not be at the con but is available to talk from afar) You can message any of them on Facebook.
As we have done in the past, we are offering no contact orders for this convention. If there is someone coming to this convention who you do not feel safe around and you’re worried that they may contact you, we can reach out and explicitly tell them to leave you alone. This includes coming up to you in person, texting or messaging you, having other people relay messages to you, any sort of contact with you that happens during the convention. This includes contact that happens anywhere and everywhere during the convention, not just at our venues. If they violate the no contact order, we will meet with them. Depending on what happened, the extent/frequency of the violation(s), and your wishes, this will result in anything from them getting a warning and having increased security eyes on them, to them being asked to leave the convention. If you’d like to request a no contact order, please let us know. “But what if I don’t know if this person who makes me feel unsafe is going?” You can ask us, and we can tell you if they’ve bought a ticket. People can buy tickets at the door, but most people buy them in advance, especially if they’re traveling here from out of state.
If you have any concerns about someone at this convention, whether they’re concerns for yourself, a friend, or the safety of the general public, please let us know. It is not too late to realize that you don’t feel safe with a roommate and ask for a switch. It is not too late to tell someone that you don’t feel safe with a scene partner and need to have scenes changed.
We won’t be upset with you for saying something, we just want you to feel safe.