SAN ANTONIO — Virtual communication is used for conferences, school and even field trips. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been fewer conferences this calendar year in San Antonio, impacting several events.
“It is quite a shift for us to have gone online,” U.S. Spokesman for Jehovah’s Witness Robert Hendriks said.
Hendriks said it has been a year of rearranging for their events and conferences.
“We actually cancelled all of our conventions in April and that was the big issue because how do you now take a convention that was going to be in some 6,000 locations around the world in hundreds of different languages and now move it to an online platform,” Hendriks said.
One of those was set to be in San Antonio. So, instead of having thousands of people gather together in-person they went online for six weekends instead beginning the weekend of July 11-12. The last one was taking place this weekend.
Hendriks said the shift went well but they look forward to gathering again in-person when the COVID-19 pandemic is over with.
“We’re hoping that that’s soon. We would have regretted bringing in and transmitting the disease or actually bringing it out and spreading it,” Hendriks said.
According to Visit San Antonio, in this fiscal year alone there have been 57 cancelled citywide groups they’re involved with, which equals out to a $225,400,000 loss.
There has also been 152 cancelled in-house meetings Visit SA was involved with, which equals out to a $57,800,000 loss.
There are still 46 conventions and in-house meetings scheduled for the rest of the year, which will equal out to $20,800,000. In-house meetings are smaller groups held at hotels that are apart from the Convention Center.
“Our students and our kids are like, ‘Oh man, I want my friend, I want this. They’re not that excited about school. How do we make that where they’re excited again,” a Founding 1st and 2nd grade teacher at The Gathering Place Chelsea Polanco.
Polanco and Teaching Assistant Isabel Laborde figured out a way to get their students the SeaWorld experience they wanted, just virtually.
“They were all super excited with questions,” Polanco said.
Pulanko said she is in the process of planning more virtual field trips. While she didn’t have to pay extra for her students since they were on Zoom, if anyone asked her to she said she would in order to support local places.
“It wouldn’t matter the price like Isabel said. To see the excitement and to see them ready to get on Zoom, virtual Zoom, that excited me and Isabel as teachers,” Polanco said.
Typically there are 40,000,000 visitors that come through San Antonio each year. However with several of these conferences cancelled, we will not know how impacted those numbers are by COVID-19 until sometime next year.