2021 SHPE National Convention

  • Orange County Convention Center
  • Orlando, Florida

A Safe & Magical Time

Thank you for your decision to attend the 2021 National Convention! We're excited to have you join us in Orlando, Florida this November for what will be the largest gathering of Hispanics in STEM in the U.S.

While we are excited to return to an in-person event, we recognize that safety protocols are still needed during this global pandemic. Safety is top of mind for all of us at SHPE, the Orange County Convention Center, and all of our contracted vendors. Throughout this year SHPE has followed the public health situation caused by the COVID-19 virus, and subsequent variations, with careful concern and worked very closely with all resources available to determine what would be needed. All of our decisions and actions have focused on fulfilling our mission while ensuring the health and safety of our members, staff, event attendees, partners, and families.

Statement About the In-Person Convention >

Town Hall About Convention Safety >

Here are a few of the currently planned precautions to ensure everyone’s safety when they come onsite for convention:

  • Masks will be required at all National Convention events.
  • If you are actively eating in a public area you may remove your mask but all other times we require that you wear your mask.
  • Masks with vents or valves, neck gaiters, or bandanas are not acceptable. We recommend a KN95 mask or 3 ply mask as the best choice for a mask. CDC Mask Information
  • There will be select entrances to the convention center, as well as to the Career Fair & Graduate School Expo exhibit halls to monitor traffic flow.
  • We will also ask that attendees line up during the required times for events and not to line up except during those available times.
  • Waivers are included as part of registration.
  • We will have a virtual daily health check reminder of all COVID symptoms to be aware of for all attendees.
  • Should an attendee require assistance with locating a COVID testing site, we will direct them to the appropriate resources as needed.
  • The number of attendees allowed in sessions and Career Fair has been limited to allow for appropriate physical distancing, this includes for seating as well as standing lines.
  • We have wider Career Fair aisles to allow for more space between attendees.
  • Workshop/Session rooms will be set up in appropriate safe social distances to allow space between attendees.
  • Disinfecting of workshop rooms in-between sessions and overnight electrostatic cleaning of rooms.

The convention center and SHPE will be following all CDC guidelines and updating these safety protocols which are subject to change. If you have any questions or concerns, please email events@shpe.org or keep checking back on this page.

Public Safety Plan & Guidelines Information

SHPE will continue to communicate safety guidelines and protocols to all event participants, staff, and volunteers prior to their arrival at National Convention.

Information and instructions (sourced from the CDC, WHO, and Orange County) will be communicated to all participants, in advance of their arrival and onsite, and may include, but not be limited to:

  • Information concerning COVID-19 symptoms - CDC: Know the Symptoms
  • Instructions to stay home if sick - CDC: Quarantine and Isolation
  • Instructions to stay home if part of a vulnerable population group, individuals who are immunocompromised, individuals of all ages with serious underlying medical conditions.
  • Instructions concerning social distancing, while attending event.
  • Information on how to protect yourself and others - CDC: How to Protect
  • Instructions addressing frequent and regular hand washing and sanitizing.
  • Instructions regarding required and proper use of PPE - CDC: Facemask Do’s and Don’ts

    All individuals entering the Orange County Convention Center West Concourse SHPE areas during National Convention, which includes move-in, move-out and show days, will be required to wear a mask or face covering, except when actively eating or drinking. Speakers will remove their mask during speaking time at the front of their sessions.

    All individuals who need to follow these guidelines include:

    • SHPE Staff
    • Volunteers/Committee Members
    • Attendees
    • Exhibitors
    • All NC21 vendors (decorator, registration, catering, general services, etc)
    • Orange County Convention Center personnel
    • Any other personnel working in the buildings during NC21 in our space of the West Concourse

    Onsite enforcement may include revocation of attendee badge, so no further entrance is permitted if compliance is not adhered to.


    Standard health questions include, but are not limited to:

    Have you had contact with anyone that you know has been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last fourteen days?

    Have you had a positive-COVID test for active virus in the past 10 days?

    Do you have any of these symptoms that you cannot attribute to another condition?

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • Recent onset of loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

    If the person answers no to all of the above questions, the individual should proceed to the Convention area or selected session.

    If the person answers yes to any of the above questions, the individual should stay in their hotel room and if they need support to reach out to events@shpe.org for assistance in locating a designated testing location in the Orlando area or for further support.


    Registration staff and registration area will provide all attendees, staff, and volunteers an individual-sized hand sanitizer container for their personal use during the convention within their bag upon check in.

    There will be additional permanent and temporary hand sanitizer kiosks placed throughout the buildings. Additional hand washing stations will also be available for attendees to use.

    For more information on additional hand sanitizer kiosk locations please contact events@shpe.org. Hand sanitizers help prevent all individuals from becoming sick and are available to all during Move-in/Move-out and Show Days.


    Currently the Orange County Fire Marshall and the Orange County Convention Center is at 100% capacities for events being held in the OCCC.

    To provide for a safer environment, SHPE is encouraging everyone to plan and apply social distancing within the entire OCCC to match your comfort level. We will be providing buttons in your convention bag that you can wear to designate your comfort level:

    • Red – Keeping my distance
    • Yellow – Bumping elbows is preferred
    • Green – Handshakes and hugs are ok

    SHPE has increased the aisles to 20ft to allow for physical distancing space in the Career Fair Exhibit Halls E.


    SHPE will utilize specific entrance and exit locations to OCCC West Concourse, Halls D, E, F areas.

    Security was formulated to monitor entrances and exits, to allow for a more secured layout to improve crowd control and social distancing. Please note that SHPE will be sharing the West Concourse with other groups for a portion of our convention dates and it is a Public building.

    SHPE will mitigate possible congregation points to ensure the maintenance of physical distancing and ask for your assistance in compliance with all security or volunteer members monitoring those areas.

    Exhibit Areas

    Exhibit booths are ONLY located inside the exhibit hall areas D for interviews and E for Career Fair. All booth display build- out structures have been approved by the Orange County Fire Marshall and Show Management.

    Floor Plans

    The exhibit hall’s aisles are 20’ wide in Halls E (Career Fair), with one-way traffic flow allowing more room for social distancing. Halls D (Interviews) aisles are 12’ wide, with one way traffic flow.

    Lobby Areas

    All lobby areas will be utilized, enforcing two-way traffic flow allowing additional space for physical distancing.

    OCCC Meeting Room Space

    Social distancing guidelines outlined by the OCCC will be adhered to in all scheduled seminars and areas.

    Room Setup will be adhered to match with the OCCC maximum capacity and set in appropriately spaced physical distance for attendees.

    Attendees to each session will be limited to the Show management physical distanced capacity based on the total space of the room. Chairs may be marked to avoid sitting next to attendees in certain sessions if not already spaced but this does allow for those who are in a group that are known to each other to sit closer if they choose to.

    SHPE Social Areas / Events

    SHPE Central will be in the registration area and physical distance guidelines adhered to along with masks

    Lifetime Member Lounge will adhere to the OCCC capacity and social distance guidelines and is only available to current Lifetime Members with their convention badge and Lifetime Member pin displayed.

    Mothers Room will adhere to the OCCC capacity and social distance guidelines as well as have a refrigerator for attendee use

    Quiet/Prayer Room will adhere to the OCCC capacity and social distance guidelines

    Mercado will adhere to social distance guidelines and items will be on display with store support to show items as needed. We will only accept card transactions this year.

    Additional Seating /Eating Areas

    The extra square footage within the building will allow for additional socially distanced seating and eating areas. They will be near concession stands, in the Career Fair Hall, or throughout the West Concourse.

    Meeting Rooms are classroom, meal function, theater and reception style set ups with OCCC capacity and social distance guidelines.

    Concession stands for meal purchases will be set up with OCCC capacity and social distance guidelines.

    Floor plans will be available on the website and are subject to change as well as in the mobile app in early November.


    SHPE will utilize abundant venue signage and physical distancing graphics with clear protocols and instructions through the entire facility in addition to the ones provided by the Orange County Convention Center.

    Locations (included but not limited to):

    • Registration queuing area
    • Lobby areas
    • Outside all conference rooms
    • Concession food and beverages areas
    • Socially distanced seating and eating areas
    • Restrooms
    • Personal hygiene guidelines – outside/inside restrooms and concession stand areas
    • One-way aisles inside the exhibit halls
    • Two-way lobby areas
    • All show entrances and exits to OCCC
    • Inside the exhibit hall areas
    • Loading docks
    • First, Second, Third, and Fourth level meeting rooms

    Example of signage:

    • Please practice social distancing
    • Masks or face coverings required
    • Wash your hands frequently
    • Please use hand sanitizer throughout the day
    • Safety first – use hand sanitizer stations

    PA Announcements and Mobile App Texts

    PA announcements, push notifications through the conference app and SMS texts will be in frequent use to remind participants to socially distance and to observe other health and safety requirements. They will also be used to provide any necessary real-time updates.


    SHPE and the OCCC will work together to ensure the facility is cleaned and sanitized to meet the Orange County Public Health Department guidelines.

    SHPE and the OCCC are following health guidelines and frequency based on the mandates set forth by the CDC, Governor of the State of Florida, Mayor of Orlando, and the Orange County Public Health Department, as well as the best practices established by numerous industry groups, including the International Association of Venue Managers and the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. This includes by September 30, 2021 all Orange County employees will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

    The Facility will operate with best practices through aggressive disinfecting, cleaning, and sanitizing of spaces and surfaces if necessary.

    SHPE show management will provide disinfecting to sanitize between sessions and the OCCC will provide overnight sanitation.

    43 permanent hand sanitizer stations are now available throughout building. 13 portable sanitizing stations are available and 10 portable hand washing stations in high traffic areas will be available.

    All cleaning products used are in accordance with EPA guidelines.

    ADA plates for doors and entryways.

    Restrooms will be maintained and sanitized on a continual basis and on-demand as needed.

    Public areas will be maintained and sanitized on a continual basis on-demand as needed.

    Touchless POS systems throughout the facility.

    24/7 fresh air circulation into building.

    Ventilation system – hospital grade air filtration.

    The Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) has received its Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accreditation on outbreak prevention, response and recovery. Recognized as the gold standard of safe venues, the OCCC is one of the largest venues in the nation to receive the GBAC STAR™ accreditation.


    All Centerplate staff will adhere to the public safety guidelines put in place regarding health screenings, required masks and gloves, and increased hand washing practices, as well as implementing safety on all concession stands and food areas.

    Modified food and beverage services:

    • Adaptable menus and served in closed containers
    • Replacing bulk condiments with single serve packets
    • Eliminating any/all refills (food or beverage)
    • Lids on all beverages before service
    • Increased availability of grab-and-go items
    • Modified catering/buffet services
    • Placement of hand sanitizer in all service areas and in front of served buffet areas

    Security will utilize two-way radios for safeguarding the compliance to all Orange County Public Health Department and Show Management guidelines and protocols.

    Areas of enforcement and compliance:

    • Entrances/exits
    • Session rooms
    • Career Fair
    • Interview Hall
    • Study Hall
    • Roaming security guards
    • Security supervisors

    SHPE will work closely with the Orange County Public Health Department. If any modifications are needed, SHPE will make the necessary adjustments to create the safest environment possible for the convention.


This year's Career Fair & Graduate School Expo will be held on Thursday and Friday from 10:00am to 4:00pm each day in Hall E of the Orange County Convention Center West Concourse. As part of our safety protocols and line management updates for 2021, Career Fair access has been redesigned.

Each day half of all onsite attending student participants will receive early access to the Career Fair from 10am-2pm before the Career Fair opens for general access from 2-4pm. This provides dedicated time with less attendees to assist you with getting your chance to talk to our companies, government agencies, and universities who will be onsite to meet you.

During your onsite check-in process, the registration staff will provide student participants with a color-coded badge holder and lanyard. The color of the badge lanyard will indicate whether you will receive early access to the Career Fair on Thursday or Friday. You must check in onsite to receive your color designation. This will be on a first come first serve basis.

During the time when a student doesn't have early access to the Career Fair, each student may attend conference sessions. The Career Fair will be open to ALL attendees from 2-4pm on Thursday and Friday.

We do ask that attendees not line up until 9:30am each morning for entry to the career fair. Signage will also be made available onsite with times and designated entry locations. The main entry point for the Career Fair is in the West Concourse, E/F Lobby.

Professionals and graduate students may access the Career Fair at any time when it's open.