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COVID-19 Course Practices

David Morgan

CONDITIONAL COURSE OPERATIONS

This is an evolving situation and our practices may change as we gain new information or as recommendations change. VOBS will decide when and under what conditions any courses will operate using medical advice and our best judgment. If course dates need to change, or VOBS decides to cancel a course, your Course Advisor will reach out to you with more information. Please check this page for updates. Updated 2/1/2022

For answers to common questions please review our COVID-19 FAQ Page. 

Updated 2/1/22

Over the last two years, we have worked tirelessly to responsibly run our programming in the age of COVID-19. As the scientific knowledge of COVID-19 has increased, we have continually evolved our COVID-19 Risk Mitigation Practices. After conducting a ton of research and review, we have made the decision to require students to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination to participate in VOBS courses.*

We are committed to responsibly running programming in the age of COVID-19, and we are asking all students and families to help us make this possible by following the requirements listed below. These requirements are designed with several goals in mind:

  • To keep students and staff healthy
  • To prevent the unintentional spread of communicable disease
  • To keep our local community healthy
  • To allow students to experience an Outward Bound course with the same outcomes as they would have had before the pandemic.

It is imperative that you follow these requirements and agree to do your part to help every student and family have a safe and positive experience. We expect students to follow the recommended guidelines for fully vaccinated people from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) prior to the course. In order for you or your child to participate in this Outward Bound course, please review the below requirements.

*VOBS is not currently accepting requests for vaccine exemption. If you have questions or concerns about this please reach out to our student services office*

PRIOR TO COURSE START

All students are required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and should continue to follow the recommended guidelines for fully vaccinated people from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

 

FOR ALL PARTICIPANTS:

  • Participants are required to have up-to-date vaccinations against COVID-19. For courses that begin on or after April 1, 2022 VOBS will require proof of "up to date" vaccination against COVID-19 for all participants, as defined by the CDC. 
  • Participants are strongly encouraged to observe physical distancing and good hygiene for 5 days prior to the course start. When in public during this timeframe, it is recommended that participants wear an N95, KN95, or KF94 mask to decrease their chances of contracting COVID
  • If your course takes place during flu season, VOBS strongly recommends you get a flu shot!
  • Participants must notify their course advisor of any underlying health conditions that could put them at increased risk of contracting a communicable disease and check in with their physician about any additional risks.
  • Participants must talk with their course advisor about travel plans, and submit a backup plan if choosing to travel via commercial transportation. 
  • Participants are encouraged to obtain an FDA-authorized NAAT test for COVID-19 within 3 days prior to course start and submit a negative test result to VOBS prior to arriving at course start.

TESTING RECOMMENDATIONS & REQUIREMENTS

Testing for COVID-19 is part of Outward Bound's comprehensive plan for minimizing the risk of spreading the virus. It is possible that individuals could have knowingly or unknowingly contracted COVID-19 in the months leading up to their course and then test positive for COVID-19 right before course start, despite no longer being contagious.

We strongly encourage the timeline listed below. Please reach out to your course advisor with any questions.

Testing Tips & Access:

  • Call your local clinic or healthcare provider
  • Many pharmacies have testing sites nationwide
  • Check-in with your local State Department of Health regarding free testing sites in your area or at-home testing kits that can be sent to your door and mailed back for results (these testing kits are often free)

 

TRAVEL PROTOCOLS

  •  Participants may travel to/from the course by personal vehicle or commercial transportation. 
  • If you intend to depart by commercial transportation, we may request that you submit a backup departure plan should you need to depart under quarantine or isolation protocols. The plan CANNOT include commercial travel.
  • Due to the nature of COVID-19, we highly recommend against purchasing any non-refundable travel. Make sure you verify cancellation or change fees with the airline before you purchase your ticket. In the event that your course changes due to COVID-19, the Voyageur Outward Bound School is not responsible for any non-refundable travel please plan accordingly. 

When booking your flight, and while traveling, we expect you to do the following:

  • Minimize layovers and time of layovers
  • Reference CDC guidelines for mask-wearing: CDC Mask Policy for Traveling
  • All participants should wear a mask when in public places. VOBS recommends using N95, KN95 or KF94 mask to further mitigate risk
  • Avoid eating and drinking in restaurants
  • Continue to maintain a physical distance of six feet from others
  • Wash and sanitize your hands often
  • Bring wipes to wipe down surfaces around your seat on the plane.

Please reference the CDC recommendations for Protecting Yourself When Using Transportation.

COURSE START

  • Participants must arrive at the course start neither experiencing nor presenting any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Participants will be screened upon arrival. If any signs or symptoms of illness exist, participants will not be allowed to start the course.
  • Participants will be given a COVID-19 rapid Antigen test on the day of their course start, administered by VOBS.

DURING COURSE

  • Participants will be given a second COVID-19 rapid Antigen test between days 4-8 of the course. If all tests return negative, the group may have the opportunity to transition into "family unit" status.
  • Wearing a Mask and practicing social distancing will be required during different times on the course. 
  • Participants must agree to wear a cloth face cover (such as a mask) when instructed to do so. Masks must cover both the nose and mouth and fasten either at the back of the head or behind the ears. 
  • Participants must be willing to follow instructions for reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19, such as frequent hand washing, sanitizing, and regular symptom checks.
  • A guardian or family member must agree to pick up and drive their child home if they start showing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or test positive for COVID-19 during the course.

OUR STAFF

  • All VOBS staff are required to have their COVID-19 vaccination. Some exemptions may exist, in accordance with our Staff Vaccination Policy. Possible exemptions will be assessed against course type, staff role and other relevant safety factors. All staff will be tested regularly for COVID-19.
  • Staff who work directly with students will follow a testing strategy similar to our participant strategies.

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