Our Message Regarding COVID-19
COVID-19 has impacted all of our lives in so many ways; while we are still left with many unanswered questions, here are some things we do know for certain: we will not take our participants or our leaders on a program if we are not in a situation to both adequately care for them and provide them a fantastic experience.
We have worked with the CDC, pediatricians, epidemiologists, and the American Camp Association (ACA) to develop protocols for handling COVID-19 on our programs. Through those efforts we were able to devise a robust "playbook" relating to all protocols and procedures to mitigate exposure risk to COVID-19 as much as possible. To see some of our protocols from summer 2020, see below.
We utilized this playbook in the summer of 2020 wherein we successfully led participants on our Colorado Wolf Refuge program. We are proud to be one of the only organizations to now have experience running a program amidst a pandemic. While this past summer laid the groundwork for our full slate of programs this coming year, we are constantly learning more about COVID-19 and are updating our protocols for summer 2021 to fit the most current research. We will continue to educate ourselves, and our Summer 2021 COVID-19 Playbook will be finalized as the summer nears.
Amid this strained period of isolation, we owe it to our youth to continue to provide programming. We will build upon our experience this past summer and utilize our protocols and procedures to offer programming throughout the coming months and into the summer of 2021.
If you or someone you know would like to discuss our program experiences and what steps we are taking to run our programs, we invite you to reach out to us. Please call us at the office (773.342.5200) or email us (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We look forward to being on The Road with you soon,
The Road Less Traveled Team
COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT PROCESSES DO YOU HAVE IN PLACE TO MINIMIZE COVID-19 ON YOUR TRIPS?
We will take extensive measures to create a self-contained, outdoor-based community of otherwise healthy young people. Further, we will enact protocols and procedures informed by guidance from the CDC, American Camp Association, and a team of physicians.
We will use a combination of quarantining prior to arrival, receiving negative test results, distancing from other groups, utilizing outdoor spaces, masking when distancing and outdoor spacing isn't possible, and sanitizing regularly to create our isolated bubble. We have had to completely rethink our itineraries to create COVID-19-safe programming while maintaining the integrity of the RLT experience. We are in constant communiation with top experts in the field to stay educated so we're able to make the best decisions for RLT, our participants, and our staff.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A CHILD SHOWS COVID-19 SYMPTOMS ON A TRIP?
While we feel confident in our ability to mitigate potential COVID exposure on our trips, we are also prepared for a scenario where a participant contracts COVID-19. In this were to occur, we would isolate the participant and seek medical guidance. In addition to carefully researching local testing sites and medical service providers in all areas where we travel, we have partnered with a pediatrician's office to provide telehealth consultation.
WILL I GET A REFUND IF THE TRIP IS CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19?
We have worked carefully to plan trips that we feel have a high likliehood of running during the Summer of 2021. In addition to a great variety of international trips, we have a set of domestic trips that can be easily adapted to be run in a "refuge style" that allows each RLT group to function as a "bubble" and therefore drastically reduce any interaction with the public. In the chance that we do need to cancel some trips due to COVID, we will work with families to try to find a good fit for the participant to travel on an alternate trip. If that is not a possible option, we can either roll funds to a Summer 2022 trip, or provide a full refund.
HOW DO I KNOW IT'S SAFE FOR MY CHILD TO ATTEND?
We require all RLT participants to have received a physical within the past 18 months. In addition, we require a physician's signiture indicating the particpant is healthy enough to travel and not considered high-risk as it relates to COVID-19. Additionally, RLT has one of the most extensive staff trainings in the industry, and additional training sessions on our COVID-19 protocols have been worked into the training schedule for 2021.
We are taking many precautions as we plan for next year, but there is no way to ensure our participants or staff are 100% safe from infection. As such, if your child shows any signs and symptoms of COVID-19, they will be isolated and monitored closely and will be tested upon isolation.
OVERVIEW OF 2020 COLORADO WOLF REFUGE COVID-19 PROTOCOLS
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES AND TESTING
Prior to the trip, there were several requirements that we asked all participants and staff to meet in order to mitigate COVID-19 exposure:
- Quarantine within their family household unit for 14 days prior to departure.
- Monitor for symptoms and record temperatures for 14 days prior to departure.
- Obtain a negative COVID-19 test result within 3 days of departure.
- Obtain physician approval to travel prior to departure. Given the nature of COVID-19, we were not able to accept any participants that the CDC considered to be of high risk.
Due to the nature of our trips and he geographic diversity of our staff and participants that we take pride in, it posed an additional logisitical challenge in getting everyone to the program. Families were enouraged to choose the method of travel that felt safest to them. Precautions were taken to limit the risk of exposure while traveling to the program, including:
- Participants and staff were required to wear masks the entire time they spent in an airport or on an airplane.
- Parents were encoraged to travel with their participant.
- Participants and staff were encouraged to pack hand sanitizer as well as food for their trip, to avoid purchasing food along the way.
- Gloves were worn to gather bags and all baggage was sanitized prior to transporting it.
- Participants and staff changed into a clean set of clothes as they were leaving the airport.
MITIGATING THE COVID-19 RISK
We also took many steps for the duration of the trip to create a "bubble" and to minimize potential spread of COVID-19. Some of those policies included:
- Masking when distancing or outdoor activities were not possible with individuals outside of the RLT small groups, or when traveling in a vehicle.
- Daily temperature and symptom checks for the duration of the trip.
- Using additional staff for grocery shopping and running other errands to vastly reduce the amount of contact the group had with outside individuals.
- Careful and consistent cleaning and sanitizing practices.
- Carefully planned itineraries to reduce the amount of interaction and exposure to members of the public.
If there was a suspected COVID-19 infection, we took the following precautions to mitigate the spread within the bubble:
- Any participant or staff that showed the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 were immediately isolated and monitored. They were transported by our additional staff to the nearest testing facility.
- The care we provided to symptomatic participants is similar to the supportive care you would give at home including liquids, fever reduction, and rest. If multiple participants were confirmed positive, they would have been able to be isolated together. Further, the symptomatic participant was monitored closely by one of our staff leaders (all of whom have a Wilderness First Responder certification, at a minimum).
- If a child tested positive for COVID-19, a parent or guardian was required to travel to the program site at their own expense and relocate their child, quarantining with them elsewhere before returning home. We were unable to accept a participant on our program if the parent or guardian were unavailable for such an outcome.
- If a COVID-19 test came back negative, the participant or staff was able to rejoin the group once they were assessed as being healthy enough to do so.