Covid-19 Protocols – Summer 2021

VWS programs are able to meet, and in many cases exceed, the VT Health Dept. and state guidelines designed to prevent transmission of Covid-19.

What follows is an overview of Vermont Wilderness School’s COVID-19 protocols, designed to ensure the health and safety of everyone at our programs. More detailed descriptions of the protocol are available on request. 

We are all in this together, and we must look out for each other. When making your plans for the weeks before, during, and after a VWS program we ask that you hold an awareness of what is needed to help protect our community from COVID-19. For example: refraining from international travel, carefully monitoring your own body for signs of illness, or being aware of your attendance at extended/large gatherings with unmasked/undistanced/unvaccinated individuals.

These protocols apply to VWS in-person programs occurring after June 1st, 2021 but are subject to future changes as additional guidance is provided by state & local authorities. We welcome your questions, comments, and feedback!

Pre-program Prevention

  • State Guidelines: Encouraged. Prevent sick individuals from attending.
  • VWS: Required.

We ask that anyone registered for a VWS program stay home if they have a close recent COVID contact or experience COVID-like symptoms including any of the following:

  • a fever, especially if over 100.4
  • new & persistent dry cough
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • new & severe sore throat

Maximum Group Size

  • State Guidelines for outdoor gatheringsno maximums.
  • VWS: maximum of 15 per pod and up to 30 in a facilitated multi-pod activity.

A typical youth program group would include 8-12 participants, 2 experienced lead instructors, and occasionally 1 intern instructor (note that some groups may be smaller than this). 

Physical Distancing

  • State Guidelinesencouraged for unvaccinated people, but not required for anyone.
  • VWS: 3ft of distancing will be maintained at VWS programs except during activities facilitated by a staff member. Participants & parents should be aware that summer activities facilitated by staff will occasionally include brief light physical contact while wearing masks:
    • This might include activities like: a game of tag, 2-3 campers cooking together around a fire, two-person fire-by-friction lesson, etc. 
    • This will not include extended physical contact activities like: rough-housing, holding hands, piggy-back rides, etc.

Facial Coverings

    • State Guidelines: encouraged for unvaccinated people interacting indoors, but not required for anyone.
    • VWS
      1. Required at times of clustering – such as at drop-off/pick-up. AND when less than 3ft apart – such as a facilitated activity like tag.
      2. Mask wearing may happen at other times when deemed prudent by staff. 

Each participant is required to bring two facial coverings (a cloth mask or medical mask— a bandana will also suffice) to the program each day.

UPDATE NOTE:  You now have the option for your child to NOT wear a facial covering (even within 3 ft of others…if they are also ok with it) IF you provide permission.  To give this permission, you can do either of the following:

  • Respond to the email sent by your child’s Program Director.
  • Tell the Program Director in person the first day of the program.

If you do not provide this permission, your child will be required to wear a mask/facial covering  when within 3 feet of others.

Hand Hygiene

  • State Guidelines: regular hand washing is recommended to prevent many infectious diseases, including COVID. However, there are no COVID-related additional handwashing requirements.
  • VWS: Most programs do not have hot running water on site but hand sanitizing will be encouraged before & after activities like: going to the bathroom, eating your own lunch, when sharing community / common items like a tool, or before activities involving light touch such as tag. 

Each participant is required to bring a small (ideally pocket-size) bottle of hand sanitizer to the program. 

Health Screening

  • State Guidelines: health screening allowed, but not required.
  • VWS: staff & participants must conduct a health screening at home before arrival at summer programs.  Before the 1st day of your summer program, VWS will provide a 1-page health screening checklist to be conducted before arrival & drop-off
    1. Any participants or staff who cannot pass the screening must remain at home and contact their program director to let them know they will not be attending. 
    2. Upon arrival at the program location, a VWS staff member will ask you to confirm that everyone you’re transporting has passed the at-home health screening.
    3. The at-home health screening will likely include these three questions:
      • In the past 10 days, has this participant been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19?
      • Does this participant feel unwell with any symptoms consistent with COVID-19? For example, a cough, high temperature, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell? 
      • Is this participant running a fever over 100.4?

If You Live Outside of Vermont or are travelling outside of Vermont

  • State Guidelines: no travel-related testing or quarantine requirements.
  • VWS: no travel-related requirements. 

When can we return to VWS programs if the participant has had symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but suspect a different diagnosis?  Or has had COVID?

  • State guidance: if you have consulted your health provider and they do not suspect COVID-19, then the participant may rejoin in-person activities when they have no COVID symptoms.
  • VWS: If the participant has been sick, please wait to return to programs until they have been fever free without medications and symptoms have been lessening for 24-hours.