Covid-19 Protocols

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

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

This protocol is subject to change as further 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 flu-like symptoms including any of the following:

  • a fever over 100.4
  • a persistent dry cough
  • new loss of taste or smell
  • severe sore throat that lasts for more than 48hrs

The state asks that anyone doing pickup and dropoff for consecutive-day programs be the same person all week (as feasible – for some families this is impossible). Additionally please avoid carpooling with anyone outside your family and/or small group “pod”.

Maximum Group Size

  • State Guidelines: maximum of 50 (children & adults combined)
  • VWS: maximum of 8

We are starting with a very conservative max group size of 9 for youth programs, and 10 for adults programs. A typically youth program group would include 6 participants, 1 experienced lead instructor, and 1 intern instructor. There will be no more than 30 participants on-site at any location, and groups will stay separate from each other unless the program director authorizes an exception.

Physical Distancing

  • State Guidelines: Encouraged, “although it is recognized that this is frequently not possible in settings with young children.” 
  • VWS: Encouraged for youth, required for adults. Participants will be instructed to maintain physical distancing at all times. If a participant is repeatedly not able to maintain this distance, they will not be allowed to continue attend the program.  Staff will provide guidance to participants, and all activities will be designed to promote their success with maintaining distance.

Facial Coverings

  • State Guidelines: Recommended for staff, children, and adults
  • VWS
    1. Highly recommended for staff (with certain exceptions such as eating and when at a safe distance from others). 
    2. Required for staff under certain conditions (such as administering first aid, and when they must enter someone else’s physical distance.)
    3. Recommended for children. Wearing a face covering for long periods of time is not comfortable, but it is an important practice that all of us need to keep learning. 
    4. Highly Recommended for adult participants or those dropping off children. 

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

Hand Hygiene

  • State Guidelines: Hand washing or hand sanitizing is recommended for participants and staff multiple times per day.
  • VWS: Hand sanitizing will be required multiple times per day, especially before and after using the bathroom or eating. Most programs do not have hot running water on site, so we will rely heavily on sanitizing.

Each participant is required to bring a small (ideally pocket-size) bottle of hand sanitizer to the program. VWS will have a limited number of hand sanitizers that we can sell (at cost) to you if you are not able to get it or your child forgets it.


  • State Guidelines: Recommend that bathroom surfaces be cleaned and disinfected at the beginning, middle, and end of each day. 
  • VWS: Our programs use outhouses, port-a-potties, or the outdoors (and we teach proper ways to go to the bathroom outdoors). We will require that these facilities be cleaned and disinfected at least at the beginning and end of each day. 

Health Screening

  • State Guidelines: Staff are required to conduct a Daily Health Check for each participant and staff members upon arrival each day. 
  • VWS: We will use the Daily Health Check protocol described in the state regulations. VWS’s designated health officer will:
    1. Ask you: 
      • Have you (or your child) been in close contact with a person who has COVID-19?
      • Do you (or your child) 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? 
    2. Conduct a forehead temperature screening of you (or your child), using a non-contact thermometer. Anyone with a temperature greater than 100.4 F must be sent home. This step may be skipped if you take your (or your child’s) temperature before you leave home and report the number to the health officer at drop-off.
    3. Make a visual inspection of you/your child for signs of infection. This could include flushed cheeks, fatigue, extreme fussiness, etc.

If You Live in Outside of Vermont

  • State Guidelines: Participants who live outside VT and within commuting distance of Brattleboro CAN attend programs if they qualify as “essential” travel (for example, if VWS is caring for your child. See here for more details). 
  • VWS: We are available to speak with you if you have questions about quarantining before the program. Please also see the VT Department of Health Travel page for more guidance.

When can we return to VWS programs if I or my child have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 but suspect a different diagnosis?

  • State guidance: if you have consulted your health provider and they do not suspect COVID-19, then you or your child may rejoin in-person activities when you/they have had no fever for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g.,Advil, Tylenol).
  • VWS: Do not come to any in-person VWS programs if you or your child are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (such as a fever over 100.4, severe sore throat, sudden loss of taste/smell, etc). To return to our programs:
    1. Consult your healthcare provider to see if they advise a COVID-19 test.
    2. If they do not recommend a test you or your child may return to in-person VWS programs when you/they have had no fever for a minimum of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications (e.g.,Advil, Tylenol).

We do not require a note stating that a test was unnecessary. If your doctor does recommend that you or your child get a COVID-19 test, or you are waiting on results from a test, contact us before returning to programs.