As NWOBS resumes programming, we have taken a number of precautions to adapt our courses based on recommendations from local, state and federal agencies. We have used CDC, state Health Authority guidance for summer camps, and Outdoor Recreation and American Camp Association guidance to inform our updated program operations and worked to implement procedures to mitigate risk to the extent possible for NWOBS students and staff. We regularly review these procedures and consider changes to them, as informed by the most recent guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities and relevant associations. For additional information, view our COVID-19 Program Practices.
What is NWOBS doing to reduce the likelihood of someone bringing COVID-19 to course?
Enhanced Screening - During screening, and in communications from Student Services leading up to course, applicants are asked to disclose any travel or contact history that would put them in a higher risk category for contracting or transmitting COVID-19. Travel history includes any travel from/through high- or medium-risk areas as defined by the CDC at the time of the conversation, and contact history includes close contact with anyone with a confirmed or presumed case of COVID-19 or anyone with an acute respiratory disease AND a relevant travel history. Do not come to your NWOBS course if you have any COVID-19 symptoms including: cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat or new loss of taste or smell. If you have been in contact with someone who has confirmed COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19 in the past 14-day, please do not come to course.
COVID-19 Testing - All students and staff must provide a current negative result from a COVID-19 viral test within 72-hours of arrival to course. Students should arrive at their course start with test results submitted to NWOBS.
Travel Restrictions - For the health and safety of students and staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, students may be asked to use private modes of travel (non-commercial transportation) to and from course. When traveling to the course start location: maintain physical distancing in public spaces, wash your hands frequently, wear a face covering in public, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands and avoid dine-in restaurants.
What do families and participants need to consider before course start?
At times students will be in close proximity to other students or instructors. Physical distance will be maintained, as much as possible, until "family unit" status** is achieved, or the course ends. The possibility of illness exists on course. Communicable disease and other infectious disease from insects, animals or people and other debilitating or life-threatening illnesses like COVID-19 may occur.
Our courses take place in remote locations and are often removed from immediate medical care. Transportation to medical care may be delayed. Our instructors are trained to NWOBS standards hold Wilderness First Responder certifications. Staff will use their best judgment to make safety and risk management decisions.
** ”Family unit” status can be achieved through a series of testing (pre-course, Day 1, and around Day 6). If all members of course have all negative test results (or are fully vaccinated), the group can be considered a “family unit,” and masking and physical distancing restrictions can be lifted. Exact testing schedules may vary depending on course logistics and course length. Fully vaccinated students may test fewer times on course than non vaccinated students, per CDC guidance.
What protocols should participants follow before their course start?
For 14 days prior to your course start, we request that students limit their interaction with people outside their family, and use proper PPE, good hygiene practices and physical distancing as recommended by the CDC.
During the 3-day period between a student’s mandatory negative COVID-19 viral test and course start, students should continue these protocols, and also avoid large crowds/gatherings and limit unnecessary travel.
Will there be new paperwork to fill out?
Yes. All students and parents will need to sign an additional COVID-19 Statement of Understanding that outlines your responsibilities and commitment to arriving at Outward Bound healthy. We also require a Health Declaration Form and may request a 14-day pre-course health log.
Will my child be denied acceptance to Outward Bound if they have underlying health conditions?
Having an underlying health condition would not automatically exclude anyone from participating in Outward Bound. All students undergo a medical screening process that is tailored to each specific course. Students with underlying conditions are advised to check with their physicians about any additional risks of contracting a communicable disease.
Will you screen for COVID-19 symptoms at the beginning of course?
Upon arrival at your course start, our instructors will do a health check with you. They will collect your health history from the last 14 days and discuss any recent changes to medication and possible COVID-19 symptoms. Staff will consult with local health authorities as needed.
Why do I need to get tested and what are the conditions?
Testing for Covid-19 is another step NWOBS is taking to help limit the spread of the illness and to mitigate potential exposure to staff and students. These precautions are taken with the well-being of students, staff, and the larger communities in which we operate in mind.
Will I be required to wear a face mask while at Outward Bound?
Masks will be worn when in proximity to others in the group and while preparing food, until "family unit" status has been achieved. In addition, you will be asked to wear a face mask in specific situations at specific times. We have structured your Outward Bound course so that your group can usually distance itself from other non-course staff and groups. You will be required to wear a mask at the drop-off location for the start of the course, and during the expedition if you are unable to socially distance from people outside of your expedition brigade. You and your group will also need to wear masks if someone within the group presents symptoms that cannot be attributed to another illness, or if you need to leave the course for any health reason to visit a doctor. Washable cloth face masks have been added to all course packing lists.
Will staff be required to wear masks?
Staff will be required to wear masks when they need to interact with people outside of the immediate group and social distancing is not possible, as well as in the situations described in student face mask protocols, above.
What preventative measures will be taken during the course to prevent the spread of communicable disease?
Daily Health Checks: Our instructors will be performing daily health checks with each student. If a student presents with any signs of symptoms of COVID-19, they will be immediately separated from the group and evacuated for testing as soon as possible.
In Field Practices:
Physical Distancing for the first 12-days of course. Physical Distancing practices will be maintained as much as possible and masks will be worn when physical distancing is not possible. After 12-days, the group will be considered a stable “family unit” and physical distancing practices will be relaxed.
Food preparation: all staff and students who are preparing food will be wearing masks and frequently washing their hands.
Sleeping: When possible, students will have their own individual shelters. When sharing larger tarps, students will sleep at least 30” apart.
Frequent opportunities for handwashing will be created throughout the day. When water is limited, students will have their own hand sanitizer to use regularly.
Hygiene: students will be taught rigorous hygiene standards. These will include cleaning of serving utensils and dishes, handwashing procedures, walking away to sneeze or cough into the crook of an arm and then washing hands, not touching face with unwashed hands.
Will NWOBS support staff also be tested for COVID-19?
All program staff with direct interaction with students will be tested or have provided proof of vaccination or recovery, as defined by the CDC.
What happens if someone in the group exhibits COVID-19-like symptoms?
We will take every precaution to keep you healthy while you are on your course. If students arriveat course with flu-like symptoms or any COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be allowed to join the course. If a student or staff member shows symptoms of COVID-19 on course, they will be separated from the group. Staff will seek medical consultation and likely the student will be evacuated for testing. Depending on the situation, our goal would be for the rest of the group to continue with their expedition during this time. Upon receiving clearance from our school consulting physician or the local clinic, the student may be able to return to the group. We have set aside specific cabins and tents at our basecamps to be used as places for a student or staff person to isolate if necessary.
What happens if someone in the group tests positive for COVID-19?
Despite pre-course-screening, physical distancing requirements, good hygiene, and careful measures, it is impossible to guarantee that you will not contract COVID-19 while on an NWOBS course. If a student does test positive for COVID-19, Outward Bound will isolate and care for the student on-site until a parent can travel to the basecamp (within a 48 hour window) and assume care of the student off site. Outward Bound will seek medical care based on the student’s signs and symptoms and local medical advice, involving parents in the conversation as practical.
Could Outward Bound still be canceled?
We hope not, but the answer is yes. Our decision to run programs was made after careful reflection on risk versus benefit. As we gather new information and assess the most current information on disease spread, we reserve the right to cancel programming if we feel that is the safest option for the health and safety of our students and staff. We are also following state guidelines. Should Oregon or Washington see a significant rise in disease spread and implement additional directives, we may have to again pause programming.
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