Is it okay to do X,Y,Z during my 10-Day Precautionary Period?
As Mike mentioned in a recent email, we urge folks not to ask for our opinion on (or to condone) personal events like vacations and travel that pierce our 10-Day Pre-Program Precautionary Health Period. Unfortunately, we can’t develop an exhaustive list of “do’s” and “don’ts” simply because we all know that there are unsafe, safe, safer, and safest ways to limit the risk of possible exposure to COVID-19. Of course, we won’t be with our students and their families during these ten days, but I would point out that we’re not the judge and jury of “appropriateness.” We are already anticipating situations where students will be publicly called out on social media by others for posting pictures of themselves at gatherings, events, or in places that are “judged” inappropriate.
We can only direct you back to the section of our COVID risk management strategy, where we ask students to “limit exposure” by avoiding unnecessary contact with those who are not operating within an environment of active COVID-19 risk mitigation. Read through the section again, then consider whether the event you mention falls within this spirit of what we ask every student and family to do. The number one strategy for running a successful program this summer is to ensure that our students are free from infection at the start of the trip. Our programs are the antithesis of social distancing, so if even one infected student slips through, it will ruin the group’s experience.
But.. but.. my child is vaccinated...
We know that many of our older students will be fully vaccinated by the trip start date. Still, with no vaccine claiming 100% efficacy and the global viral spread persisting at a high level, we require vaccinated students to follow the same procedures as those who are unvaccinated.
What's the deal with the UK Travel Ban?
At present, vacation travelers cannot enter the BVI if they have been in the UK, Brazil, South Africa, or the Dominican Republic at any point in the past 14 days. We asked Hon. Carvin Malone, Minister of Health about this specifically as it relates to our students from the UK. Mr. Malone told us that this resolution was in lockstep with the UK government’s February resolution to make vacation travel illegal. We cannot speculate when either the UK or the BVI will change their vacation travel stance, but we understand that the BVI plans to review this determination on May 31st, 2021.
Why are you requiring vaccintations?
Thanks for your question about our current requirement that all students and staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the program start date.
To explain our rationale in more detail, the way that many countries protocols currently stand is that partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated travelers are either not permitted to enter or, alternatively, must quarantine for a specified period of time upon arrival. For those who are not fully vaccinated, the British Virgin Islands currently mandates a four to seven-day quarantine followed by additional PCR testing to be cleared.
Additionally, traveling as a family unit or “pod”, currently defaults everyone to the quarantine and testing protocol required to be followed by the person who is “least” vaccinated. This locks that entire group of students for the duration of the required quarantine period, limiting our ability to run our full program activities for one whole week.
Until the health professionals of the countries we visit change their protocols and disregard the vaccination status of a traveler when determining their quarantine and testing regimen, we don’t see a viable way to maximize the program experience for all, hence our decision to require all students to be fully vaccinated by the start of the program.
We’ll certainly let you know if we’re able to change our current policy on vaccination, as I am sure we’d love to have your kids on the program too!