Sept 13, 2021 (see below for modifications)
What follows is an overview of the risk mitigation protocols and procedures we used during the summer of 2021 plan to successfully run our programs in the British Virgin Islands.
We know that rules, regulations, and best practices will change over the course of the fall and spring, so while the specifics may well change, we anticipate that our protocols for summer 2022 will be developed around the following over-arching strategies:
- Reduce the possibility of an infected person joining the program.
- Combine on-program testing with a short “QuaranTeam” period.
- Once clear, limit opportunities for a student or staff member to become infected for the duration of the program.
Answering the difficult questions of “What if”
Naturally, students and parents want to know how we would respond to a suspected or diagnosed case of COVID-19 on our program. Given that most of our programs are mobile, and run aboard sailing vessels this isn’t an easy question to answer without examining the full range of possible variables. Specifically:
- Is the individual showing symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19, or is there a positive diagnosis?
- When is the suspected or diagnosed case occurring? Pre-trip, during the onboarding, during, or after the QuaranTeam period?
- How ill is the individual? As we know, many people have limited symptoms or none at all. Others are affected more significantly, with some requiring medical care and hospitalization.
- What’s our geographical location, and, as a result, what medical or emergency response resources are available to us? Ordinarily, sailing nearshore will provide more support than when we are further afield, yet some locations have better medical facilities than others. An additional consideration is the required health protocols of the country in which we are located.
Irrespective of the above factors, our response strategy would include:
- Isolation and quarantine to the extent possible. This is difficult aboard the vessel, so we would likely relocate the individual to shoreside accommodation if possible. Depending on the severity of the symptoms and/or vessel schedule, it’s possible that we would require a parent/guardian to travel to the shoreside location to assist with their student during their recovery.
- Close discussion with MedAire (our risk management partner) in addition to local health departments of the country in which we are located to ensure that we are following established protocols
- Testing to establish a firm diagnosis. For health and safety reasons, a positive diagnosis of any individual would require dismissal from the vessel until the individual is infection-free. A known, positive diagnosis would result in widespread testing and an additional QuaranTeam period for the rest of the crew.
- Careful monitoring of the health of the rest of the cohort. The crew may be required to disembark the vessel or move to separate accommodations to conduct a deep cleaning.
“We've always considered the ActionQuest experience to be more about the journey rather than the destination, so we believe that our ability to provide life-changing experiences during this challenging time is a result of the inherent flexibility and self-sufficiency that living, traveling, and learning aboard sailing vessels provide. ”