As Rustic Pathways prepares to welcome students to in-person travel experiences in 2021, we remain committed to responsibly managing risk. Risk is inherent to travel, and like all risks, the chance of contracting COVID-19 can be thoughtfully and carefully reduced, and robust measures can be put in place.
What Our Team Is Doing
We rely on international and federal agencies such as the WHO and CDC, and state and local agencies along with our local partners in each destination country to stay up-to-date on COVID-19 in the destinations we visit, understand local and international orders and restrictions, entry and exit requirements, and other developments that might impact travel or the trip experience. We use this information and the guidance of International SOS to determine whether or not to run a trip, and how we need to prepare to provide a smooth travel experience should our expert advisors decide it’s safe to move forward.
Updating Our Health and Safety Practices
To develop our guidelines for COVID-19 in particular, and disease management in general, Rustic Pathways relies on international and federal agencies such as the WHO and CDC, and state and local agencies such as departments of public health. We also consult medical advisors and peer organizations.
We’re adapting existing programs to include daily health checks for Students and Program Leaders. We’re adapting activities, lodging, transport and more to emphasize COVID-19 safety whether that means shifting an activity outdoors, using more vehicles, or ensuring cleaned and disinfected spaces. Program Leaders will provide cleaning supplies, hand-washing stations, soap, and hand sanitizer when proper hand-washing is not possible.
Participants will social distance during the program when practical, though there will be times throughout the program that close physical proximity is required. Groups will practice social distancing from anyone who is not part of the group.
Adding Contingency Plans
If at any time during a program a student feels unwell, our staff are prepared to assist in arranging in-person care with vetted medical facilities. If a student tests positive for COVID-19, Rustic Pathways staff will provide support and care until a parent is able to take over. At no point will Rustic Pathways staff leave any student.
What We Ask Of Participants
Safe Travel Guidelines
Participants must sign the COVID-Specific Student Pledge at the start of the program. These guidelines are built from guidance from the CDC, WHO, and other organizations in order to best protect the safety and comfort of our travelers, program leaders, and communities we visit. For a complete list of guidelines, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before Your Trip
Students who are traveling on a Rustic Program should stay at home as much as possible for no less than 14 days prior to travel. To the extent possible, Participants should also ask members of their household to self-quarantine to minimize risk to self and group.
Participants should also self-monitor for 14 days and conduct a COVID-19 Daily Self-Check List including but not limited to:
- Take and record temperature daily for two weeks prior to the start of the program.
- Self-screen for the presence of symptoms (fever of 100.4 °F or greater, cough, shortness of breath, diarrhea, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, vomiting, etc.) within the past two weeks.
All Participants must complete an RT-PCR test no more than 72 hours prior to their program departure and must provide Rustic Pathways with those test results to minimize risk of COVID-19 infection.
Students must bring additional hand sanitizer and one disposable mask per day of the program, or three hand-washable masks.
Follow On-Trip Protocols
Proper hygiene practices will be expected by all Participants:
- Keep six feet of distance from others
- Frequent and thorough handwashing
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Avoiding touching one’s face
- Not sharing personal items such as water bottles
- Wearing masks when required or in close physical proximity
- Monitor temperature and symptoms daily
- Communicate with Program Leaders with any questions or concerns
After Your Program
Follow local guidelines regarding self-isolation and monitoring symptoms for up to 14 days following your return home. We ask that you contact us if you should become ill with COVID-19 symptoms or receive a positive test result within two weeks of the program’s end date so we can inform other Participants (while protecting anonymity).