2021 COVID-19 Policies, Procedures, and Protocols

Risk management is a point of pride within the outdoor education community. Assessing challenging situations, weighing our options, and looking at all of our alternatives is common practice on river trips, backcountry ski tours, and backpacking expeditions. We look at these teachable moments as opportunities to hone our decision making skills that can translate into our everyday lives. Risk can help us grow, learn, and have fun. Likewise, it can backfire and cause turmoil, pain, or grief. Mitigating risk is about learning where our threshold is between acceptable and unacceptable risks; between growth and turmoil.

Much like the challenges of rapids, avalanches, and river crossings, there is an inherent risk to attending Appalachian Expeditions programs in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. To create opportunities for growth, learning, and fun through outdoor adventures, we want to minimize the risks we can and have outlined some policies, procedures, and protocols related to COVID-19.

In a nutshell, we cannot guarantee participants will not come into contact with COVID-19 on our programs. We will do everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus through changes to our programs and policies in the field (outlined below), and we are asking participants to do their part by following our pre-program policies to prevent participants from bringing COVID-19 into our programs. These policies, much like the situation with the pandemic, are in flux and will be updated as appropriate. Please check back in prior to your program for updated information.

Prior to the program:

  • Participants must take a PCR test one week prior to APEX programs and provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Participants should follow WV DHHR “Stay at Home” protocols between the COVID-19 test and the start of the program.
  • When traveling to APEX programs, participants should travel as directly as possible to APEX, minimize public interactions, wear masks in public spaces (e.g. rest areas and gas stations), and wash and sanitize hands regularly. For more information on domestic travel take a look at the CDC guidelines here.
  • If the participant experiences any signs or symptoms prior to the trip, contact us immediately and do not come to the APEX program. We will do everything possible to set the participant up on another program or offer a refund.

During the program:

  • We will continue to be entirely outside or in open air environments throughout the duration of our programs.
  • We will remain physically distanced when appropriate, and wear masks when conditions necessitate a distance of less than six feet. Masks will be worn in the van.
  • Participants will sleep 2-3 per tent or under an open air tarp. They will sleep head to foot when appropriate.
  • We will regularly wash and sanitize hands (as always) and ensure proper hygiene of all participants.
  • When cooking, the cook will sit physically distanced from the rest of the group while preparing food.
  • We will avoid, or keep short, interactions where one party is unmasked. Masks are a two part system and works best when both parties are masked.
  • Participants will be required to wear masks in all public spaces (including public restrooms).
  • Instructors will have daily check ins with each participant including questions such as: “Any fever symptoms, dry cough, or loss of taste/smell?”

If someone displays signs or symptoms of COVID-19:

  • We will evacuate that person immediately and physically distance participants who may have had close contact with that person.
  • If multiple people display signs or symptoms we will consider evacuating the entire group.
  • Parents/guardians of the participant will be immediately contacted and together, with APEX administrators and medical professionals, we will decide the next course of action. Participants will be provided with medical treatment and/or a place to quarantine until parents/guardians can pick up their child.
  • We ask APEX staff to get vaccinated unless this interferes with their religious/philosophical beliefs or staff has a disability that directly interferes with the vaccine.
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