COVID-19 POLICY 

Safety is paramount to The Expedition School. We are continuing to monitor the local, state, national, and global germ prevention, and response protocols from Austin Public Health, Travis County Public Health, Texas Department of State and Health Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, The American Red Cross, American Canoe Association, and the American Camp Association. Below are the steps The Expedition School is taking to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses — specifically COVID-19 — before, during, and after programming (including teambuilds, Field Sessions, paddle programs, outdoor recreation, classroom instruction, rental operations, etc.)

Staff Training

The Expedition School prides itself on having highly trained and qualified professional guides and educators. All lead guides are trained at a minimum in Wilderness First Aid and Waterfront Lifeguarding and have experience in patient assessment and the appropriate use, removal, and disposal of personal protective equipment (PPE). Additionally, The Expedition School Guides are trained in the policies and procedures listed below.

  • All staff (guides, medics, facilitators, etc.) have been trained to correctly don, doff, maintain, and dispose of PPE and face masks relevant to their respective level of protection.
  • Staff trained on hand hygiene after removing gloves.
  • Staff trained on proper cleaning and disinfection of all surfaces, gear, equipment, and supplies
  • Staff have been trained on the importance of vigilantly monitoring their health for symptoms associated with COVID-19 and staying home if they are showing any.
  • Flexible leave policies: No requirement of a healthcare provider’s note for leave from work or return to work.
  • Staff are permitted to take leave to care for a sick family member.

Before Programming

  • Participants should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the level of risk that programming poses to them and those in their household.
  • Participants and The Expedition School Guides will be screened upon arrival to each program for symptoms, history of possible exposure, and a temperature check. For week-long programs, ongoing screening will take place each day.
  • The Expedition School will keep a record of participants’ names and contact information in order to notify the entire group of a possible exposure and for efficient contact tracing.
  • If participants have been ill or have any signs of illness within 72 hours prior to the class (fever, cough, breathing difficulties/shortness of breath, or other symptoms) you should not attend the program and instead contact us to reschedule your program.
  • Anyone who has experienced a fever greater than 100.4F/38C in the last 7 days will not be admitted to the program.

*Please be assured that all non-disposable equipment used during programming will have been cleaned prior to student use.*

During Programming

The Expedition School Guides will review the procedures during all programming to minimize the risk of infection. The Expedition School will follow these safe practices throughout all programming:

  • Guides and participants must wear face coverings during programming and while on the property. If participants cannot wear a face covering to their program, they will not be admitted. It is understood and acceptable for the mask to be lowered during physically active programming that takes place more than 6 ft away from other patrons and guides (e.g. paddling, biking, etc.).
  • Guides and participants must perform hand hygiene using soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol will be substituted.
  • Soap and water, or hand sanitizer, will always be available on site.
  • At a minimum, hand hygiene should be performed at the following times:
    • Beginning and ending of program
    • Before and after meals and snacks
    • Before and after restroom use
    • After coughing or sneezing
  • There will be 6 feet of separation between participants and guides at all times, as well as no physical contact unless medically necessary.
  • Activities that require closeness or physical touch have been removed from programming (i.e. many teambuilding initiatives).
  • Programming will be limited to 4 participants : 1 Expedition School instructor per session.
  • For weekly programs, participants can expect to see the same Expedition School Guides the entire week to minimize exposure.
  • All programming will take place outdoors in a well ventilated area.
  • Participants are responsible for bringing and utilizing their own snacks and water bottles.
  • Guides and participants should cough or sneeze into a tissue or elbow.
  • Guides and participants should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Staff will disinfect high touch surfaces such as handrails, paddles, watercraft, gates, etc.
  • Whenever possible, certain gear and equipment (e.g., PFDs, paddles, etc.) will be designated to individuals for the duration of a program, to decrease the quantity of shared items.

After Programming

Appropriate cleaning of all programming materials and surfaces — based on CDC guidance and the manufacturers’ approved processes for those cleaning products — will occur at the conclusion of a program or activity.

All non-disposable equipment is cleaned using an approved process after each class. All cleaning protocols:

  • Follow CDC guidance, including updated COVID-19 guidance
  • Are based on manufacturers’ directions
  • Adhere to use instructions for cleaning products

Additional Precautions for Participants

The CDC keeps an updated list of best practices to stay safe. Researchers stress the fact that community mitigation is key and everyone has a role to play to protect themselves and others. Some key steps include:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds frequently and thoroughly
  • If soap and water are not available, use at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Do not touch your face (especially eyes, nose or mouth) with unwashed hands
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often with home cleaning products and then follow with disinfectants that contain either adequate concentrations of bleach or are minimum 70% alcohol-based.
  • Absolutely stay home if you are sick
  • Stay home as much as possible, even if you don’t feel sick
  • Practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings

*Visit this CDC website for daily practices to keep you and your community safe*

In addition to our daily screening process, we encourage all participants to participate in a free online screening by Austin Public Health 72 hours prior to the start of your program with The Expedition School.

  • Visit If You are Sick and click on the Take a Self-Assessment button and follow the prompts to create an account and answer the self-assessment questions.
  • Once completed, you will receive a recommendation based on your responses and risk-level. We ask that all recommendations from Austin Public Health are followed.

Routine Cleaning

Regular and routine cleaning and sanitizing is necessary to ensure a low risk environment for our staff and participants. Surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized as necessary – dependent on use, exposure, and porosity. Details on how specific items/areas will be cleaned are listed below.

All cleaning and disinfecting solutions in use are recommended and approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19 and other coronaviruses.

Preparation of Detergent Spray Solution

  • Any staff member preparing spray bottles with detergent must wear eye protection/goggles and gloves.
  • Using the manufacturer’s instructions, fill spray bottle with the appropriate amount of detergent solution and water, if the manufacturer recommends dilution. A funnel (not to be used for consumables) can be used to reduce spills and splashing.
  • Replace the spray cap and label the detergent bottle with the contents using a permanent marker.
  • The detergent manufacturer’s instructions must be provided to all staff carrying out cleaning activities, and applicable Safety Data Sheets must be kept on file.

Preparation of Disinfectant Spray Solution

  • Any staff member preparing spray bottles with disinfectant must wear eye protection/goggles and gloves and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Using the manufacturer’s instructions, fill the spray bottle with the appropriate amount of disinfectant solution and water, if the manufacturer recommends dilution. A funnel (not to be used for consumables) can be used to reduce spills and splashing.
  • A dilute bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution can be used by adding 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
  • Replace the spray cap and label the disinfectant bottle with the contents using a permanent marker.
  • The disinfectant manufacturer’s instructions must be provided to all staff carrying out cleaning activities, and applicable Safety Data Sheets must be kept on file. 

Typical Cleaning for Non-Porous Surfaces

  • Cleaning staff should wear eye protection and disposable gloves.
  • Using a detergent cleaning solution, spray 6 to 8 inches from the non-porous surface and wipe with clean paper towels (or according to manufacturer’s instructions) to remove visible contamination, if present.
  • Make sure the surface is dry before applying disinfectant. Review the instructions provided by the disinfectant manufacturer to note the concentration, application method, and necessary contact time. This will vary by product and type of cleaning activity.
  • Allow the disinfectant to remain on the surface for the instructed time and wipe with paper towels.
  • After a cleaning task is complete, remove gloves and dispose of properly. Carefully wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water as described. Hand sanitizer may be used if water is not available and no visible dirt is observed on hands.
  • Reusable aprons or work clothing may be used, if laundered or washed after use.

Typical Cleaning for Porous Surfaces

CDC recommends removing or limiting use of soft and porous materials, such as area rugs and couches, as they are more difficult to clean and disinfect.

At this time few products for use on porous surfaces are EPA approved. Products identified contain the active ingredients quaternary ammonium and hydrogen peroxide, both of which should be used carefully by trained staff. In addition, some products’ manufacturer’s instructions note that they are not approved for use in California.

  • Eye protection and gloves should be worn during cleaning activities.
  • First remove visible contamination, if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on porous surfaces.
  • Launder items, if applicable, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and then dry items completely.
  • Otherwise, use disinfectant products suitable for porous surfaces. NOTE: If some porous surfaces are not suitable for cleaning with disinfectants, then clean them as much as possible and attach a sign to them saying they are not to be used or touched for three days.

Cleaning & Storing Life Jackets

After use, Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) will be cleaned as recommended by the manufacturer and then left to dry in a warm, low humidity environment for at least 72 hours before reuse.

All PFDs will be hand washed or sponged down in warm, soapy water. Then, rinsed with clean water and hung to dry on a plastic coat hanger. PFDs are never dry-cleaned, cleaned with chlorine bleach, or exposed to direct heat. PFDs are stored fully dried in a warm, dry, well ventilated place out of direct sunlight.

  • COVID-19 virus may exist three days (72 hours) on or in clothing. Virus can exist longer on porous surfaces.
  • Synthetic fabrics, plastic, and metal surfaces may harbor the virus longer.
  • Buckles, zippers, other hardware and hook/loop fasteners (e.g. Velcro®) are hard to clean due to crevasses and metal/plastic construction.
  • Using 60 – 90% solutions of alcohol sprayed/wetted on these components is acceptable.
  • Avoid spraying inflatables with specific disinfectants that are detrimental to the fabric. e.g. bleach-based products.
  • Do not machine launder life jackets.
  • Life jackets should be hand-washed with gloved hands – wash as hot as possible (< 60C/140F) to kill the virus. Hotter would be better in trying to kill the virus, but it is not advisable since the fabrics are only certifiable up to 60C.
  • Ensuring complete drying is critical, heated air drying is encouraged < 60C
  • Virus likes moisture and can survive in cold – virus dies by drying out and by heat, which some fibers can enhance.
  • This pandemic is a new challenge and it is truly not known how all materials and the virus respond to laundry.
  • If hanging to air dry, allow 72 hours (three days) before reuse.
  • Do not share garments.

DISCLAIMER: Remember it is not possible to carry out or guarantee complete disinfection, the goal is to minimize risk.

NOTE: This language was originally produced by and is being referenced from the Life Jacket Association (LJA).

Watercraft

All watercraft will be cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis with a disinfectant spray.

Waterfront Environments

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 is not waterborne. There is no current evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in a pool, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance of pools and related facilities will likely inactivate the virus in the water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states “there is no evidence showing anyone has gotten COVID-19 through drinking water, recreational water, or wastewater. The risk of COVID-19 transmission through water is expected to be low.”

However, it is important to follow safe physical distancing and proper hygiene practices at lake and pond recreational areas. All aquatic recreational areas should consider the following:

  • Ensure participant(s) and staff practice proper hand hygiene prior to entering and leaving the facilities or waterfront:
  • Instruct participant(s) to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after activities, or
  • Provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol before and after activities.
  • Maintain adequate staff to ensure camper safety. Efforts to maintain physical distancing should not impact existing camp safety protocols (e.g., first aid, CPR, one-on-one interaction.)
  • Participate in activities by small groups. Physical cues spaced 6 feet apart in areas of congregation and while waiting to enter waterfront areas or other facilities.
  • Maintain routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces daily throughout facilities (e.g., lifeguard stands, railings, etc.) with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) List N disinfectants.
  • Clean and disinfect all shared items and equipment (e.g., kickboards, life-saving devices, pool noodles, etc.).

*There is no current evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in a pool or waterfront. For natural waterfronts, it is best to follow proper physical distancing and good hygiene practices as outlined above.*

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