As it has for so many around the globe, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has posed numerous challenges for Apogee. Cancelling our 2020 summer season was one of the most agonizing decisions we’ve ever had to make. But in the end, we were certain that prioritizing the health and safety of our students and staff was, without question, the right thing to do.
Now, with summer 2020 behind us, we eagerly look forward to next year. If the situation in June 2021 is similar to what it was in June of 2020, we’re confident we will have the tools and protocols we would need in order to run many of our programs. And if, as we all hope, the situation by next summer is significantly better in the U.S. and abroad – due to accessible vaccines, better rapid testing, and better treatments and mitigation techniques – we are optimistic we will be able to run our full slate of programs, domestically and internationally. As always, we will continue to put the well-being of our students and staff at the forefront of every programming decision we make. We are therefore moving ahead and accepting student applications for 2021, putting our staff roster together, and making plans with outfitters and accommodations. We don’t know exactly what the world is going to look like next spring, but we are certain that we’re going to work very hard to run in-person programs for young people in 2021. We hope you’ll join us!
Below is a list of questions and answers related to our current thoughts and actions around Covid-19. As the 2021 summer landscape and challenges posed by Covid-19 become more clear, we will work with our risk management team, our medical adviser, the American Camp Association, and other state and federal health agencies to update and develop protocols to minimize risk to our students, staff and the communities we travel through. We will update and add to this list throughout the coming year as the virus situation evolves.
Have you changed your 2021 deposit terms and conditions due to the uncertainties caused by Covid-19?
Yes. Apogee has extended the $795 deposit refund date for any new* applicants from December 31, 2020 to March 1, 2021, with the exception of a $100 nonrefundable** application processing fee. Please see our updated Terms & Conditions for full details regarding refunds and withdrawals.
*Families who were enrolled in our cancelled 2020 season should refer to these cancellation-specific FAQs for more information.
**The full $795 deposit is refundable for all families who took advantage of our Early Bird Discount by signing up by December 6 (the nonrefundable fee does not apply to Early Bird families).
Do you expect trip availability to be similar to years past?
No. Because the majority of 2020 enrolled families have rolled their children’s applications to 2021, and because we have reduced the number of trips we plan to run in order to build back up safely, we anticipate trip availability to be limited in 2021. As of October 2020, a number of our 2021 trips are close to capacity.
Will Apogee students need to be tested for Covid-19 before joining an Apogee trip?
Very likely, unless a widely distributed vaccine changes the need for proactive testing. Because our groups will interact as an individual cohort (see below regarding face coverings and physical distancing), there’s a good chance we will require all students to present to Apogee either proof of a Covid-19 vaccination or a negative, molecular/PCR Covid-19 test result before leaving home to join their program. The exact time window that we ask for the test to be conducted will depend on the availability of testing in June of 2021, but will likely be between 48 and 72 hours before arrival. This requirement may vary from trip to trip based on the requirements of the jurisdictions to which we are traveling. We will also publish guidelines for students with respect to their actions in the days leading up to the trip (e.g., asking students to limit exposure opportunities, particularly after they have been tested) and we plan to ask students to fill out a Covid-19 questionnaire detailing any possible exposure prior to the trip.
Will Apogee students need to wear a face covering or physically distance while on trip?
Due to the small size of Apogee groups, and given that each student will be tested or vaccinated prior to trip start and screened for symptoms upon arrival, we plan to have groups operate as an individual cohort. This means we are not likely to require that students and staff wear masks while together and physically distance from each other on trip. However, students and staff will likely be required to physically distance and wear masks when interacting with communities outside their Apogee group (working with a community service partner, a third-party outfitter, going to the grocery store, etc.). Students may also be required to take additional precautions during activities that may present a higher risk of transmission (e.g., wearing masks while in vans).
What are accommodations likely to look like during the summer of 2021?
Accommodations will look a lot like they always have, with some modifications. When camping, we plan to limit tenting to two students per tent, with three students in a tent only if necessary (e.g., if there is an odd number of students on a trip). We plan to require students to wear a mask when using campground bathrooms or any other public facilities. For indoor accommodations, we will have exclusive use* of our rooms and will require students to wear a mask in any common area open to any other guests.
*Note that on our Alps Explorer and Pyrenees Mountains & Coast trips, we occasionally stay in mountain huts where we do not have exclusive use of the rooms. We will work with the huts to come up with a policy to reduce the risk of virus spread as the season draws near.
Will your staff be tested or vaccinated for Covid-19?
While this may change depending on the state of the pandemic and to the extent practicable, we plan to either require a pre-summer Covid-19 vaccination or test our staff prior to every trip and will limit staff interaction between trips. Additionally, we plan to practice a redundant staffing strategy this summer to allow for contingencies in the event of a positive test by a trip leader.
What if Apogee decides to cancel a trip because of Covid-19?
We certainly hope we won’t have to in 2021. But should that occur, we will do our best to let families know of the cancellation in a timely fashion. Additionally, those enrolled families would be offered, at their choosing, a full refund of their program payments to date or a credit towards a 2021 or 2022 trip.
How do I stay informed about your thoughts and decisions with regard to the Covid-19 pandemic?
We will be assessing and making programming decisions as circumstances warrant. We will do our best to keep our enrolled and prospective families informed in a timely manner through email and with regular updates to this webpage. If you are a prospective family and would like to be included on our email list, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 207.725.7025.