Most recent substantive updates: June 7, 2021
Here at Apogee, we are eagerly looking forward to running our outdoor adventure programs again in the summer of 2021. We are confident that, in the absence of a significant global deterioration in the Covid-19 pandemic situation, we will have the necessary tools and protocols in place to responsibly run many, if not all, of our programs. As always, we will continue to put the well-being of our students and staff at the forefront of every programming decision we make.
Below is a list of questions and answers with regard to Apogee’s plans to operate in 2021. We’ve learned so much in the last year; and perhaps most importantly, we’ve been reminded of the need to remain nimble and responsibly adapt to the pandemic as circumstances warrant. As the summer landscape and challenges posed by Covid-19 are clarified, we will continue to work with our risk management team, our medical adviser, the American Camp Association, and other state and federal health agencies to update and develop practical protocols to minimize risk to our students, staff, and the communities we travel through. We will continue to update the FAQ here as the virus situation evolves.
Do you expect trip availability to be similar to years past?
No. Because the majority of 2020 enrolled families rolled their children’s applications to 2021, and because we reduced the number of trip offerings to build back up responsibly, availability is limited in 2021. As of May 2021, all of our trips are now full or very close to capacity. To check availability for a certain trip or trips, please check our Trip Availability Blog.
What steps does my child need to take before their Apogee program? Do they need to be tested for Covid-19?
Students will need to provide one of the following prior to the start of their Apogee program:
- Proof of full Covid-19 vaccination according to the CDC’s guidance (i.e., generally 14 days after the date of the final dose in an approved vaccination series);
- Negative results from a PCR or antigen Covid-19 test taken not more than 72 hours before the start of their Apogee program;
- Proof of lab-certified infection with Covid-19 in the last 90 days and not within the 10 days immediately prior to the start of their Apogee program.
We will also ask students, regardless of their vaccination status, to limit exposure opportunities in the two weeks prior to the start of their Apogee program. This does not mean that students must quarantine or isolate if not otherwise required to do so. It does, however, mean that we will ask students to wear masks when appropriate, to physically distance when with others outside of their “bubble,” and to pay particular attention to hygiene.
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 that, when the group is outdoors and away from others in the community, we are not likely to require that students and staff wear masks 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, exploring a town, 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 or three students per tent. 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.
Will your staff be tested or vaccinated for Covid-19?
Yes. We are requiring our summer trip leading staff to be vaccinated against Covid-19.
What happens if a student or staff-member tests positive for Covid-19 during an Apogee program?
We strongly feel that with the cooperation of our families ahead of time (with particular regard to pre-trip testing, vaccinations for eligible students, and minimizing pre-trip exposure opportunities) and appropriate precautions in the field, the likelihood of a positive Covid-19 diagnosis occurring on trip is small. Nonetheless, it is possible a student or staff-member will receive a positive Covid-19 diagnosis during one of our programs.
Apogee is not a traditional camp and lacks the ability to isolate or quarantine positive and/or exposed students and staff on a campus. Depending on the circumstances, a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 during an Apogee program may result in the cancellation of the program. In such an event, Apogee staff will monitor and supervise affected students for a limited time period to allow parents sufficient time to either pick up their child or make other quarantine arrangements that are legal in the jurisdiction where the group is operating (for example, in California if the group is in Yosemite National Park when the diagnosis is confirmed).
One of the advantages to a program like ours, however, is the variety of programming we offer in different locations. Accordingly, the right solution for a positive Covid-19 diagnosis might look very different on, for example, a seven-day Maine Coast Junior trip than it would on a 20-day Northwest Explorer trip. We will only cancel a program after it has started if that is the only way to responsibly ensure the safety and health of our students and staff.
Similarly, the number of vaccinated students on an individual trip may allow Apogee to continue running a program after a positive Covid-19 diagnosis. For example, if eight out of 12 students on a trip are not vaccinated and there is a single confirmed case of Covid in the group, we will almost certainly have to cancel that trip in progress because of the need to quarantine potentially exposed, unvaccinated individuals (in this case, seven of 12 students, not including the Covid-positive student). On the other hand, if eight out of 12 students are vaccinated and we have a single confirmed case of Covid in the group and we are following current CDC guidance, we will very likely not need to cancel the trip for the vaccinated students. Because of this, we strongly encourage families to pursue vaccination against Covid-19 for their children if they are eligible.
We will pro-rate any refunds associated with Apogee’s decision to cancel a trip before its conclusion for any reason, including a cancellation due to a Covid-19 diagnosis. Families are responsible for additional transportation, supervision, and medical expenses associated with a cancellation due to Covid-19; for that reason, we strongly encourage you to take out a trip insurance policy which provides coverage for similar expenses. We are providing this information ahead of time in the interest of full transparency. It bears repeating that we feel the chances of a Covid-19 diagnosis on any given trip are relatively small.
What if Apogee cancels a trip because of Covid-19?
We don’t anticipate the need to cancel any US-based or Latin American programming in 2021. However, should we have to cancel a trip before it starts, we will offer enrolled families a full refund of program payments to date or a credit towards a 2021 or 2022 trip, at their choosing. If we have to cancel a trip because of Covid-19 or for any other reason after it has started, we will offer pro-rated refunds or credits.
Now that the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for 12-15 year olds, how does this change Apogee’s Covid Policy?
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 email@example.com or at 207.725.7025.
What happens if my child arrives at the trip start without having completed the Pre-Arrival Screening Form?
In short, please don’t let this happen. The Covid-specific Pre-Arrival Screening Form (PAS) is the primary tool we have to determine that students will be Covid-negative on arrival. In the absence of a completed PAS, we simply won’t know the student’s status and will have to treat the student as potentially Covid-positive. As such, we will have to separate any student who arrives without having completed the PAS (or presented proof of full Covid-19 vaccination) from the rest of the group, require that student to wear a mask at all times, and physically distance from others until we can have the student tested for Covid-19 and receive negative test results. Depending on the trip start location, obtaining a test and test results within a relatively short period of time may range from inconvenient to impossible. At a minimum, this will be disruptive to the group and interfere with our staff’s ability to successfully start their trip.
In an effort to meaningfully discourage families from sending their child to their Apogee program without completing the PAS, we will impose a minimum fee of $250 (the actual fee will include the $250 base fee in addition to any additional supervisory, testing, and transportation costs, etc.) in the case of any student arriving without having completed the PAS (or uploaded proof of full Covid vaccination) prior to the start of their trip.
Does my fully-vaccinated child need to be tested for Covid-19 prior to their trip start?
No. If we have received your Pre-Arrival Screening form providing proof of your child’s full Covid-vaccination, we will NOT require you to obtain another pre-arrival Covid test.