IFR has begun enrollment for Summer 2021 field schools!
IFR provides high-quality experiential learning opportunities to students, that incorporate necessary precautions to support your health and well-being. To support our students, faculty, and the local communities in which we work in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, IFR has transformed our programs with expert guidance from risk management and health authorities such as the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.
IFR COVID-19 protocols require all participants in a field school to do their part individually to support a healthy, productive learning environment. IFR programs continue to emphasize mutual respect and care for all community members. This year, in response to the continuing concerns around COVID-19, we are very pleased to share these enhanced protocols.
Please consult these resources as you choose and enroll in your IFR program:
Before you go to your field school
The well-being of our students, faculty, and the communities in which we operate our field schools is our highest priority. Engaging in field research and traveling are inherently risky endeavors that all participants in our programs must accept in order to achieve learning and research objectives.
Our 2021 plans are informed by the fact that COVID-19 poses a risk to program participants. Our goal is to minimize this risk.
Program participants should be aware of the following potential risks:
- While in transit to and from their program, students may travel through and from locations that have different COVID-19 impacts and this may affect a student’s risk exposure.
- There is potential for illness during field schools. IFR protocols require program participants to wear masks, maintain a 6-ft/2-meter physical distance from others, and frequently wash their hands, but these measures cannot guarantee that program participants will not contract COVID-19 or other infectious diseases that may be passed from insects, animals, or people.
- Some IFR field schools take place in remote locations. Participants in such programs should be aware that rapid evacuation and quick access to treatment in emergency or medical facilities may not be possible.
- Local variation in COVID-19 protocols and regulations may affect the program operations before or during the dates of the field school. Students will be expected to adhere to the most current regional regulations and to follow all recommendations of their program director.
- Principal Investigators (also known as PIs or program directors, in other words, IFR faculty) will oversee COVID-19 mitigation efforts in accord with the distinct conditions in each location. Our PIs are people with field experience who make decisions based on personal perceptions, local norms, and information that may be imprecise or erroneous. IFR seeks to maintain good communication with project staff and students in order to support appropriate decision-making.
- In emergency situations, it may be necessary to address a more pressing or immediate risk to a student’s health and/or safety and so, in such a situation, the normal COVID-19 protocols may have to be neglected temporarily.
Financial Risk Management for Students
IFR is committed to implementing new or revised risk management practices, as information emerges from reputable sources and governing bodies. This may cause IFR to cancel a field school if the risk of the COVID-19 risk cannot be sufficiently reduced. Because of this situation, that is, that the final “go” decision for your field school may emerge near to your departure date, we recommend that students be aware of the following details which are designed to insulate students from financial uncertainty.
- Due to the possibilities of program cancellation or project changes, IFR will hold all student fees in an escrow account until near the date when the program is due to begin.
- At that point, students will receive word to make their travel reservations (likely this will be more than a month in advance).
- IFR has augmented the budget of each field school in order to help our field school directors cover COVID-19 adjustments, such as the need for more ventilation, outdoor work spaces, more indoor spacing, and other changes.
- At present, IFR does not provide coverage for COVID-19 related evacuation and related expenses in its insurance package. Students are strongly encouraged to purchase travel interruption, cancellation and travel medical insurance in order to insulate themselves additionally from costs that they may otherwise be responsible for paying. Check the insurance policy to determine that COVID-19 is a COVERED EVENT.
Getting ready for your field school
Students wishing to take part in an IFR field school must agree to take precautions to limit COVID-19 exposure prior to and while traveling to their program using the following practices, as well as any others that a student deems appropriate:
- Maintain physical distance of 6 feet/2 meters from other people wherever possible
- Use frequent and thorough hand washing
- Avoid touching face, nose, mouth, and eyes
- Wear a mask when in public or among other people
- Cover coughs and sneezes
- Avoid dine-in restaurants
- Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
IFR will provide a COVID-19 Packing List to participants with instructions on the amount and type of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that are necessary to bring to their program.
Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test
Students must provide evidence of a negative PC-RCT COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours before the start of their program. Do not travel to your IFR field school if you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell), or if you have been exposed to someone in the 14 days prior to your programs who has confirmed or suspected positive case of COVID-19.
We ask that you seriously evaluate your personal risk in attending an IFR program. For participants who are within a higher risk category for severe illness from COVID-19, as defined by the US Center for Disease Control, please consult with an IFR administrator and your healthcare provider and consider whether it is appropriate to attend an IFR program at this time.
Disclosure of Health Conditions to Support Student Well-being
Students who are enrolled and have paid their tuition for an IFR field program gain access to IFR’s Wilderness and Emergency Medical Director. The goal of a consultation is to support the student’s own management of their mental and physical health considerations and to identify the minimum medical disclosure necessary to support successful participation in an IFR field school.
During your field school
Once students arrive at their field school, an onsite health check questionnaire must be completed. Students must bring a copy of the results of their negative PCR test and must describe their precautions to remain COVID-19 free during travel to the field school.
The Syllabus Addendum will contain details for the planned testing , on-site isolation or quarantine protocols (as necessary), and other health care arrangements that may be required if a COVID outbreak occurs once a field school has started.
All program participants must adhere to the following practices in order to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 during the duration of their field school:
- Maintain a 6-foot/2-meter distance from other people.
- Wear a mask when indoors with others, in public spaces, and whenever you are unable to maintain the required 6-foot/2-meter distance.
- Remain in assigned, individual or “pod” sleeping arrangements.
- Frequent hand washing and sanitizing
- Minimize interaction with the local community; must be limited to situations where everyone can maintain the required 6-foot/2-meter physical distance, wear masks, and ideally be outside.
In the Case of Symptoms or Illness
If a participant develops COVID-19 symptoms, they must be isolated from the group. Field school staff will seek medical advice and follow IFR’s COVID-19 guidelines. If a student is evacuated, it is possible they will not be able to rejoin their course due to remoteness and/or logistics of re-entering the program.
Program participants are responsible for housing and other isolation costs for any quarantine that is required before, during, or after an IFR field school. Program Directors will identify appropriate locations for quarantine and will provide information about contacts, costs, etc., to students in advance of their field school. IFR strongly encourages all students to purchase a broad travel medical insurance policy that provides coverage for evacuation and other medical costs and that specifically covers COVID-19 as well as other normal medical issues. Check the insurance policy to determine that COVID-19 is a COVERED EVENT.