Please consult these resources before and during the enrollment process for your IFR program:
IFR has begun enrollment for Winter and Summer 2023 field schools!
To support our students, faculty, and the local communities in which we work in reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, IFR has modified our COVID-19 policies with expert guidance from risk management and health authorities such as the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and IFR’s Medical Director, Dr. Kurt Eifling. Dr Eifling is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and a practicing physician (https://ifrglobal.org/about/staff/).
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.
Before You Go to Your Field School
Our students have chosen to undertake the inherently risky endeavor of field work in pursuit of their learning and research objectives. While IFR cannot guarantee the safety of our students, we work diligently throughout the year to provide structures intended to safeguard the well-being of our students, our faculty, and the communities in which we work. Ultimately, those structures depend on the ethical grounding of our students and staff to provide for the safety of themselves and those around them.
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 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 duration 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.
- Program directors and supporting project staff will oversee COVID-19 mitigation efforts in accord with local regulations and the distinct conditions in each location.
- In emergency situations, the normal COVID-19 protocols may need to be deprioritized temporarily to address a more pressing or immediate risk to a student’s health and/or safety.
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, the final “go/no go” decision for your field school may take place 5–6 weeks prior to the beginning of the program. We recommend students be aware of the following details which are designed to insulate students from financial uncertainty.
- In the event that a field school is canceled, all accepted students will be notified as soon as possible and will receive a refund of all tuition paid, including the deposit fee. IFR offers students the opportunity to transfer to another field school, permitting that there are spots available and the program director approves the student to participate in their field school. Upon approval of the program director, IFR staff will make the arrangements to transfer the student’s application and payments.
- About 5-6 weeks prior to the first day of their program, students will receive notification about the go/no go decision for their program. We suggest students consider postponing the purchase of their airline ticket until after the pre-program orientation.
- At present, IFR does not provide coverage for COVID-19 related evacuation and related expenses in its insurance package. IFR’s GeoBlue insurance that covers each eligible IFR student does have limited trip interruption insurance for COVID-19 cases that occur after the student arrives in the host country of the field school. Please read the 2023-2024 GeoBlue Brochure on our Health Insurance webpage for more details. 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.
- The IFR Withdrawal and Cancellation Policy, will apply as long as the field school operates.
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:
- Wear a mask in public and when traveling (planes, trains, buses, taxis, etc.)
- Maintain physical distance of 6 feet / 2 meters from other people wherever possible
- Use frequent and thorough hand washing
- Monitor for COVID-19 symptoms
Students will need to bring sufficient PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) for travel to and from the field school location as well as to last the duration of my field school. The pre-program orientation will include information about PPE and other items students will need to bring to the field school. We recommend purchasing these supplies well in advance of the field school.
In order to participate in an IFR field school, students must provide proof of completion of a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and receive the most recent booster dose recommended for you by CDC, if eligible, prior to traveling to the field school destination. Booster shots should be received at least 14 days prior to departure. For recommendations and eligibility for booster shots for your age and health status, please consult the CDC website.
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.
Supporting the Well-Being of Students
Students who are enrolled and have paid their tuition for an IFR field program gain access to a session with IFR’s Medical Director. The goal of a session is to help students understand their risks and to support the student’s own management of their mental and physical health with their regular care team.
During Your Field School
Wearing face masks, combined with vaccination, are among the most effective ways of minimizing the spread of the coronavirus. All program participants must adhere to the following practices in order to minimize the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19 during their field school:
- For the first 6 days, wear a mask when indoors with others, in public spaces, interacting with local community members and whenever you are unable to maintain a 6-foot / 2-meter distance from other people.
- Test for COVID-19 on day 6 of the program (home kit tests will be provided by IFR), and if negative, follow local masking protocols in the host country or state (if a domestic program). Participants may choose to mask even when masking is not required by the host country.
- Maintain a 6-foot/ 2-meter distance from other people
- Remain in assigned, individual or “pod” sleeping arrangements, if designated.
- Frequently wash and sanitize hands
- Interactions with the members of the local community are often an important part of the field school experience. Please take all reasonable precautions, maintaining a 6-foot / 2-meter physical distance from local community members and ideally being outside.
The objective of wearing a mask is to capture potentially infectious droplets from the wearer. Therefore:
- Masks or respirators that are equipped with an “exhalation valve” are not permitted, unless covered by another mask.
- Neck fleeces (gaiter masks) are considered the least effective form of face masks and are not permitted. (The material found in gaiters tends to break down large droplets into smaller particles that are more easily carried away in the air.)
- Folded bandanas and knitted masks are ineffective and are not permitted.
- Masks must be worn so as to cover both the mouth and nose.
In the Case of Symptoms or Illness
If a participant develops COVID-19 symptoms and/or tests positive for COVID-19, they must be isolated from the group. During the field school, participants will follow local guidelines for isolation/quarantine. IFR will seek advice, both from its medical director and from local authorities, to determine the best plan of care that considers both the needs of the patient and the operational needs of the field school environment. Such decisions are difficult and will be made with careful consideration. In many cases, a student may isolate themselves in a facility near the field school. The pre-program orientation will discuss local isolation and quarantine protocols, and other health care arrangements that may be required if a COVID-19 outbreak occurs once a field school has started.
Program participants are responsible for housing and other costs associated with any quarantine or isolation required before, during, or after an IFR field school. Program directors will help identify appropriate locations for isolation/quarantine and will provide information about contacts, costs, etc., to students in advance of their field school. Students who miss all or part of the program due to COVID-19 may not be able to rejoin the program due to logistical or other challenges and may not be able to earn academic credit for the course due to their inability to participate the full duration of the program.
Updated November 2022