Summary of updated COVID-19 Policy for 2023 (as of May 2023):

  • All IFR students must complete a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and receive the most recent booster dose recommended for them by CDC, if eligible, prior to traveling to the field school destination.
  • Students are strongly encouraged to wear an N-95 or surgical mask while traveling to their program and while taking public transportation. You should bring your own PPE for travel and  the duration of the program, if masking is required at your specific program.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and/or  you have been exposed to COVID-19, tell your program director(s), maintain distance and separate living quarters to prevent transmission, wear a mask indoors and take a COVID-19 rapid test. 
  • If you test positive for COVID-19 during the program, tell your program director(s). You should follow local protocols and recommendations for isolation, distancing and masking. While in the US, please follow CDC recommendations:

Please read our full policy below.

Please consult these resources before and during the enrollment process for your IFR program:

IFR has updated 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 (

We are recommending students adopt best-practices for arriving in a good state of health to protect themselves and their peers’ readiness to set about the work of the field school. A thriving field camp environment is a constant exchange of energy, patience, effort, respect, and service. Arriving healthy is every student’s first act of service — their first opportunity to behave in a way that respects the safety and wellness of one another.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Program directors and supporting project staff will oversee COVID-19 mitigation efforts in accord with local regulations and the distinct conditions in each location.
  6. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 for more details, which will be posted on our Health Insurance webpage once available. 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.
  4. The IFR Withdrawal and Cancellation Policy, will apply as long as the field school operates.

Getting Ready for Your Field School

Travel to Your Program

We strongly recommend that IFR students follow these practices to help limit exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses prior to and while traveling to their program, as well as any others that a student deems appropriate:

  1. Wear an N-95 or surgical mask while traveling to the program and while using public transportation (planes, trains, buses, taxis, etc.)
  2. Use frequent and thorough hand washing
  3. 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 their field school, if required by their specific field program or it is the student’s preference to mask. 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.

COVID-19 Vaccination

In order to participate in an IFR field school, students must complete a COVID-19 vaccine primary series and receive the most recent booster dose recommended for them 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

In light of the current state of the pandemic, IFR has lifted many of our basic COVID-19 restrictions and requirements. The COVID-19 practices for each program may be more extensive, however, as we strive to meet all local requirements for COVID-19 testing, treatment, and transmission precautions in the host country or state (if a domestic program). Students may choose to adopt practices above what is required for their particular program as they see fit.

As of May 22, 2023 we require the following COVID-19 practices:

-vaccination (please read details above,”Getting Ready for Your Field School”.

-we strongly recommend wearing an N-95 or surgical mask while traveling to the field school and while using public transportation

In the Case of Symptoms or Illness

If a participant develops COVID-19 symptoms, including respiratory symptoms of a presumed infectious cause, we will require:

-antigen rapid testing (we strongly recommend students bring a supply of their own COVID-19 rapid home kit tests, but the field school may have a modest supply available)

-wearing masks indoors 

-separate living quarters (this may be at the cost of the student if the project cannot supply separate quarters).*

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 May 22, 2023