Whole Earth Covid-19 Preparedness and Guidelines

Here you can find all of our updates on how we are protecting campers, families, and our staff from the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the associated COVID-19, or coronavirus, disease. Our administrative staff monitor Oregon State COVID-19 news portals daily, including any new guidance issued by the Oregon State Governor’s Office among many other agencies. 

 

We invite you to remain updated by accessing these same resources below:

 

We are so grateful to be able to gather outdoors again and support our students in developing their confidence, resilience, and kinship with nature. It is our intention to provide an opportunity for wholesome nature connection while also maintaining the best COVID-19 safety guidelines possible.

Summer camps provide an important enrichment opportunity for children in our community. They also serve a crucial childcare need for many working parents. Given the current state of our world, you can expect changes throughout the summer as we do everything we can to keep our students, instructors, and families safe. 

In this time of uncertainty, we are truly grateful to be able to foster this experience for our campers and to provide meaningful work for our caring instructors. Please visit our Facebook Page to get real-time updates about what we’re up to at camp. 

We are here to support you; please feel free to reach out to us directly with any questions or concerns at contactus@wholeearth.org or give us a call at 541-937-KIDS (5437).

Please read on for important details, and we truly appreciate your understanding, flexibility, and continued support!

update for summer 2021

*Please note that our operating procedures are subject to change this summer in accordance to best practices and guidance regarding the COVID-19 pandemic*

 

As of July 5th:

We recognize there are inherent risks being outdoors, and we work diligently to manage them. Be it extreme weather, hazards in the forest, or COVID-19, we know that you entrust your children’s care to us and we prioritize their well-being and that of our staff.

Our administrative staff have always monitored the health and safety guidance of multiple agencies regarding the safe operation of our programs and we continue to do so daily. One of the most rapidly changing guidelines has been surrounding issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we often get emails before their websites are updated, you can visit these agencies’ websites to read their health and safety guidance directly: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State Governor’s Office, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Lane County Public Health, The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Camp Association (ACA), and the Department of Education (DOE). 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that Oregon lifted restrictions related to COVID-19, with some exceptions, starting June 30, 2021. The Oregon Health Authority quickly released new guidance in accordance with this policy shift. 

We appreciate your patience as we reviewed this new guidance and integrated it with the latest guidance from the other agencies and organizations listed above to update our operating policy.

As always, we will continue to monitor and integrate the guidance given by the organizations listed above, and publish any changes to our operations that the combined guidance suggests or mandates as we adjust to meet new best practices for health and safety as they relate to Whole Earth Nature School.

There are many COVID-19 health and safety factors considered and followed for our day camp programs, including: Health Screening, Maintaining a Healthy Environment, Hand Hygiene, Cohorting & Physical Distancing (including while eating/drinking), and Face Masks. Overnight camp programs have these additional considerations: Bathrooms, Venting, and Site Leaves & Returns.

Mask use is the most noticeable change to current best practices for health and safety. In conjunction with the recent OHA guidance change, we are changing our mask restrictions, starting with camps beginning on Monday, July 5th (Saturday, July 3rd for overnight camps). Masks will be required to be worn at drop off and pick up when distancing is difficult to maintain and at specific times during camp as outlined in our COVID-19 Mitigation Strategies below.

When Lane County’s risk is low, the following camp operations will apply. Should the county’s risk level increase according to relevant government agencies, we would reinstate our all-day masking requirements in accordance with and by consulting the applicable guidelines at that time. We ask for your understanding and flexibility as we also need to remain flexible with the changing landscape of this pandemic.

general camp Covid-19 procedures

VACCINATION

The OHA recommends that summer youth programs promote vaccination for eligible staff, youths and their family members.

SCREENING and TESTING

  • We have updated our screening questions at check-in and have updated our procedures in handling potential situations as a result of these screening questions.
  • We ask families to self-screen at home for illness before camp and ask that you stay home and let us know via ContactUs@WholeEarth.org or 541-937-KIDS (5437) if any of the following symptoms are present. (Do not bring your child to the program if they currently have or recently had an illness with COVID-19 symptoms.) 
    • Primary symptoms of concern: Cough, fever (temperature of 100.4°F or higher) or chills, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, congestion, or new loss of taste or smell.

ISOLATION, QUARANTINE, and CONTACT TRACING

  • We are using our screening procedures to direct students and their families to appropriate quarantine measures where applicable and are working with Lane County to provide contract tracing where required. 

MAINTAINING A HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT

(Ventilation, Limiting shared objects, Routine cleaning.)

  • Our cohorts have been redefined to mean two groups of students (between 16 and 24) which is in line with the previously recommended guidance of 30. 
    • Two groups of 12 students may interact with each other to play socially-distanced games, forming a larger cohort of 16 or 24 students for the week.
    • Cleaning bathrooms with our sanitation spray will occur after two groups of students (one cohort) uses the bathroom. After the first camp group of 12 students uses the facilities, approximately 5 minutes of a break will be implemented before inviting the second group of 12 students in their larger cohort to use the facilities. After this second group of students vacate the restrooms, we will sanitize the restroom for the next cohort. The two groups of students will remain the same the entire week.

HAND HYGIENE

Hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes (respiratory etiquette).

  • Students and staff will wash their hands with soap and water as it is available before and after mealtimes. Sanitizer will be used in place of soap and water where it is unavailable.
  • Staff will coach students on appropriate respiratory etiquette: sneezing and coughing into a tissue or an elbow and using appropriate hand hygiene after.

COHORTING and PHYSICAL DISTANCING

  • Cohorts have been redefined as two groups of students for day programs (please see above in MAINTAINING a HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT for more details).
  • We are still practicing social distancing between students and between students and their instructors, regardless of vaccination status.

FACE MASKS and FACE COVERINGS

  • When Lane County’s risk is low, which it is as of this publishing, we will not be requiring masks to be worn for the majority of our camp day. The following are times when masks will still be required:
    • At pick up and drop off. All students and their families, as well as our staff, are required to wear masks during these times as social distancing is difficult to maintain.
    • Students and staff will wear a mask at the beginning of their camp day on Monday until group guidelines and safety protocols are discussed. They can then remove their masks once their instructor indicates this section has been completed.
    • Students and staff do not need to wear masks while sitting for an activity, break, or meal. Masks must be worn at all times when they are using the bathroom and whenever they are entering the pavilion at Mount Pisgah Arboretum.
    • Students and staff should have their face mask easily accessible at all times to be prepared for situations that may temporarily require masks, such as activities requiring sustained close contact.
    • Any camper choosing to wear a mask more often than these requirements will be supported in doing so. 

Additional Overnight Camp Operations

OREGON HEALTH AUTHORITY (OHA) GUIDANCE

  • Encourages those who are unvaccinated and able to get a COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Encourages unvaccinated camp staff, campers and their families to “quarantine” for the 14 days prior to arrival at camp through the following steps: physical distancing and wearing a mask when not at home, avoiding unnecessary travel, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of their households.
  • Encourages staff and campers who are not fully vaccinated obtain a COVID viral test not more than 3 days before they arrive at camp. A PCR test is preferred; however, an antigen test is acceptable. 
  • Encourages campers and staff who are not fully vaccinated to get a viral COVID-19 test within 5 days of returning home, and to “self-quarantine” for 7 days through the following steps: physical distancing and wearing a mask when not at home, avoiding unnecessary travel, and refraining from indoor social gatherings with people outside of their households.

ADDITIONAL OVERNIGHT SAFETY:

In addition to the OHA suggestions, we are enacting the following at our overnight camps to do our best to keep campers safe. These procedures have been modified from the existing CDC Guidance for Overnight Camps as we considered the new OHA guidelines:

SLEEPING IN TENTS/YURTS

  • Maximize ventilation by opening all vents and screens possible.
  • Space beds as far apart as possible. Where space is limited, alternate which campers sleep head to the wall versus feet to the wall to create more distance between their heads, ideally about 6’.
  • Campers who sleep in the same structure are considered a “household cohort” (hereafter called cabin cohort) (see CDC Guidance Section 4b)
    • Campers do not need to wear masks when within their own lodging as they are a cabin cohort. However, they should still attempt to maintain physical distancing where possible (for example, sitting on their own bed and not sitting together, or wearing face masks if they choose to do so).
    • Campers from a different cabin cohort should NOT enter another cohort’s lodging. When staff (who interact with multiple cohorts) or other youth enter the lodging, everyone should put face masks on.
    • Ideally, cabin cohorts would also be the cohorts to eat together.
    • Regular supervision of lodging will be provided to ensure these guidelines are being adhered to.

MEALTIMES

  • Will be held outside and campers will wash their hands before and after eating. 
  • Campers will be socially distanced.

BATHROOMS/SHOWERS

  • The number of campers in the bathroom at one time will be limited, and ample ventilation will be followed. There will be detailed cleaning of the bathrooms in between cabin cohorts.