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COVID-19 - We're in this together

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of our communities, creating new and shifting policies that impact the way we gather and travel. The nature of our work, our play, and our forms of communication have changed, and we're changing with it.   

 

EPI continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and adapt its policies and procedures so that–when you're ready to travel again–you can do so with the safety, flexibility, and information you need. EPI's policies are informed by CDC guidance and are periodically updated as this guidance and public health situations change. Please return to this page regularly as your course date draws near to keep up to date on the policies unique to your program location.

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Enhanced Risk Management

The safety of EPI's participants is its top priority, and we have adapted additional procedures to assess and minimize the risks associated with COVID-19. These practices address risk management in three critical phases.

EPI minimizes the risk of COVID-19 before the course begins by:

  • Establishing clear criteria for program cancellation due to elevated COVID outbreaks

  • Requesting all participants abide by precautionary measures such as physical distancing and use of face coverings during the 14 days prior to course

  • Requiring all participants to submit negative COVID-19 test result or proof of immunity 

  • Prohibiting participants with COVID-19 symptoms, or those with close to contact with those experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms, from participating in the program


​EPI reduces the risk during the program by:

  • Conducting daily health screenings

  • Requiring physical distancing and the use of face coverings

  • Conducting the majority of the program in outdoor settings

  • Limiting group sizes and taking numerous, other precautionary measures


EPI will respond to any COVID 19 related on-course incident by:

  • Following strict Personal Protection protocols during first aid and care

  • Isolating the participant from the rest of the group

  • Activating its Emergency Response System and securing testing following the directions of local health services

  • Create quarantine conditions as necessary

For more a more detailed review of EPI's Risk Management protocols for COVID-19, please see our Policies & Logistics.

Mask Use

Following CDC guidance and the Biden Administration's Executive Order on Travel Safety issued on January 21st, participants must wear masks when using public transportation, in airport, and on airplanes. This federal requirement is in addition to EPI's requirement that participants wear masks on course. Please see Policies & Logistics for more details.

Travel to Programs

Participants are expected to take precautionary measure to avoid exposure to COVID-19 before travel. EPI also requires all participants to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the course start date OR proof of immunity. Proof of immunity can be in the form of a record of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis followed by a recovery period or a COVID-19 vaccination record. 

Vaccinations

EPI does not require vaccination for its programs, but we do strongly recommend vaccination as a means to protect not only yourself, but also your fellow travelers and the people you interact with on course. Additionally, vaccination significantly reduces the likelihood that you will test positive during your travel, which can result in lengthy and expensive quarantines.

Governments in some program areas require vaccination. Please see country-specific travel requirements below. 

Pre Course Participant Expectations

Two weeks to 5 days prior to your course start date


The two-week window prior to the start of a course is an important time to take extra precautions to protect the health and course experiences for yourself and others. If you test positive for COVID-19 or you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 within two weeks to five days prior to your course, we require you to submit proof of a negative test result taken at least 5 days after exposure, regardless of your vaccination status.




Within 5 days of your course start date


Participants should not attend the course if, within the 5 days prior to the start date of the course or program, any of the following is true:

  • You receive a positive COVID-19 diagnosis or are a close contact of someone who received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, regardless of your vaccination status
  • You experience COVID-19 like symptoms (including fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea) or you are a close contact of an individual experiencing symptoms
  • You have been asked to or meet criteria for quarantine or isolation due to COVID-19 test results, exposure, symptoms, or travel history to countries or regions with COVID-19 related travel restrictions




Pre Course Test Requirements


Pre course tests must satisfy testing requirements in place for entry into the United States.

  • Tests must be viral tests
  • Home or self tests must be FDA approved and supervised via an approved telehealth service
  • More info can be found here
*Note: Pre-travel PCR tests are required for entry into Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. See program specific information for Galapagos courses.





Costa Rica Travel Requirements

Vaccines & Testing


Proof of Vaccination
Beginning January 8, 2022, the government of Costa Rica is requiring that all hotels, restaurants, bars, casinos, shops, museums, art and dance academies, gymnasiums, resorts, and adventure tourism may admit only persons who are verifiably fully-vaccinated (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Janssen). This must be verified by a QR code or a printed vaccination certificate. Please read the full entry requirements here.
How does this impact EPI’s Costa Rica Program? The Costa Rican travel mandate requires that participants in our Costa Rica program must be fully vaccinated in order to stay at EPI’s lodging facility, participate in course activities, or enter most public establishments. There may be exceptions for students who have a medical condition that makes it impossible to receive any vaccine approved by the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica. It is the student’s responsibility to receive this exemption from Costa Rica’s Ministry of Health.




Insurance


EPI requires proof of medical insurance for travel on its programs. Unvaccinated adult visitors traveling to Costa Rica will need to provide proof of a medical insurance policy to cover any COVID-19 related medical treatment or quarantine lodging while in Costa Rica.




Health Forms


  • All visitors must also complete an online Health Pass (pasa de Salud) 48 hours prior to travel to Costa Rica
  • The Health Pass can be found at https://salud.go.cr
  • For minor participants, this should be filled out by parents / legal guardian




What happens if I or someone in my group tests positive for COVID-19 during a Costa Rica course?


  • While we practice transmission prevention methods on course, the nature of our travel, activities, and groups will likely result that the entire group would be considered a "close contact" and be required to isolate in mandatory quarantine for at least 8 days until the local health ministry provides clearance to travel.
  • In this case, EPI would continue to facilitate logistics, monitor the health and well-being, and support the group until they are able to return home. Costs associated with quarantine and extended stay would be passed on to participants, which is why we recommend travel insurance that covers the costs of quarantine and medical care from COVID-19 exposure.





Galapagos Travel Requirements

Vaccines & Testing


For entry into the Galapagos, travelers ages 15 and under must provide proof of a negative COVID PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival to the Galapagos.

For entry into the Galapagos, travelers ages 16 and older must provide the following:

  • Proof of a negative COVID PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival to the Galapagos.

  • Proof of full vaccination completed at least 14 days prior to arrival in the Galapagos.

​​​​​​​Regardless of whether a negative PCR test is provided, random rapid antigen testing may be conducted at the airport and upon arrival. The testing will be administered by the Ministry of Health. If the rapid antigen test is positive, the traveler must isolate for 10 days.


Please refer to the full requirements from the Galapagos Ministry of Tourism for more information.




Insurance


  • EPI requires proof of medical insurance for travel on its programs and participants should be prepared to present this proof of insurance upon entry to Ecuador.




Health Forms


A Travel Health Declaration Form is provided for completion upon arrival to Ecuador.




What happens if I or someone in my group tests positive for COVID-19 during a Galapagos course?


  • While we practice transmission prevention methods on course, the nature of our travel, activities, and groups will likely result that the entire group would be considered a "close contact" and be required to isolate in mandatory quarantine for at least 8 days until the local health ministry provides clearance to travel.
  • In this case, EPI would continue to facilitate logistics, monitor the health and well-being, and support the group until they are able to return home. Costs associated with quarantine and extended stay would be passed on to participants, which is why we recommend travel insurance that covers the costs of quarantine and medical care from COVID-19 exposure.





Hawaii Travel Requirements

Vaccines & Testing


EPI requires participants originating outside of the region to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the course start date OR proof of immunity. Proof of immunity can be in the form of a record of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis followed by a recovery period of two weeks to three months prior to travel or a COVID-19 vaccination record.




Insurance


EPI requires proof of medical insurance for travel on its programs, but there are no additional requirements for entry into Mexico.




Health Forms


EPI requires a medical history form for travel on all of its programs, but no additional forms are required for entry into Mexico.




What happens if I or someone in my group tests positive for COVID-19 during a Mexico course?


While we practice transmission prevention methods on course, the nature of our travel, activities, and groups will likely result that the entire group would be considered a "close contact" and be required to isolate in mandatory quarantine for at least 8 days until the local health ministry provides clearance to travel. In this case, EPI would continue to facilitate logistics, monitor the health and well-being, and support the group until they are able to return home. Costs associated with quarantine and extended stay would be passed on to participants, which is why we recommend travel insurance that covers the costs of quarantine and medical care from COVID-19 exposure.





Mexico Travel Requirements

Vaccines & Testing


EPI requires participants originating outside of the region to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the course start date OR proof of immunity. Proof of immunity can be in the form of a record of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis followed by a recovery period of two weeks to three months prior to travel or a COVID-19 vaccination record.




Insurance


EPI requires proof of medical insurance for travel on its programs, but there are no additional requirements for entry into Mexico.




Health Forms


EPI requires a medical history form for travel on all of its programs, but no additional forms are required for entry into Mexico.




What happens if I or someone in my group tests positive for COVID-19 during a Mexico course?


While we practice transmission prevention methods on course, the nature of our travel, activities, and groups will likely result that the entire group would be considered a "close contact" and be required to isolate in mandatory quarantine for at least 8 days until the local health ministry provides clearance to travel. In this case, EPI would continue to facilitate logistics, monitor the health and well-being, and support the group until they are able to return home. Costs associated with quarantine and extended stay would be passed on to participants, which is why we recommend travel insurance that covers the costs of quarantine and medical care from COVID-19 exposure.





Yellowstone Travel Requirements

What happens if I or someone in my group tests positive for COVID-19 during a Yellowstone course?


  • While we practice transmission prevention methods on course, the nature of our travel, activities, and groups will likely result that the entire group would be considered a "close contact" and be required to isolate in mandatory quarantine for at least 8 days until the local health ministry provides clearance to travel.
  • In this case, EPI would continue to facilitate logistics, monitor the health and well-being, and support the group until they are able to return home. Costs associated with quarantine and extended stay would be passed on to participants, which is why we recommend travel insurance that covers the costs of quarantine and medical care from COVID-19 exposure.




Vaccines & Testing


EPI requires participants originating outside of the region to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the course start date OR proof of immunity. Proof of immunity can be in the form of a record of a positive COVID-19 diagnosis followed by a recovery period of two weeks to three months prior to travel or a COVID-19 vaccination record.




Insurance


EPI requires proof of medical insurance for travel on its programs, but there are no additional requirements for entry in the Greater Yellowstone area.




Health Forms


EPI requires a medical history form for travel on all of its programs, but no additional forms are required for entry in the Greater Yellowstone area.





Return Travel to the U.S.

Testing


Per the CDC, all international travelers will need to get a COVID-19 viral test (regardless of vaccination status) before you travel by air into the United States. You must show your negative result to the airline before you board your flight.

Fully vaccinated: The viral test must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 3 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country if you show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Not fully vaccinated: The viral test must be conducted on a sample taken no more than 1 day before the flight’s departure from a foreign country if you do not show proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may instead travel with documentation of recovery from COVID-19 (i.e., your positive COVID-19 viral test result on a sample taken no more than 90 days before the flight’s departure from a foreign country and a letter from a licensed healthcare provider or a public health official stating that you were cleared to travel).

EPI will facilitate this testing for groups as part of the regular itinerary. A positive result from a single participant may affect the travel for the entire group of participants, in addition to the potential negative health risks to the individual with the virus. For this reason, and for the well-being of all participants, we ask every participant to be prepared to strictly adhere to our COVID-19 prevention practices on course.




Self-isolation / Quarantine post travel


The Biden Administration's Executive Order on Travel Safety issued on Jan 21, also directs travelers to comply with CDC guidance on self-isolation or quarantine post travel. Current guidance from the CDC is for a regime of isolation and testing, or isolation for 10 days.





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Do you have additional questions or concerns?