Between tiny pods of ten and unmanageable campuses of thousands is A Place Beyond.
APB is like the NBA bubble but in the middle of a national forest. Living in a small, intentional community will allow us to help keep people healthy and live a more normal life despite Covid-19. Test and trace is less complex with 60 people than with 1000 as many college campuses are discovering.
This page lays out our covid-19 protocol. Click here to read our blog post on bubble establishment.
The How and Why of the Bubble
We'll wear masks and distance until we've formed a stable bubble, and then we'll enjoy a relatively normal lifestyle on and around campus. We select our campuses to be near major hospital systems and to have access to trails, rock climbing, and lakes on and just off campus.
Our local county health authority partners review our protocols and request changes in order to marry our framework with local best practices.
We establish our bubble soon after students arrive using PCR molecular tests, the highest efficacy cleared by the FDA. Each week we test our group to make sure we're keeping a clear eye on community transmission.
After we bubble and find a normal rhythm during the first month on campus and on the trails and boulders of the surrounding national forest, we'll reassess the covid-19 risk, opening up medium risk activities (take-out, grocery shopping, third party guides) and begin testing every week to mitigate that additional risk.
Participant admission (and re-admission) to campus
Prior to heading to campus, participants will be asked to exercise a high level of caution, avoiding congested public settings. Participants will be asked to stay home if they are experiencing any symptoms associated with COVID-19.
Participants will initially arrive on campus in a staggered format, where they will be assigned a window of time to arrive. Non-essential visitors will be limited (particularly those not from the geographic region).
- Participants will spend the first 10 days wearing masks and following physical distancing guidelines. This is an average amount of time it takes for the viral load to build in a person's body, so testing on arrival would not catch whether someone had been exposed to covid-19 while traveling.
- Participants will be tested on day 4 and 10 by our private testing partners with same-day tests; those with symptoms see #3
- Participants follow physical distancing guidelines until test results return
Positive participants (provided they experience no symptoms ever) will be quarantined until:
- 10 days have passed since test
- OR they test negative on two subsequent tests within 4 days
Participants who have symptoms upon arrival or after a positive test will remain in quarantine until all of the following conditions are met:
- 3 days with no fever
- Respiratory symptoms have improved (e.g. cough, shortness of breath)
- 10 days since symptoms first appeared
After this entry period, our cohort is now treated as one stable unit. As we form as a group and monitor the covid-19 case load and transmission rate in the surrounding area, we will restrict our movements to campus and the surrounding public lands.
Participants will be asked to self-monitor symptoms throughout the semester; instructors will check in on participant observations weekly.
After we determine medium-risk activities (see below) seem reasonable or responsible, and we will facilitate testing with our provider for our whole cohort (including instructors and food staff) once per week.
In early months, eating outside is ideal and will be encouraged weather-permitting. Later or in inclement weather, APB will stagger meal times.
To avoid mass waste, we will use non-disposable food service items. These will be handled by gloved, masked personnel and then washed in a commercial dishwasher.
APB will bus participants from the airport to the site with enough buses to provide ample physical distancing in addition to requiring face masks.
Participants can drive their own cars to the site.
Once on site, APB will use 15 passenger vans to transport small groups of participants off site for trips if surrounding areas are open for non-essential movement.
If a participant chooses to leave the campus, they must sign in and out indicating his/her destination and length of time away.
When available, indoor communal spaces (for shared recreation or coursework) will be structured to allow for sufficient physical distancing of 6ft between participants. Maximum room capacities may be reduced to ensure adequate spacing is possible.
Signs and announcements will be posted in highly visible locations, regarding transmission intervention and protective measures. Free material is available on the CDC’s website. Weekly emails will be sent out to all participants with reminders and COVID-status updates of both the camp and the surrounding area.
Because of minimized risk, compared to enclosed settings, larger gatherings will be permitted in communal outdoor spaces.
All surfaces will be disinfected daily.
Beds will be re-positioned so that participants sleep at least 6ft apart from each other.
Outdoor activities will be prioritized, weather and season-permitting. Based on the geographic region, we will design a table of high-/medium-/low-risk activities which will determine actions participants must take after participating. At this time, higher-risk activities will not be allowed.
At the start of our program, we will allow only low-risk activities (e.g. bouldering or hiking in the national forest) while we monitor the trend in cases in the local community.
- Local community outbreak or renewed county or state lockdown orders:
We shelter in place at our campus, taking special care to mitigate risk from deliveries and pausing entrance to non-essential visitors.
- A participant experiences symptoms:
APB will arrange for testing for the participant on site or for safe transport for testing and/or for further medical attention. Isolation rooms are designated for participants or staff who begin to show signs/symptoms of COVID-19 or who test positive for the virus. Our best practice is for a confirmation test within 24 hours to confirm the case. If confirmed, our community will restrict travel off campus and require physical distancing and face masks on campus, and test every other day until transmission is stabilized, i.e. no further cases emerge over 10 days.
Close contacts of probable or suspected COVID-19 cases will be ascertained. Contacts will be asked to monitor symptoms for two weeks following their last close contact date, avoid communal activities, and wear a mask while indoors. We will test contacts after five days of monitoring their symptoms in addition to our weekly surveillance testing.
Staff will notify local health authorities regarding COVID-19 symptoms or positive test results.
Our site leader is our COVID-19 point person for health authorities, our partner camps, the larger organization, and our surrounding communities.
We chose 60 for our group size because many federal guidelines and state and local directives use 60 as a benchmark for group congregation which will be significant for our program. It also lowers complexity in testing and tracing compared to population numbers at a college or university.
At the end of the semester, participants will quarantine together as one collective family unit in order to go home with the confidence that they are keeping their older relatives safe.
We take COVID-19 seriously, partnering with the local health authority of each of our campuses to implement local best practices.