Health and Safety

Health and safety practices


Your Expedition Starts Now. The moment you decide to go Outward Bound you’re tasked with responsibilities that impact not only yourself, but also your crew. This includes taking the necessary precautions to mitigate risks, including those associated with COVID-19. 

Outward Bound is actively monitoring COVID-19 throughout our program areas, and the guidance issued from the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health authorities. The wellbeing, health and safety of our students and staff is a top priority, and Outward Bound Schools are working diligently with local public health authorities and medical advisors to maintain recommended mitigation controls and procedures in alignment with current data and science. The risk of contracting COVID-19 prior to or while participating in an Outward Bound program can be reduced but not eliminated. As with all aspects of your Outward Bound course, our staff will teach you what you need to know to be active in mitigating risks.

HIOBS reserves the right to request any student to undergo COVID-19 testing (antigen or molecular) if they become symptomatic or have been deemed a close contact to an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19. While adults and guardians of minor students have the right to refuse testing, understand that refusal will result in that student’s dismissal from course. Students on semester-length courses who test positive for COVID-19 will follow isolation and re-testing guidelines and may be able to rejoin the course.
If you have any questions about required test kits or COVID protocols, please be in touch with your Course Advisor or email [email protected], and we'll be in touch!



For all open enrollment courses beginning prior to April 15th, 2023, Outward Bound is requiring that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 and up to date as defined by the CDC prior to arriving to their course start.

For all open enrollment courses beginning on or after April 15, 2023, HIOBS will no longer require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. However, Outward Bound strongly recommends that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 and up to date as defined by the CDC prior to arriving to their course start.


COVID-19 test kits are required for all HIOBS students. Students are required to bring two COVID-19 at-home test kits (four tests total) to their course. Kits are widely available at pharmacies and are covered by most health insurance policies for up to eight test kits per month.  Students on semester-length courses will need to bring four test kits (eight tests total). Contact your health insurance company as they may have a reimbursement program for test kit purchases.

  • Required Test Kit: Abbott BinaxNow (2 boxes, 4 tests; for semester-length courses - 4 boxes, 8 tests) is the required test kit. Sample-taking and testing is simplest for back-country use, and its packaging has held up to the rigors of our courses. However, if for some reason you cannot obtain Abbott BinaxNow, Quick Vue At-Home (2 boxes, 4 tests; for semester-length courses - 4 boxes, 8 tests) can be brought.
  • Why do I have to bring my own test kits? Testing is the most effective way to keep your course safe, and every student has a responsibility to support a safe course environment. Test kits serve the same function as a student’s personal medication and are the student’s responsibility to bring. 
  • Why two kits (4 total tests)? We test students on Days 1, 3, and 5 of course. Three tests are required, and the fourth is a backup.



Regardless of vaccination status, all students should adhere to the following health practices prior to course start:
  • From 72 hours before the course until the course start, participants are to be COVID-19 symptom-free. You must contact your Course Advisor immediately if you have symptoms.
  • We highly recommend that ALL students take a rapid COVID-19 test (antigen or PCR) 24 hours prior to traveling to course start to ensure you are not COVID-19 positive. If a positive result is received, contact your Course Advisor immediately. We recommend purchasing Tuition Protection Plan, as a positive COVID-19 test upon arrival at your course will, in most cases, result in a removal from course and forfeiture of your tuition.
  • If you are traveling internationally or entering the US within two weeks of your course start, be sure to follow the guidelines outlined by the CDC: U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents, and Immigrants: Travel to and from the United States
  • If a participant has had a positive test result for COVID-19 within 90 days of the first day of their course, the student must contact their course Advisor.


All participants should follow the CDC's best practices for limiting exposure to COVID-19 and protecting themselves and others for 10 days prior to the course start date. 


We highly recommend the use of an N95 or KN95 (with NIOSH certification) during commercial travel or anywhere you will be in contact with the general public.

Please reference the CDC recommendations for Protecting Yourself When Using Transportation and Considerations for Travelers.

Please refer to What to Do If You Are Sick for more information on what the CDC recommends in case of having to leave course early due to COVID.



  • Testing on overnight expedition courses will occur on Days 1, 3, and 5.
  • Students who test positive on Day 1 will be sent home (except Semester-length courses; see below).
  • Any participant exhibiting any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 illness at any time on course will be tested.
  • In the event of a positive test result after Day 1, every COVID-19 case will be treated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the length of course and student health.
  • Students on semester-length courses who test positive for COVID-19 will follow isolation and re-testing guidelines and may be able to rejoin the course.
  • If a student remains on course, they will:
    • Wear a KN95 mask when around others.
    • Sleep in individual shelters (when possible).
    • Use a separate (designated) bathroom if on base or at a campsite that has public privies.
    • Monitor symptoms for increasing health risks (i.e. trouble breathing).
    • Isolate for 5 days (depending on one’s health and the day of the course, isolation may occur in the field or in basecamp.



All HIOBS instructional and support staff will test on Day 1 of course preparation and follow the same rules and protocols as students.

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