Program Protocols

The Hurricane Island Outward Bound School is excited to responsibly provide programming in the age of COVID-19. Below are listed the practices we are implementing, and the required adjusted behaviors all participants and families need to be aware of. These adapted practices and requirements are designed with several goals in mind:

  • To keep participants and staff healthy,
  • To prevent the unintentional spread of communicable disease,
  • To keep our local community healthy, and
  • To allow participants to experience an Outward Bound course with the same outcomes as they would have had before the pandemic.

Please review the details below and get in touch with us if you have any questions. 


This is an evolving situation and our practices may change as we gain new information or as recommendations change, which may not be fully reflected in the details you find on this page. HIOBS will decide when and under what conditions any courses will operate using our safety protocols and best judgment. For exact information on your course, please be in touch with your Course Advisor or email [email protected] and we'll be in touch!

HIOBS reserves the right to request any student, vaccinated or unvaccinated, 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.

Check out this video from the National Safety crew, where they talk about our COVID-19 Best Practices:

  • Participants must notify their Course Advisor of any underlying health conditions that could put them at increased risk of contracting a communicable disease and check in with their physician about any additional risks.
  • HIOBS will not require a pre-course COVID test for any course activity type. You may choose to take a test for your own peace of mind before you travel.
  • If you are traveling internationally or entering the US within two weeks of your course start, be sure to follow the guidelines outlined here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel-during-covid19.html
  • If a participant has had a positive test result for COVID within 90 days of the first day of their course, we require a copy of the positive test result and a physician’s note documenting recovery. This documentation must be submitted by one week before the course starts.
  • We highly recommend all students (vaccinated and unvaccinated, even if the student does not have symptoms) do a Covid-19 antigen test 72 hours prior to course start. This can be an over-the-counter test. If a positive result is received, contact your Course Advisor immediately. We recommend purchasing Tuition Protection Plan insurance to protect your tuition in case this happens. 

  • From 72 hours prior to the course until the course start, participants are to be COVID-19 symptom-free. Symptoms include fever over 100.3°F, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, and fatigue. Some people may have chills, a headache, a sore throat, or may lose their sense of smell or taste. If any of these symptoms appear, you must contact your Course Advisor immediately. We recommend purchasing Tuition Protection Plan insurance to protect your tuition in case this happens. 


HIOBS strongly encourages ALL participants to get fully vaccinated by two weeks prior to course start. Starting September 1, 2021, all students on publicly enrolled HIOBS courses will be required to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19.  If you are currently enrolled or thinking about enrolling on a HIOBS expedition, please check in with your course advisor for the most current information on our Covid-19 protocols. 

To inform HIOBS of your vaccination status you will email a copy of the record of both shots to your course advisor as soon as possible, no later than two weeks before your course start.

Acceptable Vaccines: If you are in the United States, HIOBS will accept all the vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). As of today, the three approved vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.  If you are outside of the United States, HIOBS will accept vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) with an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). As of today, the five approved vaccines are Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, and Sinopharm. 

Protect yourself and others from COVID-19

All participants should follow the CDC's best practices for limiting exposure to COVID-19 and protecting themselves and others for 14 days prior to the course start date. 

Travel - Open Enrollment Courses

Participants on Open Enrollment courses may travel to/from their course by personal vehicle or commercial transportation. In either case, participants must comply as closely as possible with physical distancing and hygiene precautions while in transit to course start.

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

Backup Departure Plan

In the case of an early departure from your course, you must provide us with a backup departure plan that allows for departure within 24 hours.

Adult participants (18+) must either:

  • Preferred: plan to depart from the Outward Bound program location by private vehicle, providing name and contact information of pickup person.
  • Alternative: Plan to request that Outward Bound provide transportation to a hotel near the airport, provided the participant meets the hotel's age requirements for check-in.

Youth participants (12-17 years old) must plan to depart from the Outward Bound program location by a private vehicle and must provide the name and contact information of a specific pick-up person.

  1. All participants will have an antigen test upon arrival on day 1.  
  2. If any participant exhibits any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 illness at the start of the course and receives a positive result to the antigen test, a molecular (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test - NAAT) will be administered. If the molecular test affirms the positive antigen test result, the participant will be required to depart the course. Please see the above requirements for a Backup Departure Plan. 
  • For backpacking, canoeing, sea-kayaking, and rock-climbing courses, or courses that start with one of these activities and then transition to sailing, all participants will undergo antigen testing every 72-hours for the first 7 days of their course. Participants will do a molecular (Nucleic Acid Amplification Test - NAAT) prior to the group becoming a "family unit".  
  • For any courses that are sailing-only, participants will undergo antigen testing every 24-hours and will get a molecular (NAAT) test prior to the group becoming a "family unit".  
  • All non-vaccinated participants will mask when indoors and will mask outdoors when they cannot maintain 6’ of distance, until the group is deemed a "family unit".  Vaccinated participants do not need to wear a mask unless required by their instructors.  
  • All participants will practice enhanced personal hygiene. Daily health checks and logs will be kept.
  • All participants will use enhanced hygiene practices for reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19, such as frequent hand washing, sanitizing, and regular symptom checks. Participants may be asked to wear approved personal protective equipment (including a cloth face cover or mask) and must comply if requested to do so - if they are unwilling to use these practices they'll be sent home, and no refund or course credit will be offered. 
  • Increased cleaning and sanitization practices will be practiced on our bases, and during courses.
  • In the case of a participant exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms while on course, the participant will be isolated from the group and given a PCR test.  If the test results yield a positive result, the participant will be removed from the course. We recommend purchasing Tuition Protection Plan insurance to protect your tuition in case this happens. 
  • Participants must have a Back-Up Departure Plan that involves a departure from the course within 24 hours.

All HIOBS instructional and support staff will be subjected to the same protocols as students. HIOBS Base Camps have a 72-hour antigen testing schedule, applicable to all vaccinated and unvaccinated staff members. 

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