Tour operators, teachers, and group leaders should review specific processes and guidelines for traveling during a pandemic, especially those provided by official resources including local health departments and school boards. It’s also highly recommended they review the standard practices for when a student becomes ill on the road and sharing that information with parents in advance of the trip.

Here, we offer general information on COVID-19. Because the situation is changing daily, this information should not be considered all-inclusive; rather, it’s a snapshot of what we know at the time of this guide.

REVIEW AND MODEL BASIC HYGIENE AND HEALTHY LIFESTYLE PRACTICES FOR PROTECTION WHILE TRAVELING.

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds, multiple times a day.
  • Utilize alcohol-based hand cleansers when arriving at and departing locations.
  • Frequently wipe surfaces, including cellphones, keys and other personal objects, with cleansers.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue when you sneeze or cough and throw away the tissue immediately, or sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow.
  • Do not share food or drinks.
  • Maintain social distancing in public places.
  • Give first or elbow bumps instead of handshakes or touching each other.
  • Add any additional guidance from your school.

KNOW THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes COVID-19 symptoms appear in a few days after being exposed to someone with the disease or as long as 14 days after exposure. For some people, the symptoms are like having a cold; for others, they are quite severe or even life-threatening. Among these symptoms are:

  • 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
  • Diarrhea

SHOULD A STUDENT BECOME ILL ON THE TRIP

The teacher leader, with the support of the tour operator/director or guide, will implement the appropriate crisis management plan based on the severity of the illness.

IF THE STUDENT SHOWS SIGNS OF HAVING A FEVER OR COLD

The student should be separated from the group with a teacher or chaperone until the proper medical treatment may be determined. One of the teachers or chaperones should confirm the student’s parents or guardian have been notified and gave their permission to take the student to a medical facility. The teachers/chaperones should designate who will stay with the student at the medical facility during treatment, not expected to be overnight. The group will most likely continue with the planned itinerary while the student receives treatment. It’s important to communicate the situation with the other students to avoid any stigma or isolation of the ill student. Once treatment has concluded, provide details to the teacher/chaperone on how and when they and the student can reunite with the tour group.

If a student needs to miss an activity due to illness or injury, one teacher or chaperone must stay behind to address the student’s needs.

IF IT’S AN EMERGENCY:

The teachers/chaperones will contact emergency medical services (EMS) to start medical transport, then contact the parents. The teacher/chaperone should stay with the student throughout the experience. It’s important to call the parents on a regular basis with updates from the doctor and to allow the student to talk with the parents. Every two hours is a good guide, unless other timing has been determined for communication with the parents. The teacher and parents will determine if the student will return home. The tour operator will help facilitate the return of the student with the parents. The parents are responsible for the cost of the medical treatment and travel expenses home.

Travel safety and risk management resources are available at SYTA.org in the Safety Resource Center, under Why Travel Matters.

For more information pertinent to educators during this pandemic, see the SYTA COVID-19: Educator Resource Guide for Student Group Travel.

Courtesy of SYTA.