Our priority continues to be the health and well-being of our students and staff. We are basing programmatic decisions and protocols on CDC guidance along with the specifics of operating outdoor activities in wilderness environments. These Program Protocols and course activities are subject to change. Please check this page for updates. Updated 3/31/2022



COVID-19 Vaccination & Booster Requirement  

Starting April 1, 2022, all participants on Classic Courses are required to be up to date on their vaccination against COVID-19 per CDC guidelines. Up to date means you have received all recommended COVID-19 vaccines, including any booster dose(s) when eligible. Getting recommended boosters is essential to maintaining the same level of protection that was provided by the primary series of vaccination – without boosters, protections for each person AND the community decreases over time.   

Participants are required to submit their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card with booster documentation included if eligible within 30 days of date of eligibility, or by 3 days prior to course start, whichever date comes first.


  • Participants eligible for a booster 7 days or less prior to course start or those who become eligible for a booster during course may submit their COVID-19 Vaccination Record card confirming fully vaccinated status by 3 days prior to course start. Pre-course PCR test not required.
  • Participants eligible for a booster but who have recently had COVID should wait until they have met CDC guidelines for ending isolation before getting a booster and have up to 90 days from the date of COVID symptoms or a positive test (whichever is earliest) before NCOBS up to date vaccination requirements will apply.

When to get boosted? 

Reference the CDC guidelines on staying up to date with your vaccines.

  • Those who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines are eligible to receive a booster of Pfizer or Moderna* 5 months after their final shot was administered. *For 12–17-year-olds, only the Pfizer vaccine is currently authorized.  
  • Those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a Pfizer or Moderna booster 2 months after their final shot was administered.  

Accepted Vaccines  

  • If you are located in the United States, we 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 located outside of the United States, we 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.  

NCOBS strongly recommends participants take a viral COVID-19 test prior to traveling to course to avoid traveling while infectious and to avoid being turned away at course start (all participants will be given an antigen quick test at course start and those who test positive will not be allowed on course**). NCOBS recommends testing within 5 days of course if using a lab-processed molecular test or 24 hours or less prior to course for an antigen or PCR quick-test. 

COVID-19 Symptoms 

Participants are to be COVID-19 symptom-free 72-hours prior to course start. Symptoms include fever over 100.3°F, cough, shortness of breath, body aches, and fatigue. Some people may have chills, headaches, sore throat or lose their sense of smell or taste. 

If You Have Had COVID-19 Within the Past 3 Months

Participants who have had a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis within 3 months of course start date may continue to test positive after recovery. If you have had COVID-19 within 3 months of course start and are still testing positive for COVID-19, you must submit the following: 

  • Positive viral test result with test date between 14 days – 3 months prior to course start AND 
  • Documentation from a physician confirming the participant is not considered infectious on the course start date and that the participant is released for all course activities OR 
  • Documentation from the Health Department confirming the date that the participant can exit isolation. 

Refer to the "During Course" Section below to review masking and physical distancing expectations while on course.

COVID-19 Statement of Understanding 

Participants (and parents of minor students) will sign a COVID-19 Statement of Understanding. 

Calling Course a "GO"  

We will make every effort to confirm the course at 30-days before course start. Participant status and/or course status may change at any time due to COVID-19.

Travel & Backup Travel Plan

Participants on Open Enrollment courses may travel to/from course by personal vehicle or commercial transportation; however, personal vehicle travel is strongly encouraged.

To reduce the likelihood of participants testing positive upon arrival to Outward Bound, we highly encourage participants to take a rapid COVID-19 antigen test 24-hours or less prior to traveling to Outward Bound. Participants who test positive should not travel and will not be accepted onto course. 

Participants will take an NCOBS-administered rapid antigen COVID-19 test on course start day upon arrival. Participants testing positive, as well as any close contacts, will not be accepted on course

If you intend to travel by commercial transportation, you must submit a back-up travel plan should you need to travel home under quarantine or isolation protocols. Plan must NOT include commercial travel.

Back-Up Travel Plan Options

YOUTH (Course Age Ranges 14-18) must depart from the airport at course start or from the Outward Bound program location during course by private vehicle, providing name and contact information of pick-up person. Once course is in progress, if you must depart course early due to COVID-19, your plan must allow for departure within 48 hours. 

ADULT (Course age ranges 18+, 18-25, 30+) must either:

  • Preferred - Arrange your own transportation home such as your personal vehicle, car rental, or by providing name and contact information of pick-up person


  • Outward Bound will provide transportation to a hotel near the airport, provided the participant meets the hotel’s age requirement for check-in.

Hotel options include:  

Once course is in progress, if you must depart course early due to COVID-19, your plan must allow for departure within 48 hours. 

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



  • Participants will be screened upon arrival for COVID-19 symptoms and contact history, including taking temperature. If any signs or symptoms of illness exist, participants will not be allowed to start the course. 
  • Participants will take an antigen COVID-19 test on course start day. This will involve swabbing the nasal cavity (nasal mid-turbinate swab) – a simple and pain-free procedure. North Carolina Outward Bound School Staff will administer this test.
  • On courses 9 days or longer, participants will take an additional COVID-19 test on day 6 of course. North Carolina Outward Bound School Staff will administer this test.



Protect Yourself and Others from COVID-19   

Please refer to CDC Guidelines on physical distancing best practices. 

Mask Wearing Protocol 
Updated 3/31/2021

Our nation is experiencing an overall decrease in new cases of COVID-19. With this favorable trend, The North Carolina Outward Bound School remains vigilant regarding the emergence of future COVID-19 variants and may adjust masking protocol if conditions warrant. 

Effective April 1, 2022, masks will not be required in outdoor settings where only the crew* and their instructors are present.

Masks will only be required in the following situations:

  • On day 1 of course until Outward Bound all participants test negative on our day 1 COVID-19 antigen test
  • While in Outward Bound vehicles
  • When within 6 feet of Outward Bound staff or members of the public who are not a part of the crew

*A “crew” is defined as the group of 8-12 Outward Bound participants who are on expedition together.

Additional Measures
  • Enhanced personal hygiene will be practiced on every course.
  • Participants will learn and practice increased cleaning and sanitization protocols.



  • All staff are up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • All NCOBS employees will be tested for COVID-19 and cleared to work. 


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