Travel Advisory


Updated March 25, 2020

To Our Students, Families, Program Partners and the Outward Bound Community,

Outward Bound USA shares your concern over COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, and its impact on our students, families and communities. Our priority continues to be the health and well-being of our students and staff.

Outward Bound USA is working in coordination with all 11 Outward Bound Schools across the U.S. as well as industry peers and state and national health authorities. Together, we continue to monitor and assess the evolving situation and take appropriate action regarding Outward Bound programs in and originating from the United States.

Course/Program Information for Parents, Students, Partners and Clients:

All international and domestic programs offered by Outward Bound in the United States will be suspended through May 31st. Outward Bound USA is committed to reducing the rate of ‘community spread’ and its emerging systemic impact on public health. While the landscape is changing daily, we remain hopeful that some, if not many summer courses will run. Check back periodically for updates as we continue to re-evaluate.

If you are concerned about the possibility of future cancellations due to potential COVID-19 related travel restrictions or a COVID-19 illness personally impacting your family, please know that we have updated our cancellation policy. We’ll be happy to explain it; please contact us at 866-467-7651.

Information for Staff and Supporters:

Outward Bound is a community, and our community gatherings and events are also impacted. On March 12th, Outward Bound USA recommended to our Schools and supporters that gatherings and events of over 50 people should be canceled or postponed for at least a month. This recommendation includes all Staff, Alumni, and Fundraising events, and is in alignment with CDC guidance.

In our workplaces, we seek to limit the potential of transmission by re-emphasizing hygiene practices, following CDC guidance, and encouraging social distancing. We are scaling down or eliminating in-person meetings and non-essential travel in favor of online or teleconference meetings. We are asking employees showing flu-like symptoms to work from home. And, in several regions, we are taking the lead from local governments and school districts and proactively encouraging all employees to work from home.

COVID-19 is an emerging issue and unlike anything, most of us have seen in our lifetimes. We will continue to monitor the situation and take proactive steps in support of the national effort to slow the spread of this disease and to reduce the risk of significant impacts to our students, our staff and our communities.

For reliable information on the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the resources below:

The Outward Bound Community is resilient. We will continue to tap into our values, our strengths and lean on one another, with compassion, in the coming weeks and months. We will face this challenge, like those we equip our students to face in life, with an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion. We are incredibly grateful for your understanding and support.

Please check back to this page for updates. 


Whitney Montgomery

Executive Director 

North Carolina Outward Bound School 

For more information on Outward Bound and COVID-19, please visit our FAQ page.


March 12, 2020

NCOBS Program Response

The purpose of this document is limited to providing specific instructions for managing staff and students who display symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus: cough, respiratory issues, fever, malaise/fatigue, etc. and for reducing the likelihood of transmission of viral disease.

The information available about the COVID-19 virus, including the number and location of people infected, the rate of transmission, and the severity (including mortality rate) associated with the virus is changing rapidly, and as the situation evolves, program response may also evolve. As such, program response at this stage should focus primarily on those practices that generally help prevent the spread of flu, colds, and other respiratory illnesses (including COVID-19).

All Locations

Staff should be actively encouraged to follow excellent hygiene practices, including regular high-quality hand washing (especially after coughing or sneezing), avoid touching of the eyes and face, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue (or the crook of the arm if a tissue is not available). Each location should make a plan to regularly disinfect surfaces handled by multiple people, including doorknobs, shared phones and computer equipment, and bathroom and kitchen counters.

Administrative/Office Staff: Town Office Staff, Staff who commute daily to work at another NCOBS location

Staff who have current or emerging symptoms of respiratory virus (persistent cough, shortness of breath and/or fever) should not continue working and should stay home, return home, or be isolated (see more below on isolation). Staff who present with cold/flu symptoms and who are not in any other high-risk category based on their travel or contact histories should take ordinary precautions to avoid getting others sick, and then return to work after being symptom free for 24 hours without the aid of symptom reducing medications.

Course Start Health Check

Medical screeners and admissions staff will be striving to prevent anyone with current/emerging symptoms of respiratory virus from arriving to course start. As part of the routine course start health check, students should be asked specifically about fever, cough and shortness of breath as well as recent travel profiles to determine possible exposure to COVID-19. Any significant findings should be reported to the Course Director or base Program Administrator. The CD should consult with the Safety Director or Director of Wilderness Operations to determine next steps.

Adjustments to Teaching Curriculum

All NCOBS courses include self-care and hygiene on the curriculum, and the presence of a pandemic requires a strengthening of in-field practices as well as fact-based education about risk and infectious disease.

Incorporate hygiene into course activities, routines, and structures.

  • Include effective hand washing in the self-care curriculum, using soap and water, whenever water is available. In addition to teaching the 20 second rule, demonstrate cleaning all surfaces of hands, including nail beds and fingertips.
  • Include respiratory hygiene, including coughing and sneezing into a crooked arm.
  • Make a hand washing station a central part of camp and supervise students’ use of it at all appropriate times: after relieving themselves, before eating or preparing food, after sneezing or coughing into their hands or touching their faces.
  • Prohibit and prevent the sharing of water bottles, lip balm, towels, bandannas, utensils, etc.

Health Monitoring and Documentation on Course

The findings of the course start health check should be documented on the student health log. If cold/flu symptoms appear during the course, staff should isolate the individual, document signs and symptoms, and report to the Course Director or base Program Administrator. The CD should consult with the Safety Director or Director of Wilderness Operations to determine next steps.

Evacuations from the Field

Anyone with respiratory illness symptoms should be isolated from the rest of the crew as much as practical: Use of solo tarps/tents, no physical contact or close proximity to others (approximately 6 feet), use of mask for patients and caregivers. Proper hygiene practices should be re-emphasized for the entire crew. Anyone with severe symptoms (e.g., fever above 102, inability to participate in course due to fatigue), a travel history suggesting they are at risk for COVID-19, or symptoms that create a high likelihood of spreading illness (consistent coughing and/or sneezing) should be evacuated. Evacuated staff should return to base or home until symptom-free for 24+ hours. Evacuated students should be sent home. Ill staff and students should only be taken to a medical facility if the severity of the symptoms warrants additional medical care, if requested by parents/guardians, or if they meet the guidelines above for evacuation to medical care for COVID-19 testing.

Isolation for Ill Staff Living on Bases

Staff with respiratory illness symptoms should not work until they are symptom free for at least 24 hours. Ill staff living on base should avoid common areas as much as possible and should wear masks whenever they are in common areas or around other people.

Ill staff should not share a bedroom with healthy staff, so temporary housing rearrangements may be necessary. Label rooms with ill staff clearly to alert others. Base should help to make sure ill staff have access to tissues, hygiene supplies (hand sanitizer, showering and hand washing facilities, etc.), and medication to treat symptoms. A caregiver utilizing PPE (gloves and mask) should routinely check on ill staff to check on their condition and help them meet their needs (bring food, medication, and hygiene supplies) without the ill person entering communal spaces.

Cleaning and Disinfecting after Evacuation and/or Isolation

  • Ventilate the room, vehicle, or tent and wait 24 hours before cleaning, if possible, to minimize the exposure of the person doing the cleaning.
  • Cleaning staff should have and be trained to use PPE such as disposable gloves, eye protection and, if available, gowns. Hands should be washed as soon as gloves are removed.
  • Equipment or surfaces that are visibly dirty should be cleaned with soap and water before disinfecting with chemical cleaner such as a bleach solution (4 tsp per quart, or 20 ml per liter) or an EPA-approved viral pathogen product.
  • Launder clothes, sleeping bags or linens using the warmest water setting recommended for the item and dry them completely. Items belonging to sick people need to be handled with PPE up until laundering but not afterward and do not need to be laundered separately from healthy people’s items.

Stigma and Resilience

Stressful times bring out the best and worst in people, and physical isolation can easily lead to social isolation. Be watchful for and actively curtail behavior that is hurtful or discriminatory toward people of Asian descent, people who have traveled, or people who have cared for the sick. Help maintain the resilience of our community.

  • Raise awareness about COVID-19 without increasing fear.
  • Share accurate information about how the virus spreads.
  • Quickly communicate the risk or lack of risk from associations with products, people, and places.
  • Maintain privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare and those who may be part of any contact investigation.
  • Speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements about groups of people, or exclusion of people who pose no risk from regular activities.
  • Thank healthcare workers, responders and caregivers who have performed a valuable service to everyone by helping limit the spread of this disease.
  • Share the need for social support for people who are worried about friends or relatives in affected regions.

Evacuation to Medical Care & COVID-19 Testing

Because of the limited testing of COVID-19 currently available and the risk of overwhelming medical facilities with non-urgent illnesses, at this stage it is NOT recommended that staff or students with respiratory illness symptoms be directed to medical facilities unless the severity of the symptoms warrant it OR if the person becomes ill and:

  1. In the past 14 days they been to affected areas (currently as of 3/10 China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea) or been exposed to someone who has traveled to those locations.
  2. They have been in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or currently under surveillance for it.
  3. They have been hospitalized within the past 30 days due to lung infection with no clear diagnosis or source identified.

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