Industry-leading safety innovation, when it’s needed most
We know that traveling during these times takes a lot of trust, and we’re doing everything we can to earn yours. As parents and educators ourselves, we recognize the importance of the decision you are making to join us for one of our programs, and it is through that lens that we are planning and building our safety protocols.
In addition to thoroughly vetting every activity and vendor, our Back to Travel Task Force is continually evaluating and updating our protocols based on current CDC guidance and the recommendations of our Doctors on Call Team from the George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine. Led by Dr. Neal Sikka, who also serves as WorldStrides’ Medical Director, our Doctors on Call Team is an interdisciplinary group with access to George Washington University experts from public health, infectious disease, and laboratory services (testing).
Every aspect of our programs is being reviewed, from planning and prepping through execution, and at every step of the way, the health and safety of our participants is our top priority.
A team approach to our new normal
WorldStrides assembled a cross-functional team we call our Back to Travel Task Force in early Spring, and we have been working to help you travel with confidence ever since. This Task Force leverages decades of experience across our company to assess the safety of the destinations we travel, stay abreast of openings/closings, understand new protocols and regulations from our partners, and create trainings and detailed safety plans to manage the risk associated with COVID-19. The Back to Travel group, led by Chief Experience, Health and Safety Officer Terri Morgoglione, is also informed by the CDC and WHO guidelines, as well as the guidance of the team at The George Washington Department of Emergency Medicine who staff our Doctors on Call program. We are also closely monitoring the evolving standards of the education community and the travel industry, and will continue to update our plans as new information on COVID-19 comes to light.
Adaptations for health and safety
At the airport:
- Each airport, and airline, will have its own rules regarding your flight travel, and we recommend you check the website of your airport and carrier now, and at least 72 hours before departing. Temperature checks and face coverings will very likely be a requirement at the airport and on the plane.
- Some destinations may require health forms or additional testing/screening prior to arrival, including requirements based on your home state or city. We will make every effort to communicate these requirements in advance.
- WorldStrides will provide two (2) disposable face masks per day for participants in advance of the program.
- Many airport restaurants may not be open, and in-flight food service will not be available, so WorldStrides recommends packing a meal and snacks for your journey, if you are traveling by air.
- TSA will allow you to bring hand sanitizer in a container up to 12 ounces in your carry-on.
Your tour leader:
- Your group will be met by a locally-based Course Leader, who has been specially trained in specific protocols to help keep the group safe.
- The Course Leader will provide a destination-specific safety briefing to help set expectations for our time together.
- The ratio of Course Leader to participant will be adjusted to provide more support and to help be more agile in the locations we are visiting together.
On the motorcoach:
- We will work with each group and bus company to establish specific loading and unloading procedures to minimize unnecessary touching and passing. Students will be assigned a designated seat on the bus each day.
- The motorcoach will be cleaned frequently using a variety of techniques including electrostatic and anti-microbial sprayers, foggers, and steamers. All high touch surfaces will be wide down multiple times throughout the day. Air filtration system improvements promote frequent exchange of cabin air, replacing it with fresh air from the outside. Air quality is further enhanced by increasing the MERV rating on air filters and in some cases, adding UV light treatments which can kill up to 99% of all viruses.
- Other changes you might see include plexiglass or empty rows around the motorcoach drivers and drivers may be wearing masks.
- Hand sanitizer will also be available on the motorcoach.
At the hotel:
- Our check-in process will be modified to limit interaction with other guests at the hotel. This may mean private entrances, fewer people in the lobby, and fewer people in the elevator.
- We’ve worked with our hotel partners to ensure the highest standards in cleanliness in the hotels prior to your arrival, which will include disinfection of surfaces inside rooms and extra cleaning on high contact areas such as light switches, doorknobs, and TV remotes. Once the room has been expertly cleaned, hotel staff will not enter unless specifically requested.
- Hotel guests should expect limited food and beverage options inside the hotel and limited or no property amenities (e.g. pools, gyms, etc.).
- WorldStrides will offer affordable upgrades related to room occupancy. We will also work with families traveling together to encourage rooms based on family units, and limit roommate switching on programs that travel between cities.
The sites we visit:
- Our team is working closely with our contacts at museums, landmarks, and other sites we visit to define specific (and evolving) protocols for groups to make sure the experience is both safe and fun.
- Based on what we learn, we may make changes to your itinerary to make sure we have plenty of time to accommodate the new way of doing things, and also to make sure we are focusing your time on places where you have the most freedom to explore.
- We will also take plenty of breaks for washing hands.
- Many of the sites we visit will require face coverings, and have new rules for security and group management, and you should be prepared to follow the instructions of your Course Leader and staff at these locations. We recommend you bring a clear purse or backpack, or a gallon-sized ziploc bag, as some sites will not allow traditional bags.
- We will use our local knowledge and strong relationships to select restaurants that are following strict hygiene practices to keep participants safe.
- Self-serve buffets will not be used.
- Where possible, we will arrange for private or separate seating. Pre-orders may be required in some situations, particularly in situations where we will provide box or carry-out meals in order to allow the group to eat outside or in a location where additional social distancing is possible.
Our network of safety resources
In addition to the special adaptions we are making, when you travel on a WorldStrides program, you can rest assured knowing that our long-time investments in health and safety are also in place, like:
- WorldStrides On Call: Our safety and security command center is staffed 24/7 by WorldStrides employees who are specially trained to handle any situation —no matter how big or how small.
- Doctors on Call: Especially now, we are proud of our exclusive partnership with the George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Neal Sikka, who serves as WorldStrides’ Medical Director has informed our protocols and training. He and his team are just a phone call away to consult on any medical situation. We also have mental health support for any participant, just a phone call away.
- Adult Supervision: We provide adult supervision customized to the age and needs of the group, such as a 24/7 Tour Director, or Night Chaperones who watch the hallway of the hotel where the group is sleeping.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Establish and coordinate communication with the participant and the family
- Facilitate transportation for the participant to a local medical facility
- Coordinate quarantine arrangements for the participant, in consultation with local health authorities
- Provide guidance to the group to reduce the risk of additional exposure and coordinate testing
What will flying be like?
Will we need to wear masks?
Yes. WorldStrides will provide disposable masks for our participants, as well as reusable masks for our staff. Masks will be required in all enclosed spaces and when social distancing is not possible. You will need to follow any local, state, or national guidelines, and also follow any site-specific requirements for face coverings, including on the airplane and inside any cultural site or venue. For groups performing (playing musical instruments or singing), we’re actively monitoring discussions in the scientific and music education communities to develop options that are appropriate for your ensemble.
Will we get our temperature checked?
We will ask each group's leader to facilitate daily temperature checks to ensure that all participants are feeling well. There may also be temperature checks at the airport and at certain sites prior to entry.
How will our group dynamics be impacted?
We may make adjustments to reduce each individual's daily exposure to other people and allow more flexibility in meeting COVID-19-related requirements. This could include changes to keep groups from mixing if you are traveling with other schools or communities, or adjusting the size of a group. These changes will be made on a case-by-case basis and communicated in advance.
What would happen if a student has COVID-19 symptoms while on tour?
If a participant feels ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (which include fever, chills/aches, shortness of breath, coughing), our team will immediately facilitate movement of the participant to a location where they can safely be separated from others, while simultaneously engaging our Doctors on Call or a local medical facility to consult on the next steps, testing, and treatment. We would then, as required:
WorldStrides’ promise to you
WorldStrides will be there for your group every step of the way, from pre-tour, on-tour, and post-tour to ensure the safest experience possible for all travelers.
- Pre-Tour: We encourage all travelers to limit contact with non-household individuals and exposure to public places for 14 days prior to departure. If a student is symptomatic or tests positive within 14 days of travel, they should not travel with the group and should immediately contact their Program Leader or WorldStrides Customer Service.
- On-Tour: If a student exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 while participating on a program, we will help them get tested and safely separate them from the rest of the group while awaiting the results. If the test result is positive, we will be there every step of the way, from helping to secure the necessary care to arranging medically-required isolation.
- Post-Trip Assistance: In addition to advising all participants to monitor their health for 14 days after returning home and let their Program Leader know if they become ill, WorldStrides will work with the Program Leader or appropriate parties to carry out contact tracing and notifications as needed.
WorldClass Flexibility Guarantee
In today’s new travel environment, we understand that plans could change at any moment and that’s why we’ve created our WorldClass Flexibility Guarantee. This policy provides increased flexibility for group changes or individual cancellations. Click here to read more.
Emergency Contact Numbers
Our WorldStrides On Call offices are available 24 hours a day to alert us about an emergency or to find out more information about an emergency with a current traveling program. Please call these numbers only in regard to an emergency on a program that is currently traveling.