I want to personally assure you that safety – emotional, physical and psychological – is the primary component in all that we do, and it remains of utmost importance to us now.

Despite evidence showing the new coronavirus is not particularly harmful to the population we serve, as accredited and/or licensed facilities, infection control is part of our everyday operations. We want to do our part in ”flattening the curve” and we are taking this very seriously.

New Vision Wilderness is monitoring the COVID-19 situation around the clock. We have precautions in place to ensure our employees, families and students are safe. With that in mind, two weeks ago we proactively created a Coronavirus Taskforce – comprised of a cross-section of doctors and nurses, clinicians and program operators – which has been meeting and communicating regularly with our teams. We are closely tracking the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local health and licensing agencies for the latest developments and best practices related to COVID-19.

With all of this in mind, here is a list of steps we are already taking at our wilderness locations:

What We Are Doing in the Field:

  • Required temperature checks on all staff entering the field
  • Temperature checks on all students 1x/day
  • Retrain all staff and students on appropriate hand-washing techniques
  • Hand washing circles 3x/day, with soap and water, as well as frequent use of hand sanitizer
  • Supervised hand cleansing after bathroom runs and before meals
  • Student and employee cups and utensils sterilized daily with bleach solution
  • Individual water containers sterilized weekly
  • Lysol wipes are available to wipe down group gear
  • Regular cleaning in office spaces of well-used items like doorknobs and light switches.
  • Participants and staff wear vinyl gloves while preparing food
  • Detailed plans for quarantine should a student develop a fever and need to be separated from the group
  • Staff wear masks if they are caring for sick students
  • For staff working with sick students, at a minimum, hourly hand washing
  • If staff misses three days in a row due to illness, they must have a doctor’s note approving their return to work
  • Must be fever free for 24 hours without analgesics (fever-reducing medications) before returning to work
  • Following CDC and The Joint Commission guidelines on infection control

What We Are Doing for Enrolling Students:

  • Asking questions around an illness that may be present in their home
  • Every incoming student receives a physical as a standard part of our procedures
  • During this time, they are checked to ensure they are fever free and do not have any respiratory distress

Visitor Access and Movement:

  • In an effort to reduce unnecessary visitors to our groups, we have asked all current families to postpone non-essential field visits and we have postponed all referral partner visits
  • We are making decisions about Family Transitions/Graduations and Psychological Testing on a case by case basis
  • Any parent that has traveled in the last 14 days to a Level 3 country (per CDC guidelines) will not be permitted in the field
  • For families that do have approved visits, asking questions around an illness that may be presented in their home
  • Temperature checks on parents visiting the field for the next 30 days (minimum)

Additional Measures Taken:

  • Any staff who are sick are asked to stay home
  • Reduction of out-of-office activities involving large crowds over the next 30 days (at a minimum)
  • Coordination with local hospitals and pharmacies on best practices related to COVID-19

Travel

  • New Vision Wilderness has postponed all business-related travel
  • We are advising all staff to reduce or eliminate personal travel
  • For any staff returning from a Level 3 destination, per CDC guidelines, we are requiring them to arrange for a 14-day self-quarantine period upon their return to the U.S.
  • If staff exhibit any symptoms during the quarantine, they will extend the quarantine until they are fever free for 24-hours without the use of fever-reducing medications and no longer exhibit symptoms including a cough

We will continue to evaluate travel restrictions based on CDC guidelines

Communication

  • We continue to communicate every week with our families, referral partners, and other stakeholders as this situation unfolds
  • Families are receiving emails from our leadership team as well as their regular weekly scheduled calls with their child’s therapist
  • Our weekly Parent Webinar offers another place for current families to connect with New Vision Wilderness leadership to get updates about the unfolding situation and hear about ongoing programming
  • Staff have an email address for our Task Force that they are encouraged to use to ask questions or report any issues

We find ourselves encountering an unprecedented set of circumstances with the emergence of COVID-19 in the U.S. Social distancing, while important, can lead to depression and social isolation. We encourage all employees to watch for signs of social isolation. Our goal is that by being proactive with safety measures, we can continue to operate effectively and safely within this climate and not be paralyzed with fear. Our mission remains the same more than ever, to drive teen anxiety, depression and suicide to an all-time low.

We are indeed facing unsettling times. However, we are also facing an opportunity to demonstrate our compassion, joy, love and resilience. It is more important than ever to root ourselves in the core values that comprise our foundation. We must model empathy for those in distress, find creative ways to be of service to each other, lean on each other in trusting relationships, and take comfort in the growth that will come from this time of adversity.

New Vision Wilderness is confident in our ability and prepared to keep you safe.

With joy,

Drew Hornbeck

CEO/Co-Founder

New Vision Wilderness

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