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Sail Caribbean: COVID-19 Information
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Sail Caribbean, COVID-19

Updated: 05/20/2021

Sail Caribbean’s COVID-19 Protocols for Summer 2021

Sail Caribbean’s COVID plan will adhere to guidelines set by the British Virgin Islands Government and be based on the technical protocol of the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Camp Association (ACA). Our plan will evolve and gain details over the next few months, alongside new research, vaccinations, and travel regulations. We will continually update this page with any significant changes, as well as e-mail this information to families who are joining us. It is impossible to create a risk-free environment, but we are working hard to minimize risk across our programs.

Overview of timeline and trip requirements

Pre-program:
All students and staff should plan for a 10-day pre-trip precautionary period. During this period, students and staff will be asked to adhere to the COVID-19 regulations in their local jurisdictions, refrain from activities with increased potential for exposure to COVID-19, and self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Activities with increased potential for exposure include gathering with friends, eating in restaurants, participating in gym sports, etc. The goal of this precautionary period is to reduce the risk of a participant being exposed to COVID-19 and becoming infected themselves, and to reduce the chance of becoming a close contact of a positive case. Within 5 days of departure, participants must receive and provide documentation of a negative PCR/NAAT test, conducted via nasal swab. If participants receive a positive test result or have close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID in this time period, they will not be permitted to travel and join their program, as per current guidelines. Sail Caribbean will not issue any refunds for a student who cannot join the program or is removed from program due to COVID-19 related illness. Thus, as is REQUIRED by the BVI government for all travelers, is paramount.

All students will also be required to complete and submit a BVI Travelers Gateway application no later than 24 hours before travel.. The Travelers Gateway application is easy to complete and requires you to submit a copy of your negative RT-PCR test results, proof of health insurance covering COVID-19 related medical expenses, and confirmation of your program booking. You will need to answer a few questions about your travel itinerary, health history and pay the $175 fee covering the cost of the required Day Zero and Day Four in-country COVID-19 tests. Sail Caribbean will send any specific information needed to complete this step in the lead-up to the program Once the BVI officials have reviewed your application, you will receive an email containing your Travel Authorization Letter.

For those traveling through Saint Thomas, they must complete the St Thomas Travel Screening Portal and gain pre-approval to enter the USVI before travel. This application should be completed between 48hrs and 24hrs before travel.

Students must print and carry copies of their negative COVID-19 test results and Travel Authorization Letters from both the Saint Thomas Travel Portal (if applicable) and the BVI Travel Gateway with them when they fly in order to be granted entry to the USVI and then the BVI.

Arrival in the BVI:
As of February 1, 2021, the BVI Government requires that all travelers take a COVID test upon arrival into the territory, and another test 4 days later. Anyone who tests positive upon arrival or during their program, will be immediately isolated in a hotel room and supervised and cared for by Sail Caribbean staff for the remainder of their program. We will have pre-arranged response protocol in coordination with local medical services to provide the best care possible. Parents will be welcomed to join their child in a nearby room, and consideration for travel back home will be determined by BVI and international travel rules. Parents will be responsible for the costs associated with BVI COVID-19 entry requirements, including mandatory testing and contact tracing (approximately $175).

Onboard the boats:
Each boat with staff and crew will form their own “pod,” being in close contact only with fellow crew members. Open hatch ventilation below and sleeping on deck will be prioritized. Staff and students wear facial coverings from arrival until the Day 0 arrival test results are received, unless sleeping, eating, or physically distanced. This will help to reduce transmission potential within each newly formed “pod”! Additional facial covering requirements will be in place on docks and when going ashore to visit shops and restaurants. Staff will administer and record daily temperature and symptom checks. Any interactions and activities between boats will take place outside, with risk-mitigating practices such as social distancing and facial coverings as determined.

After arriving on board, boats will explore designated mooring sites within the BVI, until the results of the required Day 4 COVID-19 tests are known. For these first 4 days, crews will have the opportunity to get to know each other and bond together as a group, while sailing and enjoying the beautiful BVI. Following receipt of their day 4 test results, (likely day 5 or 6 of program), boats where all crew have received negative results will be released from quarantine and permitted to explore further destinations, engage with other boats in the program to expand social circles, and begin any diving courses!

Positive test procedure:
Anyone who tests positive upon arrival or on Day 4 will be immediately isolated in a hotel room and supervised and cared for by staff for the remainder of their required isolation. If staff or students develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point during their program, they will be isolated and tested as soon as possible. In the event of a positive test result, Sail Caribbean will work closely with BVI officials and medical professionals to ensure appropriate documentation of the positive test result and subsequent isolation requirement to aid in insurance claims. Parents will be welcomed to join their child in a hotel, and consideration for travel back home will be determined by BVI and international travel rules. Crewmates will quarantine together in their ‘pod’ with increased symptom monitoring, as health guidelines require. While the crew is in quarantine, they will adhere to BVI restrictions while enjoying all program activities except for scuba diving. Parents will be responsible for all costs associated with isolation and quarantine requirements.

Vaccinated Students

Vaccination is not required for participation in Sail Caribbean’s programs.

As of May 15, 2021, the Government of the British Virgin Islands is allowing fully vaccinated travelers to be released from quarantine following receipt of a negative result from their COVID-19 arrival test. Due to varying access to vaccines and differences in eligibility, especially across our younger age groups, we anticipate a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated students on our programs, and our protocol will reflect the best practices for risk mitigation of unvaccinated individuals. Meaning, all students and staff will be considered unvaccinated for the purposes of risk mitigation, unless they are on a boat of fully vaccinated students AND staff.

Fully vaccinated travelers are those for whom it has been at least 2 weeks since their second dose in a 2-dose vaccine series (e.g. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca) or at least 2 weeks since their single-dose vaccine (e.g. J&J Janssen).

Travel

At this time, travelers may enter the BVI by flying into Tortola (Beef Island International Airport), or by transiting through Saint Thomas, USVI and taking a ferry from St Thomas to Tortola. Sail Caribbean has chartered a private ferry to ensure safe and smooth transit between Saint Thomas and Tortola.

All students will be required to submit to a PCR test via nasal swab for COVID-19 within 5 days of travel, and complete a BVI Travelers Gateway application no later than 24 hours before travel. Sail Caribbean will send any specific information needed to complete this step in the lead-up to the program. The Travelers Gateway application is easy to complete and requires you to submit a copy of your negative RT-PCR test results, proof of health insurance covering COVID-19 related medical expenses, and confirmation of your program booking. You will need to answer a few questions about your travel itinerary, health history and pay the $175 fee covering the cost of the required Day Zero and Day Four in-country COVID-19 tests. Once the BVI officials have reviewed your application, you will receive an email containing your Travel Authorization Letter.

For those traveling through Saint Thomas, they must complete the St Thomas Travel Screening Portal and gain pre-approval to enter the USVI before travel. This application should be completed between 48hrs and 24hrs before travel.

Students must print and carry copies of their negative COVID-19 test results and Travel Authorization Letters from both the Saint Thomas Travel Portal (if applicable) and the BVI Travel Gateway with them when they fly in order to be granted entry to the USVI and then the BVI.

Prior to booking flights, we recommend you check your airline’s rebooking terms and/or refund policy to ensure you feel comfortable should your plans or the program be changed. Most airlines have very flexible change fees and policies at this time! Sail Caribbean is not responsible for any fees associated with travel.

For parents who would like to travel with their children and drop them off or pick them up in Saint Thomas or Tortola, the following restrictions will apply:

STT

Parents who travel with their children to Saint Thomas must drop their children off with Sail Caribbean staff members at the baggage claim area of the Saint Thomas Cyril E King Airport. Parents will NOT be permitted to ride the ferry to Tortola along with their children. Following the end of program, parents may meet their children at the Saint Thomas Cyril E King Airport if they plan to continue their stay in the USVI, or fly out together.

EIS

Parents who travel with their children to Tortola’s Beef Island International Airport must drop their children off with Sail Caribbean staff members once they have cleared customs and immigration with their baggage. Following the end of program, parents may meet their children at the Nanny Cay Marina if they plan to continue their stay in the BVI.

If you have any questions or would like to speak with someone on our team, please do not hesitate to reach out at 800-321-0994 or info@sailcaribbean.com.

Refund, Insurance and Cancellation Policies

The deadline for a full tuition refund was April 1, 2021, after which tuition will not be refunded. In the unlikely event of the BVI issuing new tourist restrictions prohibiting running a program, or if Sail Caribbean cancels a program, we will fully refund tuition. In this case, we would notify you by email and with an update to our website. You would have the option to apply paid tuition to another trip in 2021, roll over your tuition to the summer of 2022, or receive a full tuition refund.

Trip insurance is a MUST for all 2021 programs! The BVI Government is requiring that all visitors must have travel medical insurance and, as Sail Caribbean will not issue any refunds for a student who cannot join the program or is removed from program due to COVID-19 related illness, this is paramount. We offer travel insurance through a travel protection plan from Trip Mate, which is available to US residents. This plan includes trip cancellation coverage, which reimburses non-refundable program expenses if you cancel your program due to a covered reason, such as sickness. Plans also include missed connection, trip interruption and travel delay coverages. COVID-19 is treated the same as any other sickness under the terms of the plan. Trip insurance through Trip Mate is only available prior to, or at the time of, full tuition payment. Coverage must be purchased for the entire tuition cost.

For further protection, families may add the Cancel for Any Reason Benefit (CFAR) to their plan at an additional cost. If you are eligible to add CFAR, this reimburses up to 75% of your non-refundable program expenses if you cancel your program until two days before your scheduled trip departure date for any reason not otherwise covered by the plan, including fear of contracting COVID-19 during the program. CFAR does not cover: 1) penalties associated with any air or other travel arrangements not provided by Sail Caribbean; or 2) the failure of Sail Caribbean to provide the bargained for travel arrangements due to cessation of operations for any reason. CFAR is not available to residents of New York. You can review the Trip Mate plan hereClick here for important disclaimers regarding the plan. For pricing and further information please contact us at 800-321-0994 or info@sailcaribbean.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

My child is fully vaccinated. Does he/she need all covid tests?

It’s important to remember that according to the CDC, a person is not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after a single-dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The BVI requires all visitors to adhere to testing protocols regardless of vaccination status. Two covid tests, the nasal RT-PCR test at least 5 days prior to arrival, and the RT-PCR test upon arrival, are requirements of the BVI Government for entry into the country.

For all students returning back to the US this summer, evidence of a negative COVID test is also required. The COVID test that is available in the BVI’s currently is the RT-PCR test. If your student is not returning to the US, then this return RT-PCR test may not be required, but that is dependent on where the student is traveling to.
In summation, all three of these RT-PCR tests are required due to BVI and US governmental regulations regardless of vaccination status for students.

Why aren’t you requiring every student to be vaccinated prior to the trip?

Sail Caribbean recognizes the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines and strongly encourages all eligible students to be vaccinated, but at this time we are not requiring it. We do not want to exclude those who have not had the opportunity to be vaccinated, as the 12+ age range for the vaccine occurred very recently.

Why can’t you place my son/daughter on a boat of other fully vaccinated students?

A lot of effort is placed into organizing each boat in order to create successful programs each year. We have always taken into account age, grade, gender, program focus…etc into consideration when making our boats and will continue to do that this year.

If my student is fully vaccinated, are they exempt from the quarantine period?

Currently, the BVI government requires each pod to follow the procedures for the least vaccinated person in the pod. For example, on a boat of fully, partially and non vaccinated people, everyone would need to follow the quarantine procedures for non vaccinated people. This means that a fully vaccinated person is only taking one additional PCR test.

What will the quarantine period be like for my son/daughter?

While student’s wait for test results they are in quarantine, not isolation. Isolation means that the individual is staying alone at a specially designated room. During the quarantine period students will be living on their sailboats, building friendships with the other crew members in their pod, and enjoying many of the great activities Sail Carribean has to offer each year. These activities include sailing, community service, marine science projects, snorkeling, water and beach activities just to name a few!

Will quarantine affect the scuba diving experience?

Students will attend the same number of dives, visit exciting dive sites, and be able to obtain the same dive certifications as previous summers. In a normal year, students start diving around the second or third day of the program. This summer we will use this time to focus on sailing and settling into boat life, a significant part of the experience. The diving will start after students clear quarantine.