COVID-19 Policies and Expectations (Updated January 2022)

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General COVID-19 Protocols

Our COVID-19 protocols adhere to the most up-to-date guidance from the Vermont Department of Health and Vermont Agency of Education. Our protocols may change as guidelines evolve. For more information, please see the linked resources upon which we base our protocols at the bottom of this page. As of January 2022, general protocols include:

  • N95 or KN95 masks are required indoors for all staff, visitors, and participants.
  • Masks are optional outdoors, and distancing outdoors is encouraged.
  • For Youth Programs: Masks are only required outdoors when staff and/or participants are within 3' distance for a prolonged period.
  • For Youth Programs: If a program comes inside due to hazardous weather, and that period overlaps lunch or snack time, masks may be removed for eating or drinking, provided that students are at least 3 feet apart.
  • For programs with a significant indoor component, participants and instructors will be required to take a rapid antigen test on the day of the program.

Vaccination Requirements:

All NBNC staff are required to be fully immunized against COVID-19 per CDC recommendations. Program participants on our overnight trips are also required to show proof of  full immunization. NBNC will not solicit the vaccine status of participants in any of our other program areas.

Program-specific Protocols

(Updated 1/19/2022)

At NBNC we believe that being outdoors in nature provides significant social, emotional, physical, and intellectual benefits for our children. Our educational programming practices a nature-based approach to learning that builds health, happiness, and resilience. During this pandemic, we provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can engage with their peers and the natural world. Our goal is to keep each other safe and healthy, and to remain open so your child can continue to be a part of our learning community.

Our safety committee evaluates and updates our policies and protocols regularly. These protocols may be updated over the course of the school year in accordance with the Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Department of Health.

Forest Preschool’s COVID protocols and requirements are somewhat different than those for other NBNC programs because it is a daily program and because Forest Preschoolers are almost all too young to be vaccinated.

Daily Health Screenings

We require that you perform a daily health screening before dropping your child off at Forest Preschool. This includes ensuring that they do not have any of the following symptoms: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or chronic runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.  Daily health screenings are recorded by families on the sign-in sheet at check-in each day. 

If Your Child is Sick

If your child has any of the symptoms listed above, they need to stay home. Please phone us to report your child absent. If your child – or anyone in your household – has tested positive for COVID, notify the FPS Director immediately. Here is the State of Vermont’s webpage on what to do if you test positive for COVID.

Before returning to Forest Preschool after any sickness, in addition to being fever-free for at least 24 hours, students need to be totally symptom-free. If the sickness was COVID, a negative COVID test is also required. 

Higher Risk of Exposure

If your child has had a known or suspected COVID exposure, or higher-than-normal risk (such as traveling on public transportation) within the last 10 days prior to the program, we require you to have received a negative COVID test before returning to the program. If your child has tested positive for COVID, notify the FPS Director immediately.  

Here is the State of Vermont's webpage on what to do if you're a close contact of someone with COVID.

Masking

Please send your child to Forest Preschool each day with 5-6 extra masks, including at least two N95 or KN95s. Starting in mid-January 2022 NBNC is requiring use of N95 or KN95 masks when indoors. For outdoor time, provide cloth masks with two or more layers of washable, breathable fabric, and which cover the nose and mouth. Every mask should fit snugly against the face and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Here are two masks we recommend for preschoolers: Baggu Fabric Masks for Kids | KN95s in kids size for indoor use.

Parents, caregivers, and staff will be required to wear masks indoors – and in some situations outdoors.

General

If we are notified of a positive COVID case, either in a child or staff member, Forest Preschool may be closed on short notice. Families and teachers will be contacted immediately.

Parents and caregivers must sign NBNC’s COVID-19 Disclaimer.


More Information

For more information, please see the resource upon which we base our protocols:

For more about our philosophy around nature-based teaching and learning during COVID times, please see our position statements:

(Updated 1/19/2022)

At NBNC we believe that being outdoors in nature provides significant social, emotional, physical, and intellectual benefits for our children. Our educational programming practices a nature-based approach to learning that builds health, happiness, and resilience. During this pandemic, we provide a safe and nurturing environment where children can engage with their peers and the natural world. Our goal is to keep each other safe and healthy, and to remain open so your child can continue to be a part of our learning community.

Our safety committee evaluates and updates our policies and protocols regularly. These protocols may be updated over the course of the school year in accordance with the Vermont Agency of Education and the Vermont Department of Health.

Daily Health Screenings

We require that you perform a daily health screening before dropping your child off at NBNC. This includes ensuring that they do not have any of the following symptoms: Fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or chronic runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea.

If Your Child is Sick

If your child has any of the symptoms listed above, they need to stay home. Please phone us to report your child absent. In order to return to a program, children will be required to have a negative COVID test. Children can return to an NBNC program once symptoms have improved and a negative COVID test is confirmed. Your child needs to be fever free for 24 hours before returning.  If your child has tested positive for COVID, notify NBNC immediately.

Higher Risk of Exposure

If your child has experienced a known or suspected exposure, or higher-than-normal risk (such as traveling on public transportation), within the last 10 days prior to the program: we require you to administer a rapid antigen test on the day of the program before program participation. If your child has tested positive for COVID, notify NBNC immediately.  

Masking

Please send your child to NBNC each day with 3-4 extra masks (2 extra masks for after-school programming), including at least one N95 or KN95. Starting in mid-January 2022 NBNC is requiring use of N95 or KN95 masks when programs might include significant amounts of indoor time due to severe weather. For outdoor time, cloth masks with 2 or more layers of washable, breathable fabric, and which cover the nose and mouth are acceptable. Any mask should fit snugly against the face and be comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Here are three masks we recommend: Outdoor Research cloth masks for outdoor useKN95s in kids size for indoor use | Baggu Fabric Masks for Kids

Masking requirements:

  • N95 or KN95 masks are required indoors at all times. 
  • Masks are only required outdoors when staff and/or participants are within 3' distance for a prolonged period. 
  • Masks that are wet/frozen or unable to stay on a child’s face will be changed out for a new, clean mask. 
  • Regardless of vaccination status, parents, caregivers, and staff will be required to wear masks indoors – and in some situations outdoors.

If we have been notified of a positive case, either in a child or staff member, the program may be closed on short notice. Families and teachers will be contacted immediately.

Parents and caregivers must sign NBNC's COVID-19 Disclaimer.


More Information

For more information, please see the resource upon which we base our protocols:

For more about our philosophy around nature-based teaching and learning during COVID times, please see our position statements:

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206

Hours: Center Open Monday-Friday 9-4
Trails Open 24/7