Updates as of March 29, 2021
Expeditions Update March 29, 2021
In response to updated guidelines from the CDC, and in consultation with our medical advisors, NOLS changed the "Phase 1" period of an Expedition from 14 days to 10 days. In the Phase 1 period, everyone follows practices such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. After this period, if everyone on the course remains symptom-free, the course may transition to a family group phase where physical distancing and mask requirements might be relaxed.
Daily health checks and all other COVID-19 mitigation practices for Expeditions will remain the same, except that daily health checks will no longer include taking temperature.
Wilderness Medicine Update January 2021
In response to the worsening COVID pandemic, in December NOLS made the decision to substantially scale back Wilderness Medicine programming through mid-February. NOLS Wilderness Medicine staff have used this time to undertake a reassessment of the criteria under which we have been operating courses since NOLS reopened last July, and have developed updated criteria we feel will allow us to operate responsibly in the current situation.
Building on the proven Expanded COVID Classroom Practices, NOLS Wilderness Medicine has implemented changes in the following areas:
- Personal protective equipment requirements
- COVID-19 testing requirements on courses longer than three days
- Limits on acceptable caseloads in areas hosting courses
Since July 2020, the pandemic situation has changed a great deal. On the one hand, we have a far better understanding of the SAR-CoV-2 virus, and increased testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) availability, and the ongoing vaccine rollout make running courses a more manageable endeavor.
On the other hand, the continuing patchwork of regulations across the U.S., in particular, has made it challenging to assess the advisability of operating in various locations. These new operating criteria updates seek to apply an objective standard to operational decisions amidst our national (and global) patchwork of public health orders.
NOLS Wilderness Medicine will work with our sponsors to implement these updated protocols and inform students promptly. Students currently enrolled on an upcoming Wilderness Medicine course will receive an updated student disclosure and course logistics noting any changes—particularly testing requirements—that affect their courses. Students intending to register for future courses should read all course documents carefully.
Practicing Tolerance for Adversity and Uncertainty
NOLS has been actively monitoring and responding to the evolving situation around COVID-19. The school’s leadership has been in close consultation with federal and state public health experts, peer organizations, and our educational partners since January.
For 55 years, NOLS has helped over 350,000 students learn the lessons of the wilderness: self-reliance, judgment, risk management, and the skills to thrive in a changing world. The current environment of uncertainty speaks directly to the NOLS curriculum and our values as a school. This is truly a time for leadership and judgment, given the unpredictable trajectory of the pandemic. We thank you for your support, patience, and understanding as we navigate the rapidly changing landscape.
We will continue to assess the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on escalating travel, health, and safety restrictions and proactively communicate any impacts on future courses. Please check this page for the latest updates.
- June 4 - President’s Letter
- May 12 - President's Letter
- April 8 - President's Letter
- March 17 - President’s Letter
- March 12 - President’s Letter
- March 3 - Fremont County Press Release
Archived Course Updates
- NOLS Reopens Expeditions in Mexico in 2021
- Updated Wilderness Medicine Certification Extension Plan:
If your certification expired/expires between 3/13/2019 and 8/31/2021 we are automatically adding 12 months to your certification length. Your twelve-month re-entry period begins at the end of your new expiration date. This extension applies to all NOLS Wilderness Medicine certifications including wilderness medicine, CPR, and epinephrine auto-injector. If your certification was issued by another training provider, please contact them directly. It will take some time to make these changes in our data system, thank you for your patience.
- The school operated 24 field courses and 13 classroom courses in July and plans to run 15 field courses and 36 classroom courses in August. These totals represent approximately 15% of normal for field and 40% of normal for classroom courses.
- NOLS will continue to offer field courses (primarily expedition semesters) at domestic US campuses through spring 2021. The Restart Task Force continues to monitor location, regional, and international travel advisories and will review resuming international operations in 2021.
- Expedition courses (domestic Spring and Summer 2021) and Alumni trips are currently enrolling. View available courses
- Wilderness Medicine welcomed 25 WEMT students to the Wyss Wilderness Medicine Campus in July. WEMT programs are scheduled monthly from August to December. Currently, all courses are full with waitlists. Shorter wilderness medicine courses and recertification programs are also scheduled for the fall and winter. View available courses. The team continues to monitor opportunities to run additional courses where local guidelines permit.
- Risk Services completed its inaugural online Risk Management Training (RMT) course. There will be additional RMT courses available this fall with both in-person and online options.
- Registration for the fully-online 2020 Wilderness Risk Management Conference is now open. This year’s conference features keynote speaker José González, and topical panels addressing COVID-19 field practices, inequity in the outdoors, and more.
- NOLS announces limited operations as it resumes select field and classroom courses starting July 1. Courses in Alaska have been cancelled due to continuing travel restrictions.
- Field expeditions will operate from two Wyoming locations, Lander and Boulder, and include a small mix of backpacking and horse packing courses.
- A small selection of Wilderness Medicine courses will resume in the U.S. and internationally.
- The 27th Wilderness Risk Management Conference will pivot to a digital event. Registration and event details will be announced soon.