COVID-19 Updates


Updates as of November 30, 2021

Schoolwide Updates November 2021

NOLS requires that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccine boosters are not required to comply with this requirement, but we strongly encourage people who are vaccinated to get a booster when they are eligible. Even if fully vaccinated, we may require students to exercise certain precautions before and during their course.

Please see the Expeditions COVID-19 Disclosure Document or Wilderness Medicine COVID-19 Disclosure Document for more details


Updates as of August 11, 2021

Expedition Updates August 2021

COVID-10 has resulted in many new challenges for NOLS. Since we began operating again in summer 2020, we have been working diligently to track changing scientific information during the pandemic and to keep our course practices up to date with CDC guidance.

The most recent guidance from the CDC states that the risk of transmission in outdoor settings is low for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people; and that unvaccinated people should continue to social distance and use masks in crowded outdoor settings and for activities with close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

NOLS has made the following changes to our field practices:

During the first 10 days of a course:

  • It will no longer be necessary to wear masks outdoors in most circumstances.
  • Unvaccinated course members should still physically distance and wear masks when they are not able to, such as in enclosed spaces and any crowded outdoor situations, such as gathering as a close group (i.e. putting heads together to read maps).
  • Students who document that they are fully vaccinated will be in shelters of 3-4 students per shelter.
  • An unvaccinated person will share a ventilated shelter with one other person sleeping head to toe.

All other COVID-19 practices will remain the same:

  • We strongly emphasize that students take steps to minimize their exposure to COVID-19 in the 14 days before their course; at home and while traveling to NOLS.
  • Students need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken no more than 5 days before course start, or proof of full vaccination when they arrive.
  • Our emphasis on frequent hand washing will continue.
  • All students will have masks and any student may choose to wear a mask when they wish in the field.
  • Masks and social distancing are still required on NOLS campuses, and in enclosed spaces, such as vehicles.

General FAQ

  • Where can I find information on NOLS' practices to limit the spread of COVID-19 on all courses?

    You may view the most current practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19 on our COVID-19 Practices page.

  • What is the school’s risk management policy?

    Risk is essential to a NOLS education. We operate in dynamic, unpredictable environments and practice thoughtful and effective risk management to attain our educational objectives. Contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, is a risk for everyone and (like other risks) cannot be eliminated.

    The principles for NOLS COVID-19 risk management are:

    • Informed consent
    • Require COVID-19 vaccines
    • Reduce virus transmission
    • Hygiene: Emphasis on hand washing or sanitizing to prevent flu-like illness
    • Screening for symptoms (daily health checks)
    • Monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Can I enroll on a NOLS course at this time?

    Yes! We encourage you to do so and will provide flexibility so that you can have the time and information you need to complete your application. In the event your course cancels, we are providing full tuition refunds, opportunities to transfer to a future course, and other student support. 

    Please bear in mind that we are monitoring COVID-19 impacts closely and if external indicators, the CDC and governing authorities provide guidance that would not allow NOLS to operate, your course status may change. We invite you to view courses online.