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Health & Safety

 

Our Top Priority.

The health, safety, and well-being of all participating students, families, coaches, and staff on all Beyond Sports programs is a top priority for the organization on every level. Beyond Sports is committed to providing clear and comprehensive risk management support, infrastructure, policies, and procedures regarding all health and safety matters for any program participant, whether traveling individually or as part of a collective group. 

 

We ensure a proactive approach to the safety and security of all participants during the pre-departure, on-site experience, and re-entry phases of each program:

Program Staff & On-Site Support

Emergency Services

International Health Insurance

International Travel

Program Orientation

COVID-19 Pandemic Consideration

Program Staff & On-Site Support

All program staff are trained to provide effective and rapid responses in any emergency situation that could arise in Costa Rica. Our four areas of staff training include health & safety, water safety, mental & emotional health, and sexual harassment prevention. We maintain a 6:1 student-staff ratio through the GLASS program. Our local staff have emergency cell phones with them at all times, and our U.S. staff team monitors a 24/7 phone line. Our staff also speak Spanish and are very comfortable navigating the Playa Flamingo and Guanacaste region of Costa Rica as they are full-time residents. 

 

Emergency Services

  • Beyond Sports has a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year emergency phone line for students, parents and families, coaches, and administrators. Emergency phone number: 1-347-746-3814

  • Prior to departure, GLASS participants will be given a program guide with emergency contact information including local hospital information. 

  • All local staff are required to complete emergency response preparedness training programs which include visits to the hospitals and health clinics in the area.

 

International Health Insurance

Beyond Sports provides extensive blanket international health insurance coverages to all individual program participants through our partnership with GeoBlue Travel Insurance: https://www.geobluetravelinsurance.comStudents are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan unless they indicate that they will be utilizing pre-existing coverage. Sports-related injuries are also covered through GeoBlue Insurance.

 

International Travel

Our staff thoroughly prepares our students for the international travel component of GLASS. Prior to departure, each student will receive:

  • A detailed pre-departure guide that includes a full explanation of travel day logistics

  • A GLASS swag pack, which includes a t-shirt to be worn on travel day

  • Access to a private group message where they can quickly communicate with their GLASSmates and Mentors

  • Direct contact information for the program director and our international travel coordinator

GLASS is a first-time international experience for many of our students. Ensuring that all students are ready for travel is a high priority. Our staff is readily available to speak with students and families prior to their GLASS session to answer any international travel questions.

 

Program Orientation

Upon arrival, all GLASS students will participate in a program orientation. Our orientation covers expectations, health & safety protocols, and our Student Code of Conduct. All students will be required to sign our Student Code of Conduct when registering for a GLASS program. This document is in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community members. 

 

COVID-19 Pandemic Consideration

As we launch our first international programs since the Covid-19 Pandemic began, we want to take this opportunity to share our broader thinking as well as some of the specific criteria we used in deciding to offer this program. Student health & safety is and always will be our top priority as an organization.

We are a mission-driven organization that believes international travel and experiencing different cultures is an important ingredient to a fulfilling life, both for what it teaches us about other people and places, and how it helps us appreciate what we have in the United States. We also believe that high school age is a unique developmental period where many 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunities are more available and accessible than in other stages in life.

We know that there is a diverse spectrum of risk tolerance and beliefs about what safety measures are reasonable during the pandemic for both healthy high school aged students in particular, and also, how that demographic's choices might impact members of our communities who are more vulnerable to the virus. We don't expect everyone will agree with our assessments 100%, however, we hope that by detailing our thinking, students and their parents will be able to make their own informed decisions while understanding what expectations we will have for students in Costa Rica or South Africa.

We have been tracking the Covid-19 pandemic closely since January 2020 when evidence of community spread outside of China first emerged. Over that time, we have done our best to filter through overwhelming amounts of information while remaining skeptical of advice that might be politically or financially motivated. We prefer data backed and scientifically verifiable information, while trying to appropriately weight new information that might not yet hold a scientific consensus.

As has always been the case in our risk assessment and analysis, we recognize that truly 100% guaranteed safety is impossible in our world. Instead, we must assess risks to student safety relative to a realistic alternative.

 

Health & Safety Topics

Healthy High School Age Students and COVID-19


In the early months of the pandemic, there was significant uncertainty about many of the fundamental metrics that epidemiologists use to assess the threat and determine the appropriate response to a novel virus. Fortunately, as better data emerged, it became clear that mortality risk was heavily weighted to the elderly and patients with a comorbidity. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, 80% of Covid deaths in the US have been in people aged 65 and older with those over 85 with the highest risk of serious symptoms. In an effort to provide context, according to the CDC, more Americans in the 15-24 age bracket have died from Pneumonia this year than Covid-19. Other causes of death for this age bracket including "unintentional injury", suicide, homicide, and malignant neoplasms (cancerous tumors), far outpace Covid-19. This Mayo Clinic Article offers a good summary of underlying health conditions that increase risk and, as always, we recommend getting advice from a medical professional.




Risks Compared to Alternative


While risks to healthy high school age students are low, we understand the stress and uncertainty that students and parents may feel about the virus. In our decision to offer this program, we had to be confident that students would be as safe or safer than they are in the United States.
Of course, individual behavior plays a significant role in the risk of contracting the virus but environment also plays a role in influencing behavior. Our campus environment in both Costa Rica and South Africa will reduce the number of transmission vectors simply because students will not be interacting with nearly as many different people. Furthermore, the majority of your time in Costa Rica or South Africa will be spent in open air environments around campus, the beach, or the community. Resarch shows the being outdoors significantly reduces the risk of transmission.




Confidence in Costa Rica and South Africa


In determining when it is possible to travel again, our organization has been simultaneously focused on both the risks the virus poses to student health as well as potential complications with international borders or other political uncertainty. While Covid-19 is a new consideration for us, we've accessed several other health related risks over the years including Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, and Ebola. Likewise, we've evaluated a wide variety of political risk in each of the countries where we operate.
Costa Rica and South Africa opened their borders to all US citizens in November. There is no requirement for quarantine upon arrival in either country. However, at this moment, South Africa does require a negative Covid-19 test result for entry. We are confident that both Costa Rica and South Africa will remain open to and accommodating of US citizens for the duration of the pandemic. In the extremely unlikely event of a border closure, we would have plenty of warning for students to finish out their program or return home.
Another consideration during the pandemic is ensuring that our students would have easy access to high quality medical care for Covid or any other reasons. There is a private hospital located 10 minutes from our campus in Costa Rica and 20 minutes from our private accomodations in South Africa. In normal times, these hospitals serve the large communities of ex-pats and are equipped to manage large influxes of tourists during the high season. With international tourism reduced during the pandemic, and Costa Rica and South Africa's Covid-19 infections per capita lower than the United States, we have no concerns that the local hospitals will be overburdened. We will continue to monitor these factors closely throughout the spring.
The US Embassy in Costa Rica and the US Embassy in South Africa provide frequent informative updates.




Your Flight


Several of our US staff members will travel to Costa Rica this month and our staff who live in Costa Rica have already been visited by family from the United States. Airport protocols are similar to those in the US, masks are mandated for all travelers as well as all security people and TSA agents are constantly disinfecting surfaces between travelers. Normally congested security lines are spaced out to allow 6-feet of social distancing. We recommend a surgical mask rather than a cloth mask which studies have shown to reduce risk of transmission. Studies also show that a face shield in addition to a mask further decreases risk. If you do not wear a face shield, even sunglasses can make a difference.
We recognize that the flight to Costa Rica or South Africa is probably our highest risk factor despite research showing that airplanes pose less risk than normal daily activities like visiting a grocery store or eating out.





Questions? Check out our FAQs page or contact Annika@beyondsportsglass.com

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