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COVID-19 PlanningKeeping Health + Safety at the Center

We know that engaging with one another in person is important, particularly this coming summer — even if being together may have a unique look and feel in the Age of COVID.

Last Updated: june 8, 2021Safety Has Always Been Our Priority

As summer approaches, keeping students and staff safe is our top priority at EXPLO (and always has been). EXPLO has assembled a COVID-19 Task Force that includes both medical personnel and each of our Program Heads. The task force meets weekly to review health and safety protocols, emerging information on testing, vaccines, practices, regulations, recommendations, travel advisories, and the latest from the Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, and the state Departments of Health. As we navigate the changing landscape, we commit to being flexible in the face of uncertainty and staying transparent and consistent in our communications as more information becomes available to us.

What to Expect This Summer

This is a living document, and we will provide enrolled families continually updated information as we approach the summer.

We expect all students and families to take the EXPLO Health Pledge that acknowledges that, regarding keeping the entire community safe, individual choice and action will need to be subordinate to the common good.

If EXPLO cannot run this summer, families can expect a full refund.

We are a not-for-profit organization, and the EXPLO Board of Trustees’ position is clear that our families place their trust in us and we need to make families whole in the event that we cannot run the program this summer.


We know that EXPLO is an investment. Therefore, we have made arrangements for families to purchase optional insurance to cover their investment at a very reasonable cost. This means you can enroll with little risk and with peace of mind. As one insurance expert has told us, “EXPLO leads the industry for insurance. Families cannot get better coverage than what EXPLO is offering. Period.”

Learn more about EXPLO Program/Travel Protection Plans


Right now, recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state regulations include quarantining for a period of time before travel. As such, we ask all students and staff to take precautions before arriving on campus. While not a strict quarantine, we ask that you “lay low before you go.” What does that mean? For five days before you arrive on campus, we ask that you not engage in activities that could increase exposure — like going out to restaurants, attending public events (such as an athletic event or concert), or having unvaccinated friends to your home for indoor visits. Learn more


We have planned several testing protocols to ensure that students and staff keep our community safe while on campus:

  • Three days before arriving on campus, unvaccinated students will need to have a PCR test and bring their negative test results to registration, along with a completed health screening form.

  • Upon arrival at the program, unvaccinated students will be required to take both a rapid test and a PCR test.

  • We plan to administer additional COVID tests at least weekly to all unvaccinated members of the community.

  • Vaccinated members of the EXPLO community, including students and all staff, will be exempt from PCR testing and will only take a test they experience COVID symptoms.


Based on current recommendations and the advice of our medical team, all members of the EXPLO community will need to wear disposable masks. Before the start of the program, we will notify families as to which types of disposable masks are acceptable and how many to bring. We’ll have designated time throughout the day for students to take mask breaks.

As we near the summer, we will be in contact with more specific requirements.


For decades, EXPLO has had dedicated health centers staffed with 8-12 nurses on rotation for 24/7 coverage. That will continue this summer. 

Additionally, on-campus health centers overseen by our partner physician’s practices will expand this year to include areas for both testing and quarantining or isolation should a member of our community test positive for COVID-19. 


EXPLO has acquired a new contact tracing system for students that will allow us to respond quickly and efficiently if a member of our community tests positive for COVID-19. The POM Tracer is a small and lightweight Bluetooth device, approximately the size of a large coin, that students will wear to track whom they have come into contact with throughout the session. We will follow CDC guidelines to determine and program safe distancing. The devices will function anywhere, as they are neither GPS nor WiFi dependent. 

We are adjusting protocols and procedures ranging from how arrival day works and the first day of the program to how we approach meals and have robust on-campus programming at the ready if weekend trips are not possible. These adjustments include:

  • CAPACITY: We are limiting our enrollment to ensure generous space to distance on campus, including in classrooms and living spaces. That said, we’ll be closely monitoring how the COVID-19 situation is developing and will expand enrollment if we’re able.

  • RESIDENTIAL PROGRAMS ONLY: In the past, we’ve had EXPLO programs of different lengths on the same campuses contemporaneously. This year, to prevent unnecessary overlap in coming and going, all programs on each respective campus will be of the same length, so that arrival and departure days will align. At Wheaton College and Sarah Lawrence College, all programs will be three weeks. At Colby College, all programs will be two weeks.

  • STUDENT HOUSING: Based on guidance from our Host Institutions and recommendations from public health officials, EXPLO students will sleep in single rooms. While students will be sleeping in a room alone, they’ll hardly be lonely! All EXPLO students are part of an Advisor Group, led by Advisors who live on the floor, check in with students throughout the day, and keep students informed of what’s going on around campus. Advisor Groups function like an on-campus family, and everyone looks out for one another.

    Exceptions may be made on a limited basis for students whose families make prior arrangements with the Program. Examples of exceptions would include siblings or close friends whose families follow certain health and safety guidelines. 
  • ADDITIONAL SAFETY MEASURES: Additionally, we will be implementing daily health assessments, additional staff training, and requiring enhanced sanitation and disinfecting of classrooms, public areas, athletic facilities, and restrooms.