Our Commitment to Health & Safety On Your student Trip

The team at Brightspark has helped thousands of teachers and students travel the world on education and performance tours each year. On all our tours, safety is our number one priority. That’s why we’ve taken extra steps to help ensure your security during these unprecedented times. Our team of travel experts is constantly evolving and developing new protocols in response to COVID-19.

As this situation continues to change, the procedures detailed below may change, too. They will also differ from group to group as we accommodate each custom-tailored student tour.

Our Team Approach to a New Normal

As part of the WorldStrides family, we have  assembled a cross-functional team we call the Back to Travel Task Force early this spring, and we have been working to help you travel with confidence ever since. The Task Force leverages decades of experience across our company to assess the safety of the destinations we travel, survey site openings and closings, understand new protocols and regulations from our partners, and create training and detailed safety plans to manage the risk associated with COVID-19. The Back to Travel group is led by Chief Experience, Health & Safety Officer Terri Morgoglione. This team monitors CDC and WHO guidelines and receives guidance from The George Washington Department of Emergency Medicine – the same professionals who staff our Doctors on Call program. We are closely monitoring the evolving standards of the education community and the travel industry to continually update our plans with the latest information on COVID-19.

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Adaptations for health and safety

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Your Tour Leader

  • Your group will be met by a locally-based Tour Leader, who has been specially trained in specific protocols to help keep the group safe.
  • The Tour Leader will provide a destination-specific safety briefing to help set expectations for our time together.
  • For Fall 2020, the ratio will be one Tour Leader per 25 participants to provide more support and to help be more agile in the locations we are visiting together.
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On The Motorcoach

  • Masks may not be required while seated in the bus in most situations, but passengers will be encouraged to wear face coverings for the duration of their travel, including prior to boarding in accordance with guidance from the Government of Canada. 
  • The motor coach's interiors will be cleaned frequently, with added attention to cleaning handrails, arm rests, lavatories, and frequently touched surfaces before and after every trip.
  • Other changes you might see include plexiglass or empty rows around the motorcoach drivers and drivers may be wearing masks.
  • Hand sanitizer will also be available on the motorcoach for passengers and the driver.
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At The Airport

  • Each airport, and airline, will have its own rules regarding your flight travel, and we recommend you check the website of your airport and carrier now, and at least 72 hours before departing. Temperature checks and face coverings will very likely be a requirement at the airport and on the plane.
  • Some destinations may require health forms or additional testing/screening prior to arrival, including requirements based on your home state or city. We will make every effort to communicate these requirements in advance.
  • Brightspark will provide two (2) disposable face masks per day for participants in advance of the program for groups traveling in Fall 2020.
    Many airport restaurants may not be open, and in-flight food service will not be available, so we recommend packing a meal and snacks for your journey, if you are traveling by air.
  • You will be allowed to bring hand sanitizer in a container up to 12 ounces in your carry-on.
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At The Hotel

  • Our check-in process will be modified to limit interaction with other guests at the hotel. This may mean private entrances, fewer people in the lobby, and fewer people in the elevator.
  • We’ve worked with our hotel partners to ensure the highest standards in cleanliness in the hotels prior to your arrival, which will include disinfection of surfaces inside rooms and extra cleaning on high contact areas such as light switches, doorknobs, and TV remotes. Once the room has been expertly cleaned, hotel staff will not enter unless specifically requested.
  • Hotel guests should expect limited food and beverage options inside the hotel and limited or no property amenities (e.g. pools, gyms, etc.).
  • We will offer affordable upgrades related to room occupancy. We will also work with families traveling together to encourage rooms based on family units, and limit roommate switching on programs that travel between cities.
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The Sites We Visit

  • Our team is working closely with our contacts at museums, landmarks, and other sites we visit to define specific (and evolving) protocols for groups to make sure the experience is both safe and fun.
  • Based on what we learn, we may make changes to your itinerary to make sure we have plenty of time to accommodate the new way of doing things, and also to make sure we are focusing your time on places where you have the most freedom to explore.
  • We will also take plenty of breaks for washing hands.
  • Many of the sites we visit will require face coverings, and have new rules for security and group management, and you should be prepared to follow the instructions of your Course Leader and staff at these locations. We recommend you bring a clear purse or backpack, or a gallon-sized ziploc bag, as some sites will not allow traditional bags.
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Meals

  • We will use our local knowledge and strong relationships to select restaurants that are following strict hygiene practices to keep participants safe.
  • Self-serve buffets will not be used.
  • Where possible, we will arrange for private or separate seating. Pre-orders may be required in some situations, particularly in situations where we will provide box or carry-out meals in order to allow the group to eat outside or in a location where additional social distancing is possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

What will flying be like?

If you are flying to your destination, each airline we work with has slightly different processes and protocols to respond to COVID-19. We recommend you check the website of your airline for the most up-to-date information. Airlines are deep cleaning between flights, some are reducing flight capacity, and some require passengers to wear face coverings while on board. Additionally, food service on the plane is either not available or pre-packaged, and so we recommend packing a meal and snacks, particularly if you are flying around a meal time.

You can read more from some of our top partners here:
• United
• Delta
• American
• Southwest

Will we need to wear masks?

Brightspark will provide disposable masks for our participants, as well as reusable masks for our staff. You will need to follow any local, state, or national guidelines. In addition, be prepared for airlines, venues, and cultural sites to have their own specific guidelines you must follow during your visit. When the group is on the bus or outside in open public areas, you may be able to make a group decision about wearing masks.

For performing arts groups (playing musical instruments or singing), we're actively monitoring discussions in the scientific and music education communities to develop options that are appropriate for your ensemble.

What would happen if a student has COVID-19 symptoms while on tour?

If a participant feels ill with symptoms of COVID-19 (which include fever, chills/aches, shortness of breath, coughing), our team will immediately facilitate movement of the participant to a location where they can safely be separated from others. We will simultaneously engage our Doctors on Call or a local medical facility to consult on the next steps, testing, and treatment. We would then, as required:

• Establish and coordinate communication with the participant and the family
• Facilitate transportation for the participant to a local medical facility
• Coordinate quarantine arrangements for the participant, in consultation with local health authorities
• Arrange for transportation for a family member to join the ill traveler
• Provide guidance to the group to reduce the risk of additional exposure and coordinate testing

Brightspark Travel will provide the resources necessary to facilitate the recommended treatment, including an isolated, chaperoned location for the participant to recover and arrangements for a new itinerary to return home.

Will we get our temperature checked?

For the time being, we will ask each Group Leader to facilitate temperature checks each morning to ensure that all participants are feeling well. You may also encounter temperature checks at the airport and at certain sites prior to entry.

How will our group dynamics be impacted?

We may make adjustments to reduce each individual's daily exposure to other people and allow more flexibility in meeting COVID-19-related requirements. This could include changes to keep groups from mixing or adjusting the size of a group (i.e., 7th and 8th grade classes may be kept in separate touring groups rather than mingling during sightseeing activities). These changes will be made on a case-by-case basis and communicated in advance.

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Brightspark's Promise to You

If a member of your group is diagnosed with COVID-19 while on a Brightspark tour, we will be by your side every step of the way, from helping secure the necessary care to covering the costs associated with quarantine. We need your help, too. We ask all participants to commit to care for your fellow travelers by acknowledging any symptoms you may be experiencing prior to travel. If you are sick, please stay home.

 

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  • Doctors on Call

    As part of WorldStrides, we have access to an exclusive partnership with The George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine. We leverage this unique program to connect travelers to doctors for phone consultations or treatment recommendations.

    Learn More
  • Refund Guarantee Protection

    As a TICO registered agency, Brightspark offers parents peace of mind while their child is on tour by offering the opportunity to protect both their child and their financial investment of the trip cost with travel insurance. 

    Learn More