ABOUT THE SERIES
Health, Safety, and Security
The health and safety of Series participants is always our top priority.
Experience Is Everything
The Honors Performance Series is a proud part of WorldStrides, a global leader in educational travel and experiences since 1967. We're additionally backed by the resources and knowledge of Envision, an organization that has spent more than 30 years educating high-aspiring elementary- to college-aged students through career, leadership, and technology programs.
When you participate in the Honors Performance Series, you can rest assured knowing our team has spent five decades establishing a network of support to safeguard you and your experience. We've encountered many unique (and sometimes unexpected) circumstances over the years, and we continue to refine our best practices for safety to fit the current environment, as well as the age and life stage of our participants. Our resources are comprehensive and our team is prepared. This painstaking work we do behind the scenes lets performers and their loved ones focus on what’s most important—learning and enjoying the experience at hand!
It's All in the Planning
WorldStrides' protocols for health and safety have evolved many times over 50-plus years in business, and they are evolving again today to fit the unique situation presented by the new coronavirus. We certainly recognize the uncertainty presented by this disease, and we are working to adapt in ways that can allow young people and their loved ones, now and into the future, to experience the inspiration and transformation that millions of students before them have experienced on our programs. Our Back to Travel Task Force, which includes representatives from the Honors Performance Series and overall WorldStrides team, is evaluating changes that are necessary and prudent for participant safety in this new environment.
The values that underpin our commitment to health and safety are unchanged – a dedication to scenario and contingency planning that relies on a large network of partners and a “do-what-it-takes” commitment to manage whatever the world hands out.
- Partnerships: Our team at WorldStrides works closely with organizations like WorldAware to stay up-to-the-minute on world events and can utilize their extensive resources to respond in a serious situation. Dr. Sikka, Chief of Innovative Practice at The George Washington University Department of Medicine, is also our team's Medical Director. Over several decades, WorldStrides has carefully selected and developed strong relationships with global hotel networks and other vendors that align with our safety standards. All of our vendors are vetted and typically very experienced in working with our team.
- Worldwide Network: WorldStrides has more than 70 offices worldwide to further enhance our on-site safety capabilities. Our local staff and local partnerships help to get real-time information that’s key to our planning and response.
- Insurance: WorldStrides has always invested in best-in-class medical, medical evacuation, and liability insurance that provides an extra layer of coverage for our participants.
Extensive Emergency Support
The Honors Performance Series is set up to support our participants 24 hours a day during their program.
- Tour Central: Our safety and security command center! WorldStrides' Tour Central offices in New York City and Washington, D.C. are staffed 24/7 by employees who are specially trained to handle any situation.
- Doctors on Call: Especially at a time in the world where health is of the utmost importance, we are proud of our exclusive partnership with The George Washington University Department of Emergency Medicine. In addition to protocols and training, this service provides Series participants access to doctors who can consult on your medical situation should the need arise. We also have mental health support just a phone call away.
- Adult Supervision: We provide supervision that’s perfectly tuned to the program's age level.
- For middle and high school participants, that includes music teachers and other trained professionals who we've hired and vetted to serve as Chaperones. These individuals oversee a group of approximately 15 students' physical and mental wellbeing, as well as supporting them musically, throughout the program. These age groups additionally benefit from the overnight supervision of our Night Chaperones, who watch the hallways at the Series hotel.
- For young adults, your Ensemble Coordinator will not only help run the rehearsals with your Conductor but is available as a resource to participants throughout the program.
- Program Desk: Our Program Desk staff is available at the Series hotel during daylight hours to support all program participants. These individuals are trained to answer all of your questions, and local guides provide an additional layer of knowledge about your host city. Whether it's providing a coffee shop recommendation or springing into action in an emergency—whatever you need, we’re there.
Meet Our Health and Safety Team Lead
We believe Health and Safety is a full-time job. Not just for one person, but for a team. Ours is led by Vice President Robin Reliford, who is solely focused on the job of keeping our participants safe. Backed by the resources of the entire organization, our Health and Safety Team is ready to spring into action with plans for situations large and small.
Additional Safety Measures
Our established track record for safety includes a number of elements that ensure a controlled environment and encourage a positive experience for all participants.
- Established Safety Plans: Our security plans are aligned with local and federal authorities, with whom we work directly in the case of any emergency. All staff members receive mandatory training on safety plans and procedures, and are available 24 hours a day in case of an emergency.
- Identification: Items such as name badges and wristbands are required for all participants throughout the program and help our staff visually identify program participants. They also include our 24-hour Tour Central phone number, so a participant has quick access to our team in case of emergency.
- Participant Behavior Contracts: We strive to promote a supportive and inclusive environment amongst all participants and staff. Prior to the program, all participants, whether they're students or Family Program participants, are expected to review and acknowledge the Series' behavior expectations. Program staff are trained in and expected to adhere to program policies and procedures.
A Team Approach to Our New Normal
WorldStrides assembled a cross-functional team we call our Back to Travel Task Force in early spring, and with their guidance made the difficult decision to cancel our summer 2020 programs. Our focus is now on planning for 2021, actively working to identify safety plans for the Honors Performance Series in a new world with coronavirus considerations.
The Back to Travel Task Force leverages decades of experience across our company to assess the safety of our host cities/venues, stay abreast of openings/closings, understand new protocols and regulations from our partners, and create trainings and detailed safety plans to manage the risk associated with COVID-19. The Back to Travel group is also informed by the CDC and WHO guidelines as well as the guidance of the team at The George Washington Department of Emergency Medicine, who staff our Doctors on Call program. We are also closely monitoring the evolving standards of the medical and music education communities, as well as the travel industry, and will continue to update our plans as new information on COVID-19 comes to light.
What Can I Expect in 2021?
While many of our plans are still evolving, you can expect the same incredible experienced staff and Conductors, engaging rehearsals and extracurricular activities, and the support of our global team when you join us in 2021 and beyond. Circumstances are constantly changing, so some of the protocols detailed below may change too. They will likely differ slightly from program to program and city to city, because we are committed to getting it right.
Here are some adaptations we're discussing to promote participant safety:
Hygiene: Depending on the timing/location of your program, we may provide you with disposable masks to help you meet requirements for face coverings during group activities, as appropriate. We'll take breaks for frequent hand washing and provide hand sanitizer, too.
At the Hotel: Our hotel partners are deep cleaning and modifying everything from check-in to the way you use the elevator. We're additionally evaluating hotel rooming to determine the most appropriate arrangements for all participants.
Safety Briefing: We're developing comprehensive COVID-specific training for our staff. Additionally, all participants will be briefed upon arrival on new safety protocols, developed in consultation with our medical director and the Back to Travel Task Force.
Adjusted Itineraries: We're constantly in touch with concert hall, motorcoach, and sightseeing partners to evaluate every aspect of our program itineraries and ensure we're accounting for new rules related to capacity management, social distancing, masks, and more.
Performance Guidelines: Guided by advice from our concert hall partners and the scientific and music education communities, we're working to determine how we can most safely host rehearsals and, of course, your life-changing performance.
On the Motorcoach: Our bus partners have new cleaning protocols and are establishing new guidelines, like loading and unloading procedures, to help keep drivers and participants safe during program activities that involve motorcoaches.
Our Promise to You
If a program participant is diagnosed with COVID-19 during the Honors Performance Series, we'll be there every step of the way, from helping to secure the necessary care to covering the costs associated with quarantine.
We need your help too. We'll be asking all participants to commit to caring for your fellow participants by acknowledging any symptoms you may be experiencing prior to the program. If you're sick, stay home.
Have Questions? We've got Answers.
Our team, in coordination with the WorldStrides Health and Safety Team, has been actively monitoring the impact that COVID-19 is having on the communities in which we operate programs as well as the CDC’s guidance for travel, events, and schools. This includes continuous communication with our many partners about changes and closures that may impact our ability to deliver enriching programs. Location-specific guidance from health officials, paired with more general guidance related to music, events, and travel, is helping us define guidelines that we can follow to help make our future programs as safe as possible.
The Series will provide disposable masks for our participants, as well as reusable masks for our staff, as appropriate based on the time and location of your program. You will need to follow any local, state, or national guidelines, and also follow any site-specific requirements for face coverings, including on the airplane and inside any cultural site or venue that requires a mask. As far as rehearsals and performing go, we're actively monitoring discussions in the scientific and music education communities to develop options that are appropriate for your program.
Potentially. Based on the timing/location of your program, it is possible that program Chaperones and staff will facilitate temperature checks each morning to ensure all participants are feeling well. There may also be temperature checks at the airport and at certain sites prior to entry.
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, while simultaneously engaging 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 participant, if needed
- Provide guidance to the group to reduce the risk of additional exposure and coordinate testing
The Series will provide the resources necessary to facilitate the recommended treatment, including an isolated, chaperoned location for the participant to recover and arrangements to return home at the appropriate time.
If you are flying to the program, you will find that each airline has slightly different processes and protocols to respond to COVID-19. We recommend you check the website of your chosen airline when booking, and prior to travel, for the most up-to-date information. Airlines are deep cleaning, and may be reducing the number of people on each plane, and requiring 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.
We are fortunate to work with a network of supportive and professional music teachers who serve as Chaperones for our middle and high school programs. Chaperone applicants are evaluated based on their musical background, experience working with students, and desire to help make this an unforgettable experience for participants. All Chaperones are thoroughly vetted and background checked. Families are introduced to their Chaperone ahead of time to ensure any pre-program questions are answered and everyone is prepared for a great experience.
Though you probably have insurance of your own, the Honors Performance Series includes additional medical, dental, and accident coverage to ensure you are fully covered during the program. We additionally offer an optional Travel Protection Plan underwritten by TripMate so you can protect your family's investment in case an emergency or illness causes you to cancel or disrupt your trip.
Family Program Participant
The Honors Performance Series is proudly presented and operated by WorldStrides.