What a year 2020 has been so far! Covid-19 has affected everyone so drastically and the face of education and travel has changed dramatically.
Our program locations and itineraries have been carefully selected and modified to minimize risk of exposure to anyone outside the group with most being located in rural areas. This allows for a more focused learning environment, as well as a safe haven from the stress of our modern world. We've been working hard and watching closely to any CDC recommendations about group sizes, travel restrictions, and testing requirements to come up with options that will allow you to have a safe, healthy, and stress-free Gap Year experience. We do the hard work so you can come and enjoy the fresh air, adventures, and new friends!
Check out the information below to find out more about our Covid-19 policies, procedures and updates.
Education & Engagement First
Here at Pacific Discovery, we wanted to assure you that our concerns for safety align with yours. With our 19 years of operation and more than 100,000 student days in the field, we have an excellent safety record. We have had our safety management systems assessed and accredited by the Gap Year Association, the Year Out Group(UK) and OutdoorsMark (New Zealand). Assessors have commented that our systems are among the best they have observed.
Experiential Educator Led & Supervised
Our programs are led by experienced experiential educators as instructors, equipped with comprehensive and expert risk assessments and safety management systems. All program participants are subjected to a high degree of screening prior to acceptance and consent to strict behavior guidelines for the duration of the program.
Informed & Expert Led Safety Systems
Alongside our long standing safety procedures we have been working closely with health care professionals, abiding by CDC guidelines and the advice of authorities in regards to where you are ok to travel to and where there are restrictions. All of our students enrolled in our programs are required to undergo strict pre-departure preparation and are required to return a negative result from a FDA-approved PCR test from a CLIA-certified laboratory within 72 hours prior to departure.
Ethical & Stringent Measures
Upon arrival all students and program instructors will be subject to mandatory quarantine at a registered accommodation facility. This is to ensure that we enter our programs with the highest level of confidence that we can, in order to travel and operate safely, and ethically within our program destinations.
Further to this, we have removed all inter island travel from our programs to minimise our risk of exposure and transmission. To mitigate the virus becoming present within our program groups, students and instructors will participate in ongoing testing, and stringent community distancing. Eliminating or minimising community interaction where physical distancing is not possible, is in-conjunction with our small group size of 8-12 students, and strict group supervision.
We strive to set the bar for best practice in the gap year and experiential education fields and ensure that all of our programs are held to the highest possible standards. Our management team is constantly monitoring and assessing the situation both in Hawaii and on the Mainland and consider the safety of our operators and students to be paramount.
Partnerships at the Community level
Finally, we have been working at the grass root level with communities for almost 20 years. Our partners are almost exclusively small community based, family owned and operated businesses and community groups. We build strong relationships, seek to be invited to collaborate, follow our partners advice and align ourselves to the local communities expectations for mutual benefit and success.
A snapshot of our general COVID policy and procedures is below:
Our full COVID policy and procedures are available on request, for local authorities, established community groups and community leaders.
I would like to reiterate our commitment to our partner communities to collaborate in a controlled, safe and positive relationship, to achieve mutual, positive outcomes in these difficult times.
Our management team is constantly monitoring and assessing the global situation and consider the safety of our students to be paramount. With our 19 years of operation and more than 100,000 student days in the field, we have an excellent safety record.
Not to mention our programs are led by amazing experiential educators, equipped with comprehensive and expert risk assessments and safety management protocols. They are people in whom you can trust, who remain objective and supportive even in challenging circumstances, and who take a genuine interest in your well-being and safety. A bunch of legends, basically.
We do not confirm any of our programs until 60 days prior to departure. This is our process every year but is especially relevant now. Students sign up now and reserve their seat, but do not make any travel arrangements until the program is confirmed 60 days out. At that time we do a full check of our itinerary- we check everything from natural disasters, to political unrest, to Covid-19. We check with all of our local operators to get a local feel on the ground for everywhere we travel. Luckily we are an overland journey and enjoy the freedom to be flexible. We can adapt quite easily to avoid Covid-19 hot spots and can adapt our regulations to meet all local health and state requirements.
If for any reason we cannot adapt and must cancel the program entirely, you have 3 options.
We know you have lots of questions, so please see below for some FAQs our team is commonly being asked. We have tried to think of the many varied scenarios that might come up and questions you might have about what that means for you. The following conditions apply to customers placing a deposit on or after 15th July 2020.
2021 Program Cancellations:
If you decide to cancel your participation in a 2021 program, the following fees apply at the time (prior to departure) we receive written notice of your cancellation:
If you fail to join the program, join after its departure or leave prior to its completion, no refund will be given.
Students sent home early, or who choose to leave for any reason, including sickness, personal emergencies or injury, will be responsible for all medical costs, and travel costs related to their early departure.
Q1. What happens if, for reasons outside of our control related to COVID-19, Pacific Discovery decides to cancel a program before departure?
A1. You have a couple of options in this situation:
1. We can transfer you to another program running at the same time but to a different location
2. We could transfer you to a later program of your choice
3. We can give a refund based on the dates below
Anyone signed onto a program in these circumstances will be able to transfer the entirety of the amount paid to that date to another program up to two years from departure date without penalty. You are also able to get a refund, as per our standard terms and conditions, although we would certainly very much appreciate your support to look to travel at another date.
Q2. What happens if, for reasons outside of your control related to COVID-19, you can no longer take part in the program you have booked?
A2. If a few weeks out from program start date, you find that due to COVID-19* you can no longer join our program, you will be able to transfer the entirety of the amount paid to that date to another program up to two years from departure date without penalty.
* This includes when you or someone you look after is unwell, you are in quarantine, or travel restrictions disallow you to reach the travel location.
Q3. What happens if I decide to cancel my place once I have booked on before departure?
A3. If you decide to cancel your participation in a program, our flexible programming terms and conditions apply. Therefore, the following fees apply at the time (prior to departure) we receive written notice of your cancellation:
Q4. What happens if, for reasons outside of their control, Pacific Discovery decides to reroute or change the itinerary of my program?
A4. It is possible that a program itinerary may be subject to small changes, or an entire re-routing depending on the global situation. Our first priority is always student safety, secondly is meeting the educational and developmental goals of our programs. If we feel for any reason that the itinerary booked will not offer the highest level of health and safety or deliver a life changing experience for our students, we will be looking to offer alternative locations that deliver a similar yet better experience.
ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS?
As members of what we consider a global community, we hope that we can continue to support the people we work with in isolated regions, where our presence there brings business to locals, shared experiences, and joy.
We would love your continued support as we face the toughest time the travel industry has ever seen.
Updated 12 August 2020
Earlier this week, a university startup called U Experience featured in your headlines, with the intention of bringing 150 mainland students to the Park Shore hotel in Waikiki. Although they will not be moving forward with their Waikiki location, we understand how this could cause community unease and concern. We have been working with our partners for many months in preparation for our programs, are very experienced over many years in collaborating with local partners, and always strive to partner at the local community level. Our ethos, beliefs and practices are very, very different to what has been featured by U Experience. Every step of the way has been in communication with our community partners, and we hope you will take the time to consider our COVID updates, as below.
Updated Tuesday 28th July 2020
The world is now looking to recover and move forward again after the trail of disruption and loss from COVID-19. Some countries are ahead of others in terms of case numbers, some almost back to normality. We all look forward to the global picture improving soon.
The WHO’s executive director of the health emergencies programme, Dr Mike Ryan, has said on Monday 28 July 2020, that “We do believe that it is possible to identify and minimise the risk associated with international travel. Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume...”
It's important now that we listen closely to the advice of authorities in regards to where you are ok to travel to and where there are restrictions.