COVID-19 Risk Management FAQ

Check this page for the latest frequently asked questions on the COVID-19 pandemic.


There is no doubt that COVID-19 has impacted every single person in our world, bringing new perspectives and a new level of resilience along with it. We are proud to have successfully operated both international and domestic programs in 2022.

With our tested risk management framework, we confidently plan for operations in 2023, where the safety of students, staff and local communities remains our highest priority. We are committed to continuing our operations in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.

We anticipate being able to confirm a program is running at least 60 days prior to each session start date to allow for time to move forward with flight bookings and pre-departure requirements. This means most decisions will be made in Spring 2023.


Below, we’ve provided some responses to several frequently asked questions about GLA travel programs and how we intend to manage COVID-19 prevention and response in the field.

Please reach out to us with any questions that are not answered in the below FAQs.

Q: How is GLA responding to COVID-19?

A: For the last two summers, we are proud to share that we have delivered safe and successful programming.

We are continuing our regular consultations with our risk management team, in-country expert partners and a variety of global health experts and organizations including the WHO, CDC, and our partner in managing student health and safety, Cultural Insurance Services International. In addition, GLA remains in touch with peer organizations in order to share information and work collaboratively in the interest of our participants and partner communities.

Q: Does GLA require a Covid-19 vaccine to travel?

A: An up-to-date Covid-19 vaccination is strongly recommended, but not required by GLA to travel on our programs.

We closely monitor border guidelines and some destinations may require this vaccine, in which we will as well. Staying up to date with the Covid-19 vaccine is the best way to ensure your student has as smooth of an experience as possible.

*Be aware some destinations may require vaccination for entry into the country and this could change between the time of enrollment and departure. We will keep families apprised but also strongly advise you also monitor this and consider vaccination.

Q: What type of pre-departure requirements does GLA have?

A: If your destination requires an up to date Covid-19 Vaccine: you will be required to upload a current copy of your vaccination card which outlines name and dates of all doses, including boosters received.

Limited Exposure Before Departure: For all vaccinated travelers, we ask all families and staff to limit exposure and avoid non-essential contact outside of their immediate pod or family unit as best as possible 10 days prior to their program departure.  This is in preparation for their required pre-departure Covid-19 test and to avoid any exposures that could impact ability to attend the program.

Negative Covid-19 Test Taken Before Departure: At this time, GLA requires a negative viral test to be obtained and submitted prior to departure. We strongly suggest that families obtain a PCR or NAAT test taken no more than 3 days before departure; however, we will also accept an Antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure and ideally right before travel to the airport. *If taking an at-home antigen test we ask that student’s write their name and date of the test on the test itself and submit a photo. If the test was administered by a lab, the family will submit the test results as proof.

  • If you are vaccinated and have a breakthrough positive case 90 days before departure for your program, it is possible you may continue to test positive for future Covid-19 PCR tests. As such, per the CDC, we recommend you obtain a formal Documentation of Recovery. A Documentation of Recovery is a signed letter, on official letterhead that contains the name, address, and phone number of a licensed healthcare provider or public health official, stating that you have been cleared to end isolation and therefore can travel.
  • If you are traveling with documentation of recovery, you must present paper or electronic copies of your positive test result. A Documentation of Recovery is valid for 90 days after being cleared for Covid-19. If you are traveling on a Documentation of Recovery, your 90 day window must include the entire duration of your program.
  • You may submit this document to us in addition to your vaccine card, and you need to obtain a negative antigen test prior to departure.

Q: How and when will GLA decide which programs are running?

A: Deciding when, how, and where we will run programs is a dynamic process that includes numerous considerations. We have carefully crafted guidelines that we will use as part of our foundational decision-making process when determining when and where we will run programs:

  • Status of international travel. We will seek guidance from the U.S. State Department for travel restrictions and warnings as they apply to both our home country and the country of our program destination. All travel bans must be lifted, borders must be open, quarantine restrictions must be lifted and regularly scheduled flights must be available.
  • Status of the specific country and program destination. Each country is in a different phase of managing COVID-19; as such, we will evaluate each location individually. We will consider: health infrastructure utilization, availability and access; location and availability of COVID-19 tests for foreigners near the program site; the stability and well-being of the local community which we will be aiming to serve; group gathering restrictions in place; and our abilities to provide a safe and enriching program experience.
  • A specific program location may have unique logistics that allow for greater control precautions within a certain country. It is possible, for instance, that we may have a program that has 100% exclusivity in its lodging, transportation and designated activities, with limited or no interaction with the host community (animal & wildlife programs, for example). Our Local Partners on the ground will be a critical piece of this puzzle, as we will evaluate each location with their input. We will also consult trusted online resources for reliable data. We will not be able to operate programs in any locations where shelter-in-place restrictions are enacted.

Q: Will you consider the US State Department or CDC Travel Warnings to determine whether or not to run a program?

A: We are closely following the State Department travel warnings as they are issued. We follow the State Department because it takes the CDC travel warnings into consideration and the mass majority of our students are American.

Q: What if I enroll now, could my program get cancelled?

A: While we feel confident in our abilities to manage travel programs amidst the backdrop of an evolving structure, we still must adhere to border and travel restrictions which are outside of our control. Yes, it is possible that your program could get cancelled after you enroll for either operational risks or low enrollment. As such, your enrollment will be subject to our Terms and Conditions.

From us, you can expect honest and transparent communication around our decisions. We will do everything within our power to keep programs running, but will not compromise the safety of students, staff, or the local communities in which we serve at any time.

If your program does get cancelled, our Peace of Mind Policy will offer you a full lifetime credit that can apply to any program we offer (both in-person or virtually), which can be transferred to another family member or friend at any time.

Furthermore, your credit can be used with any of our sister organizations: Discover Corps, which operates family and adult travel programs, and Summer Springboard, which operates academic programs for teens on college campuses throughout the United States.

Q: What does the refund policy look like for 2023?

A: We invite you to read through our full refund policy here.

Q: What processes do you have in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 on your trips?

A: The safety of students, staff and local community members is our highest priority. While there is no single action that can remove the inherent risks of travel during this time, we have created an integrated risk management plan that aims to reduce the risks associated with travel during COVID. The program will operate in a pod-like structure that we are calling a “Travel Pod”. We will ask all families and staff to follow pre-departure requirements.

All students are required to wear a KN95 / N95 mask while enroute to their program. Once students arrive, they will continue wearing their mask for the first 3 days of the program. They will be provided a thorough orientation and will go through daily health checks with staff. Once the group arrives on the program students will be broken into smaller pods within the larger pod. A smaller ‘pod’ of students can be mask free when around each other (likely roommates, so they do not have to sleep with masks).

On Day 3, GLA will provide all students and staff with a thorough health check to confirm there are no symptoms. Once GLA confirms that the student group is symptom free, the smaller pods will be abolished and the entire group can be together mask free without having to adhere to physical distancing standards unless they are interacting with people outside of the Travel Pod and physically distancing standards cannot be maintained.

To keep with our Travel Pod structure,  the program will be crafted in a way that minimizes interaction with people outside of the group. Students and staff will wear masks when in areas that are not exclusively used by our group, or where a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained. Extra sanitation and cleaning procedures will be taken, including frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use.

Program Updates: It is likely that programs will look a little different than they have in the past or may have appeared in marketing. Itinerary changes may happen at any time either before the students arrive or during the program to support the safety of our group and the local community. Even with masks on, it is likely that direct interaction with youth and adults in communities we serve will be limited or nonexistent until the entire world has equitable access to an effective vaccine.

Q: What does fostering a ‘Travel Pod’ experience mean?

A: The Travel Pod concept refers to the entire group of students and full-time staff who will travel together while minimizing many of the risks typically associated with group travel by agreeing to follow health protocols both prior to departure and while on program. In order to return to providing travel programs for students, every single person has a role to play — this includes students and their entire families, staff and local partners.

In order to be part of the travel pod, all participants will follow the pre-departure requirements as outlined by GLA.

Q: Do I need to wear a mask on the program? What kind do I need to wear?

A: Yes students will wear masks while enroute to their program, and also during the program. While traveling to the program, we require all students to wear a KN95 or N95 mask. Once students arrive at their program, we strongly encourage them to continue wearing their KN95 / N95 masks, however, we will also accept surgical and cloth masks.

The CDC provides a great link for more information about what masks provide the most protection; you can read more here.

For daily activities, however, the mask that is most comfortable for the student to wear for all activities, is the most effective mask for daily usage. Upon arrival to the program, all students will be broken into smaller group pods for the first 3 days on the program. Each pod will wear masks when around each other when physical distancing measures cannot be maintained. They can remove masks when in their smaller pods only (during meals they eat together, will be roommates together, etc).

On day 3, staff will do a health check with all students. If everyone remains symptom free, the students will be allowed to remove their masks and interact with one another between pods.

Once masks are removed, all students and staff included in the Travel Pod will wear masks anytime they are interacting with anyone outside of the Travel Pod and physical distancing measures cannot be maintained. Students are asked to bring enough masks to last their entire trip. Keep in mind that if a positive test occurs on the program, we may initiative the entire group to put their masks back on for daily use. Cloth masks will not be washed on program, please plan accordingly.

Q: What happens if a student shows symptoms of COVID-19 while on a program?

A: We have created a robust set of guidelines to manage potential Covid-19 exposure on our programs. Before students arrive, we work to identify testing centers and a quarantine location should a student or group of students test positive. Daily symptom checks will help us to stay up-to-date on the well-being of any participants.

If a Covid-19-like symptom presents itself, this will enact Covid-19 management protocol, which includes further monitoring (pending the symptom), rapid testing, and potential quarantine / isolation, and continued health consultation as needed.

In the event of a positive test, we will follow isolation and quarantine protocols as listed by the health ministry of the country the program is operating in. In the absence of guidance by a local health ministry, we plan to follow guidelines as posted by the CDC for quarantine and isolation guidelines.

We ask that all students bring two rapid antigen at-home Covid-19 tests with them to their program; this is included in all packing lists. These tests will only be used if a student is symptomatic. If a student has a positive rapid test result, we will seek an additional test from a pre-identified testing facility as a next step.

Q: What if my student tests positive for COVID while on the program?

A: If a student tests positive for Covid-19 while on the program, we will enact Covid-19 management protocol. Student(s) will immediately go into isolation from the rest of the group and be moved to a different room at the existing Home Base, a Home Base nearby, or the hospital, pending their situation. Wherever they are placed, staff will be on-site and available to support them in their care. Students will never be left alone while on a program, however while in quarantine they may be alone in their room. If several students test positive, they may isolate together *pending consultation with our Medical Director and Local Health Agency for guidance*.

For our programs in the USA, we kindly request parents / guardians to come retrieve and care for their students during any necessitated quarantine if a positive test occurs. However, if a parent or guardian is unable to do so, we will enact the Covid-19 Surcharge to provide care for them until they are cleared to return home.

As outlined in the waiver, the Covid-19 Surcharge is to cover quarantine or isolation support costs. If enacted we will aim to be as reasonable as possible with these costs.

For international programs, GLA insurance covers up to $1000 in expenses related to quarantine as a result of a positive Covid-19 test. However ,in most cases and locations, a 7-10 day quarantine might have a surcharge that is slightly higher than the covered amount.

As such, we highly recommend Travel Insurance with coverage cancellations including for Covid-19 Trip Disruption (Quarantine / Isolation) coverages.

Q: What if my child gets COVID and needs to go to the hospital?

A: We monitor all students’ general well-being through daily health checks. The choice to take a student to the hospital will vary pending the individual student and the specific symptoms they are showing. We work closely with parents, our medical consultant and medical insurance to take swift and appropriate action. If a student must go to the hospital for care or for general testing, they will always be accompanied by a staff member and supported every step of the way.

Q: What if I test positive for my pre-departure COVID test or I simply do not feel comfortable traveling due to a local outbreak in my hometown or that the destination is no longer “safe”?

A: We ask all families and staff to limit exposure and avoid non-essential contact outside of their immediate pod or family unit as best as possible 10 days prior to their program departure, in preparation for their required Covid-19 pre-departure test.

To add an additional layer of certainty in your investment, we highly recommend Travel Insurance with coverage cancellations including for Covid-19 Trip Disruption (Quarantine / Isolation), or ideally, a Cancel For Any Reason coverage option. If reimbursement is not claimed from your travel insurance policy, upon proper verification, a credit of the full tuition amount will be honored for future participation.

Learn more about our Peace of Mind Commitment here.

Q: How do I get my COVID-19 test and what do I do with the results?

A: To find a Covid-19 testing center near you, you can start by contacting your state or local health department or your primary care provider. At this time, GLA requires a negative viral test to be obtained and submitted prior to departure. Once you obtain a negative test result, following the timeframe specified for your particular test type, you will print a copy of it to keep in your passport and also submit a copy to GLA prior to your departure. We strongly suggest that families obtain a PCR or NAAT test taken no more than 3 days before departure; however, we will also accept an Antigen test taken within 24 hours of departure and ideally right before travel to the airport.

These results should be submitted directly to GLA via the text option provided before departure.

  • If taking an at-home antigen test we ask that student’s write their name and date of the test on the test itself and submit a photo. If the test was administered by a lab, the family will submit the test results as proof.

Q: Who is responsible for these COVID test logistics and costs?

A: Prior to the program, the family will be responsible to obtain the correct test, receive results in the timeframe and provide proof to GLA and the airlines.

If a student needs to obtain a Covid-19 test from a facility at any point in the program, the family will be responsible for covering that cost directly. We strongly recommend all students travel with a $200 cash emergency fund in the event this is necessary during your program.

Q: I have a COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still need to get a COVID-19 test to come on the program?

A: Yes, GLA requires all travelers to provide a negative test result prior to departure to the program.

Q: How can activities (volunteering, ziplining, etc.) continue given the current COVID recommendations?

A: GLA programs will look similar to life as we know it everywhere. Physical distancing measures will be enacted, masks will be worn when distancing measures cannot be met or maintained, and frequent sanitizing and handwashing will take place. If we apply this to any and all activities on our programs, we can start to get a sense of what is and is not possible. We will be evaluating every activity against our COVID Guidelines to ensure it meets our standards. Ziplines, for instance, can take place if all parties are taking appropriate precautions.

If we find that an activity does not meet our standards, we will switch it out for a more appropriate activity. As such, it is likely that your itinerary will change as standards and risks levels evolve. We will always do our best to communicate these changes to you so that you can prepare accordingly.

Q: What if my top program choices do not get enough students? 

A: Given the uncertainty of this year, we are not able to guarantee a session to run until it has met the minimum number of students. For group dynamic and infrastructure reasons, most sessions need a minimum of 8 students to run, though that number does vary by program site. As such, it is likely that we will have to consolidate some session dates to have enough students to run the program. If your selected program session does not get enough students, we will support you to find another session that is more likely to run, or already guaranteed to run, that you can move to. If none of them meet your needs, we are happy to work with you to find a solution that fits your needs.

Q: What will communication be like with Global Leadership Adventures?

A: The need for all parties to remain flexible is more important than ever. To that end, we are committed to transparent and open communication with you before, during, and after your program experience. We will continuously update you about your program, as situations involving COVID-19 evolve. This includes any updates to your itinerary or other changes that may impact your experience, we are here to support you as you prepare for your travel.

Furthermore, while programs are running, we also have our 24/7 emergency line available to all families. If you have any questions, we invite you to reach out to us!