Earthwatch requires proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for participation on all expeditions.
Our COVID-19 Response
Earthwatch’s experienced risk management team, in close partnership with our scientists and field staff, continues to develop, evaluate, and adjust our COVID-19 safety protocols in accordance with the most recent public health guidelines and travel advisories at both an international and local level.
In May of 2021, after many months of careful planning, risk and safety assessments, and field testing of our COVID safety protocols, we celebrated our official return to the field. Since then, we have been successfully fielding our U.S.-based expeditions that have been designated as “COVID Ready” (please see below for a detailed breakdown of what this designation entails). Starting in September of 2021, we will expand operations to include some of our non-U.S.-based expeditions. We will continue to maintain an up-to-date list of COVID Ready expeditions on this page.
*COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements: People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 more than 2 weeks after they have received all required doses of a vaccine that is currently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization (e.g. Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson/Janssen, or AstraZeneca/Oxford).
COVID Ready Expeditions & Field Team Status
COVID Ready enhanced safety measures are now available on select expeditions, which will expand on a rolling basis to include additional projects (see COVID Ready: Returning to the Field).
THE FOLLOWING EXPEDITIONS HAVE RECEIVED THE COVID READY DESIGNATION:
- Amazon Riverboat Exploration
- Climate Change: Sea to Trees at Acadia National Park
- Conserving Marine Life Along Catalina's Coast
- Conserving Threatened Rhinos in South Africa
- Conserving Wild Bees and Other Pollinators of Costa Rica
- Costa Rican Sea Turtles
- Cracking the Code: the Mysteries of Native Bees in Utah
- Marine Mammals and Predators in Costa Rica
- Sustaining Forests, Biodiversity, and Livelihoods on Washington's Olympic Peninsula
- Tracking Caterpillars in Tropical Forests (Costa Rica location only)
- Unearthing Ancient History in Tuscany
- Wildlife in the Changing Andorran Pyrenees
We will continue adding expeditions to this list in the coming weeks and months as we work with our many scientists and field staff around the world to adjust project logistics and adapt our risk management protocols to accommodate these new COVID safety standards. You can also filter by the term “COVID Ready” on our Expedition Search web page.
If you do not see a COVID Ready stamp on an expedition web page, then it means enhanced logistical and safety preparations are still in progress for that project. If you are already booked on a team, we will contact you directly when your expedition becomes COVID Ready, to let you know the next steps.
Volunteers can also get detailed, up-to-date travel information about any Earthwatch project destination by referring to our travel risk management partner, On Call International.
As of August 17, 2021, we have cancelled select teams fielding outside of the U.S. through the end of November.
Background on Earthwatch’s Decision Making Process
To date, Earthwatch’s decisions to cancel teams have been informed by health and travel guidance and advisories from trusted authorities such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, and the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as our independent security advisor, On Call International. In some cases, cancellation decisions also relate to ongoing research challenges, including the potential impacts of COVID-19 on wildlife, the closure of parks and reserves to the public, local resource limitations, and limitations on our PIs’ abilities to travel to their respective field sites.
We will continue to assess our ability to field on an ongoing basis. Strong risk management does not stop once we make a decision to field. We recognize circumstances can change. As we have all learned, the pandemic can change very quickly and we will respond appropriately as new information is available.
Through careful logistical planning, safety preparation, and close collaboration with our researchers, we have created a project qualification called “COVID Ready.”
To qualify as COVID Ready, an individual project must undergo a complete reassessment of logistics with the project staff and implement a number of specific safety measures. Please note that these measures are subject to change as and when conditions change or new information becomes available. Our COVID safety measures currently include (but are not limited to):
Small team sizes: Earthwatch already specializes in small group travel, but further logistical adjustments have been made, where necessary, to keep these teams small and easily distanced, yet effective.
Single accommodation options: We have adapted these programs to allow all volunteers to have single accommodations (with possibilities for rooming with members of your household).
Physical Distancing and Mask Use: Face masks will not be required outdoors, except when required by local regulations or requested by project staff. Physical distance of at least 6 feet will be maintained indoors whenever possible. When distancing is not possible or practical, face masks will be required.
Enhanced sanitation: Frequently touched surfaces and common areas will be cleaned routinely, and shared equipment will be handled with gloves and/or sanitized after each use. Handwashing and sanitizing will be part of everyday routine.
Pre-fielding screening: We will be in touch shortly before your team to go through a set of COVID screening questions, to clear you to join.
Daily Health Checks: All team members will monitor and report on their health status throughout the expedition.
Protecting local communities: To avoid posing additional risks to the communities where we work, interactions with local community members (outside of the research team staff) have been put on hold.
Vaccination Requirements:: Vaccination against COVID-19 is required for participation on all expeditions. Proof of vaccination will be collected from every participant booked on a COVID Ready team. Participants should also bring a copy of their proof of vaccination with them when traveling.
As always, Earthwatch is committed to using the same science-driven decision-making methods that we have always relied on to guide this important process. International risk management has been the cornerstone of Earthwatch's operations throughout our 50-year history. We are proud that our safety record has maintained the wellbeing of our volunteers and kept them informed, no matter where they have traveled. We are fully prepared to meet this same level of care and service through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.
More information on the increased safety responsibilities of Earthwatch, project staff, and volunteers can be found in our COVID Disclosure Form.
Because Earthwatch holds health and safety as a high priority for the field programs, your organization provides a gold standard for us to strive for, not just for our Earthwatch teams but for all groups that come to our campus for safe and inspiring experiences...We are so grateful for the time, thought, and effort you have put into your COVID-19 protocols and your site visit.
Sarah Hooper — Education Specialist, Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park