SCA COVID-19 Policies and Procedures

SCA member with mask on in bushes

This page was updated on Tuesday, October 26, 2021.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, the safety of SCA members and staff has been paramount in our organization’s response and decision-making. As the pandemic continues to evolve and unfold, the SCA strives to update our management strategy with an effective and relevant approach.

We aim to align our approach to COVID-19 with public health guidance and regulation, including from the CDC, OSHA, state, and local guidance. Our policy and protocol framework are further informed by our SCA’s medical advisor and SCA’s dedicated Safety and Risk Management Department.

In Collaboration: A shared responsibility

Mitigating the risks associated with COVID-19 is a shared responsibility between the SCA, our partner organizations and agencies, and the members who participate in our programs. In providing the safest and most equitable position experiences we can, we ask for mutual cooperation, collaboration, and communication among these groups to help protect members, staff, and the local communities in which we serve.

Four SCA members with masks posing outside

SCA’s COVID-19 Best Management Practices

Throughout all programs, positions, and settings, SCA’s approach to COVID-19 is underpinned by five best management strategies:

  • Informational such as acknowledgement and planning for inherent risks, regular symptoms checks, testing for screening purposes, determining vaccination rates, and informing others of potential pathways to exposure;
  • Behavioral & Structural such as physical distancing and cohorting practices;
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masking practices in accordance with federal guidance and accommodations for safety critical work;
  • Sanitation & Disinfection such as regular and frequent handwashing or sanitation, cleaning practices for high touch tools, objects, and surfaces, and PPE;
  • Environmental such as promoting remote work alternatives, outdoor operations, and indoor meetings in well ventilated spaces.

SCA’s policy framework includes recognition that local context varies. The best management strategies serve as guiding principles, which are applied local program level as policy and practice. Partner work and living context may also vary, and further influence work and practice at the local level. SCA’s national COVID-19 Management Plan is continually reviewed, assessed, and updated as conditions, knowledge, and guidance evolves.

Vaccination and Testing Policy

***Beginning December 8, 2021, all new members are required to provide proof of vaccination or apply for medical/religious exemption***

SCA’s vaccination and testing strategy aligns with federal OSHA and CDC guidance, and recognizes the varied settings that SCA positions operate, including backcountry, public, and urban settings. Additionally, each position’s policy may vary in accordance with partner organization regulation and policy.

Prior to each position, SCA asks for proof of vaccination, or requires testing upon entry. Members who do not provide proof of vaccination are required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test 3-5 days prior to a new position’s start:

Individually Placed Positions: Test prior to a new position

Team-based Position: Test prior and test 3-5 days after a new position starts

*Additional, regular testing requirements may be applied under some circumstances, as dictated by partner agency policy, governmental regulation, or local program policy.

**Some positions may require proof of vaccination in order to serve, in accordance to partner policy and governmental regulation.

Proof of Recovery

Additionally, personnel who recovered from COVID-19 within the previous 90 days may falsely test positive. To forgo any testing requirement, Proof of Recovery is required. Proof includes a positive test from the previous 90 days, indication that SCA’s criteria to discontinue isolation has been met, and letter from a healthcare provider or public health authority.

SCA members waring masks carrying tree limbs

Preparing for Your SCA Position

Arriving well rested, nourished, and hydrated is a key component to maintaining health during a new position’s start. SCA asks members and staff to self-monitor and disclose any COVID-19 symptoms during the 14-day period before traveling to or starting a new position. Members and staff who have had recent close contact to someone with COVID-19 or present with COVID symptoms will delay travel to and position start. Additionally, avoid close contact with others during this period, and disclose any direct exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Before a new position starts, members are required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovery, disclose any symptoms or recent exposures, and review and agree to a pre-program participant form. Following these steps are crucial to helping ensure the safest position start as reasonably possible.

COVID Response Protocol

SCA’s COVID-19 response protocol is informed by CDC guidance under the direction of our medical advisor. SCA’s criteria to discontinue isolation will be met prior to any new position start, return from holiday or leave, or position resumption following a confirmed case of COVID-19:

  • A minim of 10 days since a test was conducted for symptoms first appeared, and
  • 24 hours serious symptoms subside, such as vomiting, troubled breathing, and/or fever (without the use of fever-reducing medications), and
  • All other symptoms improve (loss of taste/smell may persist and need not delay the end of isolation).

In the event personnel are exposed and in close contact to someone with confirmed COVID-19, or report the presence of symptoms and COVID-19 is suspected, CDC guidelines are followed. When possible and indicated, personnel will be required to test before returning to service or to be around others. Additionally, groups may enact more strict masking protocols, such as masking in living or vehicle situations.