VACorps COVID 19 Safety Protocols

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The VACorps program has been open since January 2021 and hosted over 150 participants since the beginning of the pandemic. We have gained a great deal of experience running our programs in a post-COVID world, and have designed, implemented, and tested a number of COVID 19 health and safety protocols designed to keep our program participants, staff, and placement sites, and the general public safe.

UPDATE (June 23rd, 2022): The South African government has removed all COVID-19 rules and regulations. 

 

 

The following were the travel requirements up until June 23rd, 2022

Inbound Travel Requirements:

  • A negative COVID-19 PCR test not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin (government-mandated). This must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted the test.
  • Mandatory international travel health insurance that covers COVID-19 testing and medical care (government-mandated)
  • Mandatory face coverings throughout the journey (airport and airline mandated)
  • Regular sanitization of hands throughout the journey (airport and airline mandated)
  • Symptom screening upon arrival (government-mandated)
  • If a traveler is symptomatic upon arrival, they will be required to quarantine at their own expense (government-mandated).  Should this happen, VACorps will provide support throughout the quarantine period. 
  • All inbound travelers must download the South African COVID -19 tracing app (government-mandated)

Arrival:

  • Program participants will be picked up at the airport and transferred to program housing by a VACorps staff member in a private vehicle.

VACorps Orientation:

  • The VACorps orientation will be staggered according to arrival groups. See the VACorps calendar for recommended arrival dates.
  • Face coverings and regular sanitizing will be mandatory.
  • Orientation will include a thorough review of South Africa’s COVID-19 restrictions and protocols.
  • And a thorough review of VACorps COVID restrictions and protocols.

Introduction to your internship site:

  • Participants may start their internship after completing VACorps orientation. VACorps staff will inform you of the exact time and date during your arrival.
  • VACorps orientation must be completed before participants can start working at their internship sites.
  • The program participant will, together with a VACorps staff member and their site supervisor, review the site’s COVID protocols.
  • The site will review a plan for a remote experience in the event of an unexpected office closure due to COVID.

Transportation while living in Cape Town:

  • Participants are recommended to use Uber, VACorps private drivers, or rent a car to travel about the city.
  • Participants should always wear masks and keep the windows open while riding in vehicles.
  • Participants are strongly discouraged from using public transportation during the pandemic.

VACorps Program Housing (provided by Rent-a-Room):

  • Mandatory single room occupancy for all program participants.
  • Rent-a-room staff adheres to South African COVID guidelines at all times.
  • Strictly no parties or any other gatherings in program housing.
  • No “non-VACorps” visitors are allowed in program housing.
  • Free Wi-Fi is provided in houses in case program participants are required to work remotely.

If program participants are symptomatic and suspect they have COVID:

  • Mandatory withdrawal from onsite work until a negative test result can be shown.
  • Symptomatic program participants to undergo immediate PCR COVID testing.
  • Symptomatic program participants to self-isolate in their rooms until test results are available.

If program participants test positive for COVID: 

  • COVID Positive program participants who are symptomatic will be required to move to a quarantine room that will allow for isolation from other program participants. The South African guideline for isolation is 7 days.
  • VACorps will cover the cost of quarantine for all VACorps participants.
  • VACorps staff will conduct regular check-ins.
  • VACorps staff will supply the program participant with required groceries, medication, etc at the program participant’s own cost.
  • Should any program participants feel that they are in need of medical care or hospitalization, they will be transported to the ER at either Life Vincent Pallotti Private Hospital or Life Kingsbury Private Hospital and will be fully supported by VACorps staff for the duration of their stay in the hospital.
  • The program participant’s site will be immediately notified.
  • Program participants’ housemates and other close contacts will be notified and will be required to self-isolate and work remotely (if possible) for 7 days if symptomatic.
  • The participant may return to VACorps program housing after receiving a negative PCR test (7 days after a positive test result is the expected timeline).

If there is a COVID outbreak at a program participant’s internship site:

  • The program participant will be required to withdraw from “in-person” site work, and continue remotely (if possible).
  •  The program participant will be required to self-isolate at home for 7 days.
  • Participants will only be able to return to work when it is safe to do so as determined by the internship site’s COVID-19 protocols.

Lockdown Support:

  • In the event that South Africa returns to any level of lockdown, VACorps will continue to support program participants in the usual manner.
  • VACorps is classified as an “essential services business” and is legally allowed to continue operations even in the strictest of lockdowns. (NOTE: On the 7th of January, 2021, the South African government announced that there will be no further “hard lockdowns” due to the economic impact of shelter-in-place style lockdowns.)
  • VACorps will assist program participants with the reservation and boarding of repatriation flights if necessary.

Departure:

  • VACorps will arrange an airport transfer in a private vehicle (Uber).
  • VACorps will assist the program participant with the pre-departure PCR or Antigen test if it is required. Note that all labs in Cape Town are able to return a PCR result within 24 hours as per the departure requirement of those traveling home to the USA.
  • In the event a participant tests positive during a departure PCR test, the VACorps team will assist with quarantine and ongoing support as per our “If Program Participants Test Positive for COVID” protocols.