PATC Response Plan and Guidance for COVID-19 Pandemic


Effective March 16, 2020
Last updated: July 29, 2020


PATC is committed to keeping everyone (including the general public, employees, volunteers, hikers and partners) as safe and healthy as possible through this very unsettled time. While we cannot predict how this pandemic will evolve within our community, we need to take precautions to do our part to keep our people safe and protect the public. Therefore, we have developed the following guidelines to remain in force until further notice. These guidelines apply to all PATC-sponsored activities, including those undertaken by Chapters and Special Interest Sections. For any authorized activities, we urge everyone to practice enhanced attention to disinfection and social distancing protocols.

As the situation unfolds, these directives will be continually monitored and adjusted, as required. We also suggest you monitor federal, state and local notices related to COVID-19. While we cannot list all those here, we are providing you the link to the Centers for Disease Control’s website on the virus: CDC Guidelines.

General Guidelines

Any staff or volunteers who have reason to believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 irrespective of whether they show any symptoms (this includes all those who return from international travel) or have any COVID-19 or other flu or common cold symptoms should not participate for a period of 14 days in any of the in-person authorized PATC activities or programs, or enter any PATC facilities, including cabins, shelters, trail centers or our headquarters building.

Those responsible for the operations included in this guidance may develop specific protocols as supplemental guidance, as needed. That supplemental guidance should be approved by the V.P. of Operations, who has general responsibility for operational and programmatic policy, before being issued. The general guidelines for each of the Club’s major programs and operations follow:

Trails and Shelters

  • As PATC does not own most of the trails and shelters, they remain open unless the authorities or owners decide to close them. Those considering use of a trail are encouraged to use great care--avoid crowds on the trail and at the trailhead, and maintain social distance. [update 4/6/2020] Here is the club's position on urging government agencies to close trails.
  • [Updated 7/29/2020] Trail maintenance has resumed in most areas though a few land managers do not yet permit it. District managers should be aware of the situation.  Most shelter maintenance is still suspended.
  • [Updated 6/15/2020] The Supervisor of Trails has authorized exemptions to these guidelines with the concurrence with the V.P. for Operations.

Cabins

  • [Updated 7/29/2020] All cabins have now reopened for occupancy under special conditions. More information on the cabins webpage
  • The cabin reservation desk at headquarters is closed.
  • [Updated 6/15/2020] Cabin maintenance has resumed. Maintainers must follow the guidance of the Supervisor of Facilities if performing any authorized work.

Bears Den and Blackburn Trail Centers

  • [Updated 6/15/2020] The Bears Den Center remains closed but the parking lot is now open. Camping is available by reservation, under the Commonwealth of Virginia guidelines. The cabin at Bears Den has re-opened, as has the private room at Bears Den, which is available by reservation. Hiker services are limited to water and privy, and pizza and ice cream to-go are available. 
  • [Updated 6/15/2020] The Blackburn Trail Center building is still closed but the parking area is open for day hikers. Limited camping is possible, under the Commonwealth of Virginia guidelines. Hiker services are limited to water and respite. 
Club Store
  • [Updated 5/7/2020]  The Club store online has reopened. The Club store at headquarters remains closed. 
  • Volunteer activities related to the PATC store are suspended.
  • The Staff Director may authorize exemptions to these guidelines with the concurrence of the V.P. for Volunteerism.

Outreach

  • In-person outreach activities or participation in in-person outreach events are hereby suspended.
  • The Supervisor of Outreach may authorize exemptions to these guidelines with the concurrence of the V.P. for Volunteerism.

Hikes sponsored by the Club have resumed under limited circumstances. [Updated 5/7/2020]


Meetings

Effective immediately, in-person PATC-related meetings are discontinued. ExCom and Council regular or special meetings, as well as meetings of Chapters and Special Interest Sections, or other units of PATC will be scheduled and conducted using video conferencing or teleconferencing platforms. Participants may join either using their computers or smart phones, or by calling in on their telephone. Details and instructions will be provided prior to meetings. Meetings will be scheduled and arranged through the staff director at Administration@patc.net.

[Updated 5/7/2020]  The club's annual member meeting will be virtual and held on November 18. More about the annual meeting.

Headquarters

Effective Monday, March 16th, the PATC headquarters building in Vienna closed. Limited access for authorized staff or essential activities by Club members or volunteers will be arranged and scheduled on a case-by-case basis by contacting the staff director at Administration@patc.net.

Staff

Effective Monday, March 16th, we are instituting an organization-wide telecommuting policy for all staff. Staff should follow the general guidelines as stated above. The staff director will work with each employee to determine the feasibility of conducting most or all of their work remotely. If some work in the office is required, and staff is comfortable going into the office, we will arrange for staggered work time for individuals to work in the office to avoid simultaneous use of office space by more than one employee. Enhanced disinfection and cleaning protocol will be prescribed for all staff who use the HQ building.

It is expected that staff will continue to work their scheduled (or modified scheduled) hours. No staff will lose paid hours as a result of complying with these restrictions.

Staff who telecommute will report their hours as usual. If telecommuting is not feasible, administrative or sick leave may be authorized.

A reminder to staff: If you have any reason to believe you have a heightened probability of exposure to the COVID-19 virus – through travel to a known “hot spot,” close interactions with people who have come from these “hot spots,” or interactions in settings where subsequent diagnosis has occurred, please self-quarantine and notify the staff director. We will carefully balance individual privacy while ensuring organization-wide safety.