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Vermont Drops Full Guidelines For The COVID-19 Ski Season


With the start of the Vermont ski and snowboard season right around the corner, all of the fans of Green Mountain State skiing and snowboarding have been paying very close attention as to what each mountain and ski area will have to do to make for a safe season. Though many of the mountains and ski areas have already announced how they are going to operate for the COVID-19, or as we should think of it, the 2020/2021 season, Vermont officials have published a full set of guidelines that will need to be followed.

As one may have guessed, mountains that have announced their operation plans are playing very close to the mark when it comes to the state guidelines. So, we have all heard of most of these guidelines already. As we know, mountains and ski areas will need to keep capacities lower, provide for as much distancing as possible, including touchless services when possible, will have to enforce mask regulations and be ever diligent when it comes to contact tracing. All this is pretty familiar stuff already as it concerns the guests, which most people will be.

However, the Vermont guidelines also take into account those working for the mountains and the ski areas. Again, since many of these guidelines are being followed for other industries and places of business, most folks are aware that employees will have to have daily screenings for COVID-19 exposure, will be asked to leave or stay home if feeling ill or exhibiting symptoms, as well as being trained on the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and sanitization of the place of business, which some folks already are.

The interesting specifics of the the published guidelines are those that pertain to out-of-state employees, contractors, and  ski school/children's programs, which is likely to affect school's winter activities programs during the coming season. Though these guidelines are very similar to those of other employees and mountain operations, one might find something a little different in those, which are as follows:

Out-of-State Staffing
  • Resorts shall reduce the number of employees and volunteers who come to Vermont for weekend work – such as ski patrol, ski instructors and other work. They must operate with the minimum out-of-state staff necessary to safely operate the resort.
  • The state’s existing travel guidance does not require quarantine for those traveling for work – however, relying on a large number of out-of-state workers who travel from areas with a high incidence of COVID-19 poses additional risk that could inversely impact a resort’s ability to operate.
  • When out-of-state staff who have not quarantined do come to Vermont to work, the state’s travel policy only allows them to participate in work related activities without quarantining. When not conducting work, they should reduce social contacts and avoid crowds
Health Monitoring Policy for Contractors
  • Contractors will be provided ski area COVID Response Plan detailing personal hygiene, self-health checks, PPE and physical distancing policies prior to arrival and again upon arrival.
  • Mandatory daily self-health check: Safety/Health officer documents, daily, for contractors while working on site. 
  • Safety/Health officer to document reported illnesses for contact tracing and assess general contractor compliance.
  • Contractors must follow all PPE and protocols for employees including ACCD, VDH and VOSHA requirements, and pass daily health screening.
  • Contractors must take online VOSHA training and provide host ski area with the certificate of completion for each worker to be kept on file.
  • Ski area will keep a 30-day log of all contractors working or staying at the ski area with contact information for possible contact tracing. 
Out-of-state contractors performing currently authorized work: 
  • Prior to arrival, ski area provides contractor with letter stating the work they will be doing and the dates; Contractor asked to keep it with them when traveling. 
  • Host ski area to document each contractor/worker’s daily health self-certification; form that the contractor completes and signs each day that is kept on file. 
  • Contractor must complete host ski area training regarding health self-certifications and work protocols 
  • Contractors should be encouraged to get tested at one of the pop-up testing sites (not mandatory)
Contractors must self-certify upon arrival by answering contractor screening questions: 
  • In the past 14 days have you had close contact with a person confirmed to have COVID19? 
  • Today, or in the past 24 hours have you had any of the following symptoms? 
    • Fever (>100.4°F or greater) or chills 
    • Cough 
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing 
    • Fatigue 
    • Muscle or body aches 
    • Headache 
    • New loss of Taste or Smell 
    • Sore throat 
    • Congestion or runny nose 
    • Nausea or vomiting 
    • Diarrhea
Ski School/Children's Programs
  • Programs must follow the State of Vermont’s Childcare and Out-of-School-CareGuidance. If outdoor temperatures inhibit the functionality of thermometers, programs shall ask customers to check their own temperatures before arriving. 
  • Encourage use of online reservation processes 
  • Collect contact tracing information 
  • Conduct staff training on touchless teaching techniques 
  • Utilize tactics such as staggered start / end times and dispersed line ups to help guests and staff to physically distance as recommended 
  • Limit group class sizes to allow for physical distancing 
  • Offer lesson/experience products tailored to individual family groups 
  • Utilize non-traditional spaces such as utility buildings and storage spaces or available lodging units for warm up breaks due to capacity restrictions in lodge facilities 
  • Consult guidance from the Professional Ski Instructors Association and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA/AASI)
As you can see, even these specific areas have very similar guidelines to those we have been reading or hearing about since talk of the next season began.

All of the guidelines are fairly straightforward and are set up to protect both guests and employees. When visiting a ski area or resort, please make sure to check with your intended destination before you arrive. It will be easier on everyone if each guest knows all of the policies and guidelines. Also, if you are planning on working or skiing & riding in Vermont this season, please check out the full publication on the state's guidelines for winter operations by following the link below.

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Photo: Mount Snow, West Dover, VT - Credit: Mount Snow, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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