COVID-19 AND DIVING
SIMON MITCHELL ON COVID-19
Simon Mitchell is currently one of the leading decompression researchers and speakers in the field. An active cave and tech diver from New Zealand, Simon is a physician specializing in occupational medicine, hyperbaric medicine, and anesthesiology.
The below video was filmed on 19 Sept 2020, the ~2 minutes from 57:06 to 58:20 is on-topic for COVID considerations for divers.
WET ROCKS DIVING PHILOSOPHY ON COVID-19
We’ve made many modifications to keep our students and instructors as safe as possible in these strange times. Safety is top priority and we are being more conservative with respect to COVID than most. We’ve modified procedures, require masks, have enhanced physical distancing, and are avoiding indoor classrooms. For those of you who don’t know North Florida, it is rural so it is possible to get some distance and avoid crowds with the right knowledge of sites and their traffic patterns. The dive center we use is in a county that requires mask use indoors.
Our instructors are taking the COVID risk very seriously. Our instructors are practicing strict social distancing and mask use both inside and outside of class time when around anyone we don’t live with, we are not gathering in social groups, and we are avoiding dine-in restaurants. We are looking for students with similar attitudes, diligence to hygiene, and similar perspective on the COVID situation.
We will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate week by week; if the data significantly changes or a massive spike in cases occurs again, we may need to make further adjustments. We implore all students to reduce their risk of exposure before and during class as much as possible by avoiding higher-risk behaviors, wearing masks, and social distancing. Do it for your TEAM!
Wet Rocks Diving COVID Policies and Forms
COVID CONDITIONS CHECK
If you are not comfortable with the current state of the virus, please contact us at Wet Rocks Diving. Safety is our #1 priority. Please remember that we still don’t know the long term effects of COVID; one’s ability to continue diving could be challenged if pulmonary or circulatory damage occurs. Anyone who has any possible symptoms within 60 days of class (or guided dives) or has been contact-traced/possible exposure within 40 days of class (or guided dives) should reschedule. If you have previously tested positive for COVID-19, please see your student profile at GUE.COM, “Statement of Understanding” for requirements to join class post-recovery. Guidees or coaching clients should refer to the Health Declaration and Statement of Understanding below.
There will be NO financial penalties for those who reschedule due to COVID symptoms/potential-contact or COVID concerns. Students who have rescheduled, even if a new date has not been selected, will be permitted and encouraged to do the online portions of the class while they wait for their class and thus will likely get MORE instruction and MORE value for their tuition. Rescheduled clients will be grandfathered on all 2020 professional fee pricing.
COVID PROCEDURES & WAIVER
Our COVID-19 procedures are below. You will be asked to acknowledge these policies as well as a risk acknowledgment and liability release with this waiver document on day 1 of your diving event. Please review these policies below and the document linked above now, but you do not need to print; we will have copies for you when you come to your diving event.
COVID-19 SAFETY INFORMATION & WET ROCKS DIVING COVID-19 PROCEDURES:
- If you have tested positive OR experience ANY symptoms (even minor) OR have had recent exposure to a COVID-positive or suspected COVID-positive individual, please do not attend or continue to attend your diving event. There will no financial penalties for deferring your diving event due to COVID. If you have already started your diving event, there will be no penalties for finishing your class or guided dives at a later date
- Our premise is that we must behave as if every student/guidee and instructor/guide may have the virus. No matter how careful one is, no method is 100% effective. Also, since pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic spread is possible with COVID, we must treat everyone as if they are contagious.
- Mask and hygiene policy
- Types of face-covering masks allowed/disallowed
- Properly fit, covering nose and mouth
- NO face-coverings with exhaust valves
- NO thin gaiters
- NO bandanas
- Masks required all times people closer than 15ft regardless if indoors or outside
- Even when masks are worn, a spacing of 6ft or greater should be maintained whenever possible
- Participants may choose to wear eye protection.
- Types of face-covering masks allowed/disallowed
- Frequent hand washing/sanitizing especially before/after:
- handling common equipment (analyzers, props etc)
- We will try to have hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and extra disposal face-covering masks available whenever possible. Suggest also bringing your own supply.
- Avoiding classrooms (air-conditioned/recirculated-air spaces)
- Be prepared to be outside all-day, with appropriate clothing
- Sun protection (although we will try to stay in the shade)
- Have enough drinking water
- Rental house common spaces
- Masks should be used
- Suggest bringing sanitizing wipes
- Transitioning to scuba gear
- Gearing up/down: ideally, each diver should be separated by 15-20ft when not wearing face coverings
- Pre-dive checks: separated, if not wear face coverings
- Walking to/from water: use of your regulator recommended
- Breathing from a SCUBA regulator (especially if your nose is blocked by a scuba mask) protects you, but DOES NOT protect those around you who may be breathing the ambient environment as scuba regulators DO NOT filter their exhaust.
- Please do not use spit to defog your mask. Please use commercial defog or baby shampoo, etc.
- Please refrain from spitting/blowing nose while in the water. This is especially important when diving the springs as fresh water does not kill the virus as quickly as salt or treated pool water.
- Surface policies: Either 15-20ft separation (preferred) or everyone but speaker breathes from regulator. Not using your regulator when close to others puts you (the speaker) at risk. All shall leave their scuba mask in place.
- No borrowing/sharing of equipment that goes in your mouth or on your face, unless a real underwater emergency
- Drills will be modified to that each diver is only using their own regulators and own masks unless a real underwater emergency
- Debriefs might be delayed until after de-kit and face coverings may again be worn.
- Biggest challenges are at water’s surface, when have gear on, and walking pathways/stairs to and from the water – CANNOT MITIGATE ALL RISKS!
HEALTH DECLARATION AND STATEMENT OF UNDERSTANDING – for guiding/coaching clients only
For Wet Rocks Diving guiding and coaching clients who have not completed a GUE Student Profile, you will be asked to complete a Health Declaration and Statement of Understanding prior to your participation in a diving event and will be asked to sign this document on day 1 of your diving event. Please review the document linked above now, but you do not need to print; we will have copies for you when you come to your diving event.