COVID-19 Safety Protocols at IMS
Our priority is to protect the wellbeing of everyone who comes to IMS. We follow local, state, and federal guidelines related to COVID-19 safety, and have also implemented additional safety protocols. Please monitor this page in advance of your retreat; information will change as conditions merit.
Here’s what we’re doing for your safety and ease:
- Operating in full compliance with CDC and Commonwealth of Massachusetts guidelines.
- All staff, teachers, and practitioners must be fully vaccinated and boosted (if eligible) for COVID-19 two weeks or more before arrival. Vaccines must be WHO or CDC approved.
- While on campus: Yogis and teachers are required to take a COVID rapid tests on arrival at IMS. A second rapid test will be provided for all participants on day three. (See more on testing during retreats, below.)
- Regular testing protocol for IMS staff.
- Upgraded HVAC systems increase airflow and filtration as recommended by professionals in COVID safety.
- Redesigned Shanti House bathrooms to support greater privacy and limit shared air flow between yogis.
- Increased safety measures for food service, including expanded outdoor and in-room dining options, more space between individuals in the dining hall, and the ability to serve lunch at the Retreat Center in staggered shifts.
- Suspension of some yogi jobs to reduce safety concerns. Optional opportunities for mindful service will be offered to support your practice.
- All accommodations remain single occupancy.
- Limiting dining room capacity at both the Retreat Center and the Forest Refuge.
- Hand sanitizing stations located across campus.
- Frequent deep cleaning and sanitizing across campus.
- Payment in full for retreats is required one week prior to arrival to reduce check-in time.
Doing your part—pre-arrival at IMS:
- Full COVID vaccination and booster are required (within 30 days of eligibility—anybody whose original covid vaccination was more than six months ago must have at least one booster). We will contact you prior to your retreat to tell you how to submit documentation of your vaccination. You do not need to send us your proof of vaccination now, but please do so when prompted as we need it prior to your arrival at IMS.
- Please take great care in the ten days before you travel to minimize your risk of exposure to the virus: avoid crowded events and use an effective mask (surgical or N95/KN95).
- Should you require a PCR test for your return travels, please note that we have been unable to find a convenient resource for you near Barre. The best way for you to get one might be directly at the airport, and you can make appointments in advance here.
Arrival in Barre—rapid testing and masking:
- Testing: When you arrive on campus, you will be asked to self-administer a COVID rapid test. IMS will provide these simple test kits for you at no charge, and someone will be available to support you in using them properly. On the third day of your retreat, a second rapid test will be provided for all participants. Teachers and staff will also participate in routine testing protocols. (The cost to IMS is $10 per test. If you are able and willing to help us cover this cost, thank you for your support! Donations can be made here.
- Masks: Indoor masking in all public spaces (including the meditation hall) is required until the second rapid tests are complete—usually on day three—and all are negative. At that point, indoor masking will be optional for all yogis and teachers. Staff will continue to wear masks in yogi spaces. If anyone tests positive in the second round of tests, masks will remain mandatory indoors for the duration of your retreat.
- Please note: IMS requires all yogis, teachers, and staff to use an effective mask (surgical or N95/KN95). Please bring one for each day of your retreat. Masking is not required outside.
During your retreat:
- Meditation hall: Until we complete the second round of rapid tests, masks will be required for all in the meditation hall, including the teaching team.
- Meals: You have dining space options! Small tables have been added to each dorm room so that you may elect to take your meals in your room, or-weather permitting-in any of several spaces outdoors. Limited dining spaces are available in the dining room.
- Dharma talks and morning instruction: Teachers will wear masks in the meditation hall until we complete the second round of rapid tests. At that point, masks will be optional for your teaching team.
- Chanting: As a COVID precaution, chanting as a group is currently not possible. However, some retreats might include one teacher chanting for the group.
- Meetings with the teachers will be mostly in small groups. Some retreats may offer one-to-one meetings. Masks and social distancing are required in these spaces.
- Affinity groups may be offered during your retreat, with social distancing and the wearing of masks.
In the event of COVID-19 illness
- If you test positive for COVID-19 on arrival, you will be unable to remain on campus; IMS does not have the ability or expertise to support you. For those of you who would need to be picked up or make travel arrangements-particularly those of you who flew to Massachusetts-we can accommodate your brief stay in quarantine accommodations separate from the active retreat container while you make plans to depart. Please consider this in advance so you can plan what you would do.
- If anyone tests positive for COVID-19 while on retreat, they will need to move to quarantine accommodations and make arrangements to leave campus. The teachers and other retreat participants would be informed that there was a positive test result. We would not cancel the retreat for the remaining participants but (depending on timing) would implement a fresh round of rapid tests and wellness monitoring.
Information will be updated as state and federal guidelines evolve.
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IMS remains committed to offering spiritual refuge for all who seek freedom. We will continue to offer transformative online retreats and other community events that connect and heal. Throughout this period, we will work diligently to find new ways to support you in your work and practice. And even as we offer help to all who suffer, we too may need help.
For now, we rest in gratitude for our community. May all find health and healing in the weeks and months to come, and comfort in the strength and resilience of our sangha.