Highlands Biological Station is open to visitors. Masks are still required in the Nature Center, but are no longer required on campus, including the Botanical Garden. Highlands Biological Station is offering academic and public programming this summer. For the safety of the HBS summer community, before being permitted to work or study at HBS prospective summer students, teaching faculty, and researchers must provide documentation of (1) having received a Covid-19 vaccine or (2) a negative Covid-19 test taken within 3 days of planned arrival.

Summer Camp & COVID 2021

Highlands Nature Center takes the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, very seriously. We have strong steps in place to provide the healthiest possible environment for all our campers and staff. Our rule is respect: respect yourself, respect others, and respect nature. Please understand, if campers are unable to abide by this safety protocol, they will not be allowed to attend our camps.

We will continue to monitor guidance from the CDC and make decisions based on what is best for our community. Thank you for helping keep our community healthy. If you have any questions or concerns, please send us an email or call us at (828) 526-2623. Special thanks to Piedmont Wildlife Center for sharing these policies and procedures with us.


Staff and children in the following categories may NOT participate in camp programs: 

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Under orders to quarantine related to COVID-19
  • Showing any symptoms related to COVID-19: 
    • Fever of 100 or greater
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Vomiting or diarrhea, 
    • Chills
  • Living in the same household as, or providing care in a non-healthcare setting (such as home) for a person, with symptomatic lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection or showing any symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • Close contact with a person with symptomatic lab-confirmed COVID-19 or showing any symptoms related to COVID-19.
  • Parents are asked to provide their children with properly-fitted masks (No BUFFs or Neck Gaiters) and sanitation products. Communal soap and hand sanitizer will be supplied, but we want to minimize the use of shared products.


All staff and campers must complete the Daily Screening Assessment each day prior to entering the program.


  1. Do you, or any of the children you are dropping off, have a fever*, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chills, new loss of taste or smell (vomiting or diarrhea, children only)? 
  2. Have you, or any of the children you are dropping off:
    • Had any of these symptoms since last time you were last here? 
    • Been tested for COVID-19?
    • Potentially been exposed** to COVID-19 or have reason to believe you/they have COVID-19? 
  3. Temperature is checked and recorded.

*Fever is determined by a thermometer reading 100.4 or higher or by subjective signs such as flushed cheeks, fatigue, extreme fussiness, chills, shivering, sweating, achiness, headache, not eating or drinking.

**Exposure is sharing a household or having close contact with anyone with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19.


  • Exact protocol may vary by camp location, but all parents will remain in their cars during the check-in process while they answer the daily screening assessment and camper temperatures are taken.
  • Campers and staff will wash hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the program.
  • Parents dropping off late need to remain in their car and call the Nature Center if they do not see any check-in staff outside. Do not get out of your car.


  • If parents are picking up early they must notify the camp using the Highlands Nature Center number.
  • Please have your child(ren)’s name clearly printed on a piece of paper placed on your dashboard and visible to camp staff
  • A staff member will check the parent’s ID through the car window and sign out the camper on the clipboard after receiving verbal consent from the parent.
  • Parents should remain in their vehicle and their child will be guided to them.  
  • If parents don’t see any staff outside, they should call the Highlands Nature Center instead of leaving their vehicle.  


  • Campers and staff will be asked to bring their own cloth masks. For the foreseeable future, staff and campers will be required to wear masks at all times during our programming. Masks can be removed at the instruction of the staff for certain events including lunch, snack, and other socially distant activities. All campers and staff will be expected to maintain a minimum of six feet distance when not wearing a mask.
    • Please note: We do not allow BUFFs or Neck Gaiters to be used as masks.
  • All activities will be done outdoors.
    • Send your kids to camp prepared to be outside during light rain. If severe inclement weather is on the forecast, we will have to move indoors. The Highlands Biological Station has sufficient indoor space to physically distance, and all appropriate precautions will be taken.
  • As much as possible, we will avoid activities that require campers and staff to touch hands or be in close contact with one another. Campers will be encouraged to maintain spacing between themselves. 
  • Staff will enforce increased hand washing and sanitizing throughout the day – before and after eating, using the restroom, and after each program activity.
  • Program equipment, facilities, and frequently touched surfaces will be cleaned/sanitized after each group’s use. 
  • Staff and campers will bring their own lunch and snacks from home. Parents must send food that does not require refrigeration. No food sharing between campers will be permitted.
  • If a camper shows signs/symptoms of COVID-19 during the day at camp, their parent/guardian will be contacted. The camper will be monitored and isolated until the parent/guardian can pick them up.


  • If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 among campers or staff participating in the camp program, camper families will be notified by the camp.
    • We will coordinate with our local health department to determine a plan of action.


  • We will issue full refunds in the event of a cancellation due to the pandemic’s development or COVID-19 exposure on the part of the Highlands Nature Center, Western Carolina University, or a camper.

Please email paige@highlandsbiological.org or call the Highlands Nature Center at (828) 526-2623 if you have any questions.