Bodhi Retreats-IMSB Measures to Prevent Spread of COVID

Updated July 30, 2022

Although government mandates have ended in most regions, new variants are still spreading, therefore, we are continuing to make efforts to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus at our retreats. Our measures may include but are not limited to requiring vaccination, mask wearing in-doors, social distancing, and testing prior to and during the retreat. The specific measures vary based on the retreat facility, available ventilation, number of participants, room size, and current rates of infection in the USA.

For the safety of everyone, all participants in our residential retreats are required to comply with the measures that we adopt. Adherence to our COVID measures is an act of compassion, care, and support for everyone at the retreat. We assure you that retreats can run smoothly and joyfully when there is compliance with measures to prevent the spread of illness.

Some people will welcome our measures with relief and appreciation, and some people may judge our measures as overly cautious or wearisome. It does not matter whether you believe that our measures are still necessary, whether you like or dislike them, or whether you find that they are more restrictive than current government requirements—we require your full compliance.

If you anticipate resisting any of our rules or are unwilling to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when indoors (including in the meditation hall), please do not attend our in-person events or residential retreats. Instead, consider attending one of Shaila’s online courses or retreats via zoom from the comfort of your home.

Shaila has taught more than a dozen residential retreats since the start of the pandemic, and she assures us that wearing masks does not prevent the cultivation of mindfulness or concentration. Masks do not disrupt the transmission of the dhamma. But resistance, obstinance, and attachment to views and opinions can harm the entire retreat. We hope our position and expectations are clear, and that the care we take together will inspire us to create a wonderful retreat experience.

The list of measures below will give you a good sense of what to expect at our residential retreats as you decide whether this retreat is suitable for you. The exact measures are subject to change and will be adjusted to suit the situation at each retreat.

  • It is most important that we make every effort to keep the coronavirus out of the retreat. If you get sick before the start of a program or have been exposed to someone with COVID even if you have tested negative for COVID, please contact our registrar and stay home. Do not attend the retreat if you have a cough, sore throat, or any symptoms like a mild cold or unusual fatigue.
  • Everyone is asked to take extra precautions in the ten days prior to the retreat and during travel to the retreat. Avoid large gatherings, wear a mask when in public including while traveling to the retreat, and avoid situations that are likely to expose you to disease.
  • We expect everyone to be considerate of one another’s health and safety and to report to a staff person immediately if cold symptoms occur or if feeling sick in any way during the retreat.
  • Teachers and students will be fully vaccinated for COVID and have received at least one booster. At most of our retreat centers we cannot control the vaccination status of center employees. Applicants with medical exceptions may contact our registrar for consideration. Participants will show their proof of vaccination when signing in.
  • All teachers and students will be required to show a negative COVID test taken no longer than three days before arriving at the retreat. Depending upon the retreat, we may require a PCR test or accept rapid antigen tests.
  • All participants are required to bring 5 rapid antigen tests to the retreat and will self-test at designated intervals, if symptoms arise, or if exposed to COVID.
  • In the summer of 2022, our process required at least 3 COVID tests: the first prior to arriving, the second on day 2 or 3, and the third on day 4 or 5. If everyone tests negative all three times, we may decide to make mask wearing optional in some areas of the facility or in the meditation hall (depending upon other factors such as ventilation and size of the room).
  • Face masks will be worn completely over the mouth and nose in our indoor spaces unless eating or drinking (or talking in the case of teachers). N95 masks are highly recommended, but we can accept cloth or surgical masks if they fit properly.
  • We will maintain social distancing indoors wherever possible. Please keep some distance from the teachers, even when outdoors.
  • We will keep windows open whenever possible and may have air purifiers running. Participants should bring scarfs, gloves, shawls, hoodies, hats, sweaters, fragrance-free mosquito repellant, or whatever you need to be comfortable in the season and climate. Please avoid noisy materials.
  • The schedule will include communal elements along with opportunities for seclusion. Self-scheduled practice periods may be included in the schedule. These can stagger occupancy of the common rooms and reduce the number of people in the meditation hall at one time. Retreatants may have options to practice in the meditation hall, their own rooms, or outside. However, this is not a self-retreat. Attendance at the morning and evening teachings, small group practice discussions, and certain elements of the scheduled program is expected and required.
  • All participants should have a plan for getting home safely should they test positive or come down with an illness during the retreat. We are not able to take responsibility for the care of an ill participant. Most of our retreat centers do not have appropriate accommodations for isolation.
  • Anyone refusing to comply with our mask requirements, testing schedule, disclosure of test results, or other measures to prevent the spread of illness will be required to leave the retreat immediately.
  • If you leave the retreat early for any reason, you will bear all associated costs. Retreat fees are not refundable.

To attend this retreat, each retreatant must agree to abide by our guidelines, remain on the property after arrival until the end of the retreat, wear a mask in indoor common areas including the meditation hall, test for COVID prior to traveling and at designated times during the retreat, permit the staff to check their temperature, and agree to leave the retreat immediately if they become ill, test positive for the coronavirus, refuse to wear a mask, or if for any reason they are asked to leave by the staff or teacher. A question on the retreat application gives applicants the opportunity to affirm their commitment to comply with our guidelines.

We are looking forward to this profound opportunity for practice.

If you have any concerns about our efforts to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus, please contact the event registrar.