NCTC COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The decision to restore in-person courses and events at NCTC rests on a number of factors, including:
(1) The implementation status of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s FWS COVID-19 Adaptive Operations Recovery Plan, including its phased-in return to non-essential, official travel;
(2) The status of COVID-19 cases in West Virginia, and the current status of state restrictions in response to spikes in the number of cases;
(3) The status of COVID-19 in other parts of the nation and overseas in locations where NCTC guests may be based; and
(4) NCTC’s ability to host courses and events with proper social distancing and other precautions recommended by local health officials, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and other relevant agencies.
Initially, on-site courses and events will be minimal, but may increase in number over time, depending on the above factors.
When NCTC begins to offer on-site courses and events, a notice will be posted on the NCTC website, and the NCTC Director or Deputy Director will notify Service employees.
My supervisor wants me to take a couple of classes that are normally offered at NCTC in person. If I need to have those classes completed before NCTC is ready to start offering in-person classes, what can do?
When traveling to NCTC, what do I need to consider when I sign up for a class or event, during and after the transition to a new normal from the COVID-19 lockdown?
First and foremost, NCTC urges you to make your safety and well-being a top priority and to follow any COVID-19 related limitations or guidance provided by your local government, place of work, or your planned mode of travel. Also, please carefully consider your risk of severe illness, should you contract COVID-19 during your trip.
It is important to note that the NCTC does not have any medically-trained staff or facilities to isolate and treat suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, and the facility has very limited capacity to make appropriate arrangements for travel, accommodations or care off-campus for guests who fall ill while on campus.
You should not travel to the NCTC if:
- You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19;
- You had close contact with someone who has a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the previous 14 days;
- You have tested positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of your planned arrival at the NCTC;
- You tested positive for COVID-19 more than 14 days prior to your arrival, but you are not yet medically cleared of COVID-19; or
- The state or country you are departing from is in lockdown due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Finally, keep in mind that the NCTC is gradually increasing on-site events and courses, and during the transition to normal operations with priority placed on lodging and the learning environment. If you attend an event or class in the early stages of this process, you may find that certain services (including food services) and amenities on campus are curtailed or unavailable.
If you have questions or concerns about the availability of amenities or services at the NCTC during your planned visit, please call the Front Desk at 304-876-1600.
Will NCTC require us to wear face masks on campus? Will masks be provided, or should we bring and wear our own?
The use of a cloth face covering is voluntary at DOI work locations (such as NCTC) unless required by State guidance. As of July 7, 2020, the Governor of West Virginia issued Executive Order No 50-20 , ordering the use of face coverings when not able to adequately social distance from individuals who do not reside in the same household. The NCTC is located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and is following state guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on CDC and OSHA guidance, the Department of the Interior (DOI) STRONGLY recommends that all individuals (i.e., federal employees, contractors and guests) wear face coverings while in any DOI-managed facility whenever physical distancing (six or more feet between each person) is difficult to maintain.
The NCTC will provide masks to guests upon request. You may bring and wear your own face covering, including an N95 mask, if you choose. However, if you are a Federal employee, you may only wear an N95 mask on campus if you follow guidance provided by the Service’s Joint Administration Operations Safety Operations Branch. These are the steps for Federal employees to use N95 masks on the job, in compliance with OSHA requirements.
Face coverings worn at NCTC are subject to Federal statutes, rules and policies that describe what is appropriate and inappropriate work attire.
Will NCTC screen guests for COVID-19 as they arrive on campus?
No. However, while the pandemic lasts, every NCTC guest should conduct self-monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 using the CDC Symptoms List or Self-Checker prior to their arrival at the NCTC and each morning, while on campus, before coming into contact with others. Guests should use information from their self-monitoring regimen to determine if they should leave their room to attend class or meetings on campus.
Pack a thermometer to help you with your daily practice of self-monitoring, because fever (above 100.4F) is a common COVID-19 symptom.
What if a guest gets sick with COVID-19 symptoms while at staying at NCTC?
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms while traveling to the NCTC, do NOT come to the campus. In that case, please notify the NCTC Front Desk and then travel to the nearest hospital or make other arrangements for travel and/or accommodations.
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 while on campus, stay in your room or return to your room immediately to isolate yourself from others on campus. Then:
- Call 911 if you are experiencing any emergency warning signs. Be sure to tell the 911 operator your precise location, including lodge name and room number, and alert the Front Desk.
- If you are not experiencing emergency warning signs, contact the Front Desk to inform them of your lodge, room number, and situation. Then:
- If you have driven to the NCTC and are able to drive, please pack and leave campus as soon as possible, without interacting with anyone else on campus.
- If you have come by airplane or if you are unable to drive, arrangements will have to be made, with your assistance or the assistance of a family member or friend (who is not on campus), to take you off campus to isolate and provide care for you until you are well enough to travel.
- If you fall ill and want to arrange for a friend or family member to take you off campus, the Front Desk can alert the guard at the entrance so that person will be able to enter and pick you up at your precise location. However, you and your friend or family member must not walk away from your pick-up location or interact with any other person on campus, and you must remain in the vehicle, once inside, until you have left the campus.
**Please keep in mind that the NCTC does NOT have any medically trained staff or facilities to isolate and support suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.**
How will NCTC keep guests safe during their stay?
In addition to following the State of West Virginia’s guidance for guests and employees to wear face coverings, the NCTC will set and manage the maximum occupant capacity of public spaces and all facilities throughout the campus to maximize social distance. While the pandemic remains active, the restrooms and frequent touch points in public spaces will be cleaned and disinfected routinely and disinfecting supplies will be available for guess to use in their rooms. Lodge rooms will be not be visited by housekeeping to clean or provide supplies unless you place a request for it at the Front Desk.
Reminders of social distancing guidelines, such as maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people, will be posted on campus. Per the DOI Pandemic Social Distancing and Daily Health Monitoring Implementation Guidelines for DOI Work Locations, guests who refuse to follow social distancing guidelines may be asked to come into compliance with recommendations or leave the facility.
What can I do to lower my risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 while I’m at NCTC?
In addition to self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms:
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently and for 20 seconds or more.
- When soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Maintain social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from other people).
- Wear a face covering especially when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Avoid shaking hands with people.
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as your desk, chair arms, landline phones, and cell phones.
- Avoid using other people’s phones, desks, and office spaces.
If West Virginia COVID-19 cases spike and the state goes into a lockdown, would NCTC close in response?
If the Governor of West Virginia imposes travel restrictions and the closure of schools in response to a spike in COVID-19 after NCTC has begun to hold events or classes on campus, it is likely NCTC will close. Guidance from state health officials, based on the status of COVID-19 cases in West Virginia, will continue to inform NCTC operational decisions.
Will I be allowed to bring my partner/significant other when I come to take a class on campus?
Yes, you may bring your partner/significant other/child while you are attending classes or events at the NCTC. However, only registered participants can participate in classes. If you plan to travel with a young child (five years old or younger) and want to use the Day Care facility, please contact them at (304) 876-7354 at least two weeks ahead of time to ensure that they are open and have space for your child during your stay.
Keep in mind that anyone who travels with you and stays in your NCTC lodging also must follow the guidance expressed in these FAQs and any NCTC instruction or guidance provided to you went you arrive on campus.
I have friends who live near NCTC. Will they be able to visit me while I am at NCTC?
They may visit you on campus if they are Federal employees and have a PIV card (government identification). Until further notice, visitors (other than registered course or event participants) without a PIV card will not be allowed on campus.
What are the hours of the gym?
The gym will remain closed until Phase III has taken effect.
What are the hours of the Sundry/Gift Shop?
The Sundry/Gift Shop will remain closed until Phase III has taken effect.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
NCTC courses are open to any interested students who meet the pre-qualification standards set forth for each class. While college credit is available for many courses, most students are environmental or technical professionals who are looking for career enhancement training. NCTC does not offer degree programs. Tuition fees are assessed for NCTC courses.
A limited number of prepaid vouchers are available for tribal natural resource professionals to attend NCTC training. Further information on the tribal voucher program can be found here.
How can I reach someone who is attending training at NCTC?
You can call our Front Desk to reach a guest at NCTC. The number is 304-876-7403 or 304-876-1600. Also each guest is supplied voice mail with their room phone.
What is the mailing address for NCTC?
The NCTC Mailing Address is:
US Fish and Wildlife Service, NCTC
698 Conservation Way
Shepherdstown, WV 25443-4024
Are pets allowed at NCTC?
No pets are allowed on the NCTC grounds; only service animals and animals specifically designated for training and education purposes are authorized on NCTC grounds.
Where can I get information about employment with the US Fish & Wildlife Service?
Job listings for the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies are located at https://www.usajobs.gov/.
Where can I get information about employment with my state Department of Natural Resources?
You can get information regarding West Virginia Department of Natural Resources at https://wvdnr.gov/
Performing a search with your web browser on your state name along with Parks Department, DNR, Recreation or Employment can access other state Department of Natural Resources websites.
Where can I get information about inclement weather policies for NCTC?
Review NCTC weather information and policies for details.
Where can I get information about supporting conservation education?
The Friends of NCTC actively supports the mission of the National Conservation Training Center by supporting NCTC community outreach programs and extending the reach of this world-class facility.
Learn more about the Friends of NCTC at the Friends of the National Conservation Training Center web site.
Why aren't there coffee pots in the guest rooms?
This achieves additional energy savings. Coffee pots are located in the housing kitchenette.
What cellular carriers are in the area?
AT&T cell phone coverage is available throughout the campus.
How do you choose coffee break food and beverage selections?
Selections are made from guest comments and varied from choices in the dining hall and vending machines.
What are the hours of the gym?
Gym Information - Please note due to COVID-19, the gym will remain closed until Phase III has taken effect.
What are the hours of the Sundry/Gift Shop?
Sundry/Gift Shop Information - Please note due to COVID-19, the gift shop will remain closed until Phase III has taken effect.
Where can I print out an airline ticket?
Computers and printers are available in the Business Center in 106IE and the Business Center in 162IW.
What are the hours of the library?
Contact the Library at 304-876-7304 or the Front Desk, at 304-876-1600, for hours of operation and more information.
Where is the ATM located?
It is located on the first floor of Commons/Dining Hall building.
Do you have walking trails?
Trail Maps are available at the Front Desk.
Where is my classroom?
Classrooms are located in the John F. Turner Instructional East and the John R "Rick" Lemon Instructional West buildings across the bridge from Commons Building.