USAP plans for the upcoming Antarctic research season
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USAP plans for the upcoming Antarctic research season

As a new research season begins, we want to take this opportunity to update you on actions we are taking to continue to ensure the health and safety of all deployers.

This season will see a much-anticipated return to routine deployment counts after two years of significant reductions. We are planning to host 90 science events and deploy more than 2,500 grantees, support team members, construction workers, and operations staff. To reduce the risk posed by COVID-19, we will continue to require up-to-date vaccinations and will administer Rapid Antigen Tests prior to Southbound travel. We also encourage everyone to protect themselves and the Antarctic community by following CDC guidance on masking and social distancing and alerting medical staff immediately if you do not feel well.

Deployers will also begin seeing changes related to our efforts to build a more robust Sexual Assault and Harassment Prevent and Response (SAHPR) program that emphasizes both prevention and support.

  • Inbound training courses will include newly developed “Know Your Rights” content designed to assist deployers in understanding their reporting responsibilities and resource options.
  • Peep holes are being added to all dormitory room doors. In addition, the number of satellite communication devices provided to field teams will be increased, so that individuals will have a greater ability to report issues directly to a responsive person at McMurdo Station.
  • The Counselor position that was in place last season will return. In addition, an Advocate, that can assist with reporting incidents of harassment, bullying or assault, will also be available to the community.
  • The Office of Equity and Civil Rights will establish an independent line of reporting for individuals that are targets of sexual harassment, or are impacted by sexual assault, who do not feel comfortable reporting to on-ice resources.
  • Listening sessions with NSF leadership will begin in McMurdo during the first week in November, hosted by the Section Head for Antarctic Science, Dr. Michael Jackson, the Section Head for Antarctic Infrastructure and Logistics, Ms. Stephanie Short, and the Deputy Head of the Office of Equity and Civil Rights, Ms. Sarah Williams.

These steps are initial actions towards executing the full Implementation Plan in the recently released USAP SAHPR report. We encourage you to participate with us in building and sustaining a vibrant SAHPR program that serves everyone in our community.

This season will be a busy one, and we ask for your help in also making it a safe one. See you on the ice!