May 3, 2021: Open Forum on Developing Risk Mitigation
In response to the updated travel advisories from the State Department, The Forum hosted an Open Forum on Monday, May 3. A panel of education abroad and health and safety leaders discussed how their institutions and organizations are responding to the travel advisories. Attendees were then split into break-out groups for the opportunity to discuss challenges in more depth.
Open Forum Panelists:
Vice Provost for Global Initiatives, University of Rhode Island
Executive Director, Tennessee Consortium for International Studies/Pellissippi State Community College
Director, International Center, San Diego State University
Associate Provost for International Programs, Santa Clara University
Vice President, Health and Safety, WorldStrides
View the Presentation Slides and Resources
April 22, 2021: Update on State Department Travel Advisories
The Forum is working with other relevant associations and industry partners to address the State Department’s new process for determining Travel Advisories. In light of the elevation of so many countries to a Level 4: Do Not Travel, we remind members and the field at large to utilize the Guidelines for Conducting Education Abroad During COVID-19 when making decisions and plans for education abroad programs.
Without question, the safety and well-being of students, host communities, and the entire education abroad community is our top priority. The Health, Safety, and Risk Mitigation Section 5.1.d of the document is especially relevant:
5.1 Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines
d. Health, Safety, and Risk Mitigation:
- Set clear and consistent safety protocols for all personnel and participants.
- Establish policies and protocols to mitigate risk to program participants and personnel as well as local communities.
- Identify organizational stakeholders to involve in decision-making during policy and procedure development. Build partnerships with other units or offices where helpful.
- Seek various sources of information and resources to inform policies and procedures.
- Look to different sources of expertise on the local level: health boards, legislation, school boards or education ministries
- Look to different sources of expertise on the national level: national health organizations and travel guidance, e.g., Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or Know Before You Go: Guidance for travel in Great Britain and Northern Ireland; insurance providers; legislation; in-country study abroad associations (e.g.: APUNE, APUAF, ASAPI)
- Look to different sources of expertise on the regional level, e.g., European Union (EU)’s Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, EUASA, AEI, APAIE, AAU, CBIE, UDUAL, FAUBAI, etc.)
- Look to different sources of expertise internationally: WHO, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, experts on your campuses (e.g., epidemiologists and public health experts).
- Determine which guidelines will be the ones your organization trusts and follows. Revisit and reconsider previously-held policies, ideas, or “tripwires” in favor of reasonable consideration of prevailing and reasonably predictable conditions across locations where decisions may have impact.
We are all anxious for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic and a return to “normal.” The Forum remains committed to helping our members rebuild and restructure education abroad as we all continue to navigate the twists and turns imposed by the virus.