1) Is self-isolation or testing required by the governments of any of your host countries? If so, how will you support students during a self-isolation period, or how will you ensure that they are tested?
Countries requiring self-isolation/proof of negative test is an ever-changing list.
Ensuring that students are tested before departure will be done by comprehensive pre-departure advising and in collaboration with our students who have a due-diligence to ensure they have done everything necessary to be eligible to travel. As COVID protocols continue to be developed by airlines and governments we will be amending our policies and advising our students accordingly.
Should students be required by host country's mandate to quarantine upon arrival, then that will be a mandatory requirement to our program. Failure to adhere to quarantine protocols will result in expulsion from the program. AIFS Abroad will work with a variety of housing providers to ensure the health and well-being of our participants will be looked after. This could be from daily check-ins, meal delivery, etc.
2) How will you operate your housing during COVID-19?
AIFS Abroad uses a variety of housing options for students around the world. This could be student residences, apartments, hotels, and homestays. Please indicate which types of student accommodation your organization will be using in 2021:
We are focusing our accommodation to be single occupancy but in some locations, this is not possible. In locations where we use Student Residences / Apartment buildings, we will be following their visitor restriction policies.
All host families receive additional training regarding COVID protocols for their local area. If someone in the house tests positive for COVID-19 then the appropriate officials will be contacted and the correct quarantine steps put in place. If the person is very ill then, of course, they will go straight to the hospital. If they are well enough to stay at home they will be quarantined as well as other family members as required by the authorities. If needed we have access to additional accommodation so students can quarantine in private rooms if needed.
3) Please describe how student housing and dining would be managed if a student tested positive for COVID-19 and had to self-isolate.
Students testing positive for COVID would be subject to immediate quarantine in their accommodation or in separate accommodation if required.
Meals/groceries would be arranged to be delivered in a safe and secure manner.
4) What COVID-specific protocols have you put in place for academic spaces and what happens to my academic program if on-location delivery is suspended?
We work closely with our partner universities in each location who in turn are following all local guidelines so that students can safely attend class. These guidelines include practices such as caps on class size to allow for social distancing, the spacing of desks to comply with current requirements, cleaning of classrooms regularly and high traffic areas, access to hand sanitizer at entrances, implementing one-way systems where practical, and enforcing mask-wearing where obligatory. In our own facilities, we will follow the same guidelines as required locally. These may change as local circumstances dictate.
If face-to-face classes need to be suspended for any reason we will be able to continue with a virtual delivery model allowing participants to finish the academic portion of the program (thereby not losing progress towards degree completion).
5) What social distancing protocols do you have and will you be providing PPD or sanitizing supplies?
Much of our physical distancing protocols are being developed according to the governmental guidelines in each country and with our institutional and employer partners. This takes into account how many students are allowed in a classroom, how many individuals constitute a “pod” for social events/outings, how many participants can be in accommodations, how many individuals are allowed at a specific host company, etc.
Students should come prepared with enough masks to safely get through the first few weeks of their program. After students become familiar with their surroundings they will be able to communicate with on-site staff to organize additional PPE / sanitizing supplies as needed.
6) How are you addressing the “proof of negative test” as it relates to entering into the host country or return to the US?
We are constantly monitoring the entry regulations for our countries which are fluid and change often. In all cases, we would defer to local regulations. These are legal requirements, not imposed by AIFS. Some of our countries have been requesting the negative test result as an entry requirement for some time although the U.S. only recently posted the request itself, so we have been monitoring and will communicate all requirements to our students.
7) Will AIFS require participants to get a vaccine?
At this stage, we have no plans to make vaccination compulsory and will continue to follow local guidelines and regulations. If any of our host countries change their entry requirements then that is something we will discuss on a case by case basis. We continue to monitor conversations about whether or not the vaccine can be made mandatory in a workspace, classroom, or other setting and expect these conversations to continue.