1) How will participants receive information regarding COVID-19 policies pre-departure?
Participants on our programs receive detailed pre-departure information and work with our experienced team as they plan for their time abroad to ensure that they are well prepared for their study abroad or intern experience and make informed decisions. This includes the latest COVID-19 information for their chosen destination.
2) How will COVID-19 protocols impact orientations?
Content contained in the Orientation specific to COVID-19:
- On arrival, participants take part in a detailed orientation program with their local staff. This information covers issues such as safety and security, how to access healthcare services including counseling, updates on COVID-19 regulations as well as general program and location information.
- Staff also stress the importance of students taking responsibility for their own health and welfare during these briefings and in the provided materials. The importance of good hygiene, rest, and good nutrition as well as following all current public health advice, avoiding crowded areas, social distancing, wearing of PPE, etc. are covered.
- AIFS/GE have amended their student code of conduct to include wording regarding COVID-19, appropriate behavior, and following local regulations and guidelines.
Delivery of Orientations on-location:
- All orientations will take place in spaces large enough to allow social distancing or even outside if the location allows or
- Will occur virtually allowing students to participate from their accommodation
3) How will COVID-19 protocols impact accommodation?
All program fees include housing. This can be an apartment, student residence, or homestay depending on the location. We are working closely with all of our housing providers to gather information as to what their COVID-19 planning is for Spring 2021. This will include measures such as:
- Deep cleaning accommodation prior to arrival
- Plans for self-isolation if required
- Limits on occupancy numbers
- Roommate agreements and information on successful accommodation sharing
- Homestay agreements
- Use of PPE in common areas
- Options to upgrade to a single room for a fee where available (some locations are already single occupancy accommodation as standard)
- Additional training and orientations for homestay hosts
- Review of homestays to avoid using hosts that fall into the category of vulnerable people or key workers.
4) How do AIFS and GE offer on-site support?
All programs have experienced local support staff who receive training on policies and procedures, health and safety resources, medical and emergency protocols. Staff are also available 24/7 through a dedicated emergency phone line.
Onsite staff collaborates with other colleges and universities through local and regional associations and academic networks to share best practices on a variety of issues including health and safety.
Local medical support:
All students have CISI medical insurance included in their program fee (see section on insurance). CISI insurance covers testing for COVID-19 and any subsequent treatment if required. Our local staff have strong contacts with the local medical community and English-speaking medical professionals if needed.
5) What should I know about academic facilities and courses?
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, 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.
If face-to-face classes need to be suspended for any reason we will be able to continue with a virtual delivery model so that students can successfully complete their studies.
6) What should I know about internships?
If your program is internship based or has an internship component, you will need to pay attention to all in-country health and legal considerations. Guidance on social distancing, use of PPE, and other precautions will be outlined by your employer and will be necessary for you to follow.
GE will be placing students with employers who are spending most of the workweek in the office as this maximizes the internship experience. However, circumstances may dictate that the student be asked to work virtually. If this occurs the student and on-location GE staff member will determine the length of time this is a viable option, what a hybrid schedule could look like, and come up with a plan for internship success.
It is very important that the student and employer work together to ensure the safety of all in the company environment. Violation of COVID preventative procedures set out by the employer will be considered violations of GE’s code of conduct.
7) What should I know about cultural activities and excursions?
All programs offer a cultural calendar of weekly activities and events. They may include both typical tourist attractions and lesser-known visits which take advantage of the expert knowledge of our local staff and give students a more authentic and insightful view of their program location.
We will review all activities to make sure that they can be conducted with social distancing in mind and adapted if required, such as a cooking class being a smaller group and no sharing of food or equipment allowed. Strong consideration will be given to having outdoor-based activities. If using private transportation buses will be deep cleaned before use and hand sanitizer will be available, and if using public transport the use of PPE as appropriate will be enforced. Local recommendations will be followed such as pre-booking, reduced group sizes, wearing of PPE, etc.
For overnight excursions, housing options will be chosen according to suitability and visits reviewed.
Excursions outside the host country may be suspended in certain situations depending on local conditions and entry clearance. An alternative in-country excursion will then be offered.
8) What will local transportation be like?
Some students will be able to access their classrooms/internship and accommodation on foot but for many, they will need to take public transportation. As part of the orientation program, local staff will give students advice on the transportation options open to them and guidance on using PPE if necessary.
9) What are other resources I should access?
AIFS staff also worked with our VP of Diversity and Alumni Relations to deliver ‘Navigating Uncertainty: Resources for Thoughtfully Processing Your Time Abroad’ which was developed to help students unpack the full experience they had and provide resources as they continue their return. This program was selected as the winner of the Innovation in Alumni Engagement category for the 2020 GoAbroad .com innovation Awards and this guide and companion video can be found on the welcome back section of our alumni website.
AIFS has also developed a series of webinars focusing on health and safety, diversity, alumni engagement, sessions with our Resident Directors and support services for our university partners. Please use this link to register for upcoming sessions and to view the subjects we have covered.
10) Does the insurance included in the GE program cover COVID-19?
All interns enrolled in the GE program are covered by our partner Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI.) They have posted a series of COVID-19 related FAQs on their page.
Interns may request a copy of the insurance policy at any time from their GE Program Advisor.