Yesterday evening, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issued a statement recommending that Institutions of Higher Education “consider postponing or canceling student foreign exchange programs” and “consider asking current program participants to return to their home country.” CIEE is reviewing this new information and will support our partner institutions in their decisions related to these guidelines. A version of this note will shortly be sent to all CIEE students on program and their parents.
As of this writing, CIEE has suspended only programs in China, South Korea, and Italy, based on CDC and U.S. State Department elevated travel advisories related to COVID-19 (coronavirus). After careful consideration, and in the absence of any specific change in conditions in the other 35+ countries in which CIEE operates, we will continue to offer our programs as planned.
Student health and safety remain our very highest priority. CIEE has successfully supported students for more than 70 years through innumerable events of significant concern. Our staff around the world remain in place and prepared to manage any student questions or concerns about COVID-19. Our teams are trained to manage health situations of every variety, and, as always, we are available to support students day and night.
Our Health, Safety, and Security team has developed additional training, guidelines, and resources to help our worldwide staff manage the local ramifications of the global outbreak, and our teams will offer direct and supportive care to all students – just as we always do and have done, for medical concerns of any nature.
The CIEE Program Disruption Task Force meets daily to assess conditions and design mitigation strategies as well as alternative program options for students in impacted areas.
As part of our enhanced student communication, all CIEE Centers are hosting Town Halls to provide students with information about COVID-19, including prevention guidelines. This week, all European Centers will host these events for all CIEE participants, with the other regions’ Centers following suit in the coming days. We have a full set of FAQs about COVID-19 and CIEE’s response on our website, and are posting alerts as needed.
As a company we have significant experience successfully managing world events of all kinds – from hurricane evacuations to strikes to viral outbreaks in many countries – and we know that we can manage in these circumstances. We are tracking this issue closely and will keep affected parties swiftly informed of any changes to programs or program participation we must make (proactively or in response to current events) to ensure student safety.