SFS Response to COVID-19
The SFS Health & Wellness and Risk Management teams continue to closely monitor COVID-19 both globally and locally.
SFS has comprehensive risk management plans in place and our safety systems are a guiding principle for all decisions about programming. We closely follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and U.S. Department of State recommendations. There are many logistical and academic considerations, including travel restrictions, that we will be taking into account when evaluating potential program changes. We will continue to make updates to this page with relevant information.
Learn more about SFS health and safety. Read our FAQ section below.
Please note that all U.S.-based SFS staff are currently working remotely. Email is the best way to reach us at this time and you can find a list of contact information HERE.
Program Updates & Suspension Notices
We continue to actively assess the global outlook for international travel and study abroad. We are closely monitoring COVID-19 developments from the U.S. Department of State, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and our local contacts. Our highest priority is the health, security, and wellbeing of students, staff, and the local communities in which our programs are based. Program itineraries will be subject to change based on the current conditions and advisories in both the host country and the U.S at the time of the program.
We are mapping out revised campus safety protocols based on host country, CDC, and WHO guidelines in addition to any changes we may need to make to programming due to the status of the pandemic at the time of active programming. We anticipate some changes to levels of community engagement, independent travel, and travel to certain regions and program activities that may not be available.
Vaccine and Booster Requirement: Beginning with Summer 2021 programs, SFS will now require all students to provide proof of vaccination plus 1 booster shot prior to participation in their SFS program. Students will need to show proof of full vaccination with a booster shot no later than two weeks prior to departure for their program. You can read more about this decision in the FAQs below.
Booster Recommendations: Following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, if you are eligible, the School for Field Studies is highly encouraging that you receive a second Covid-19 booster shot at least 14 days prior to your program departure. Please consult with your physician regarding your eligibility for a booster shot.
Read more about the Covid-19 Booster shot here.
Last updated October 11, 2022.
SFS continues to actively assess the health and safety risks from COVID-19 at all our global locations as we look to the Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and future programs. The decision to resume operations of our international study abroad programs will be determined by many factors, including guidance from the U.S. Department of State, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current international levels of risk, and our ability to mitigate and manage those potential risks for our participants and staff in the field.
SFS is an industry leader in risk management. We have a structured risk management approach that enables us to adapt to the dynamic changes of the natural and political world to both prevent and respond to risk quickly and soundly. SFS adheres to the Forum on Education Abroad Standards of Good Practice and continually monitors global risk and security using a variety of external resources, including the U.S. State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and partner health and safety professionals in higher education (PULSE).
Each SFS Center has a Risk Assessment and Management Plan (RAMP) that comprehensively documents emergency response protocols and contingency plans. The protocols list the locations and contact details for nearby medical clinics, advanced medical care, and emergency evacuation services while also providing our staff, who are trained in wilderness medicine, with guidance on how to respond to incidents or emergencies.
If SFS determines that we need to temporarily suspend operations on a currently running program, we will immediately notify students, their home institutions, and their emergency contacts. Our site staff will oversee the safety and well-being of the students by assessing the situation and taking appropriate precautions.
For students enrolled for an upcoming program at a suspended location, we will notify students and their home institutions. We will work with students to determine if there is an alternative SFS program that would meet their academic needs and interests.
SFS maintains a blanket accident insurance policy through AIG insurance administered by AIG’s Travel Guard program. The policy includes coverage for accidental medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation, and security evacuation. At this time, the existence of COVID-19 in a country where SFS operates does not meet AIG criteria to initiate emergency or security evacuation. However, in the event a student receives a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, then SFS and AIG Travel Guard will assist and advise on best options for medical care, and evacuation to home of record at the appropriate time. Coverage is determined by AIG at its sole discretion via a review process based on the specific facts of each submitted claim.
A summary of coverage connected to this policy can be found here.
Yes, beginning with Summer 2021 programs, SFS will require all students to provide proof of vaccination prior to participation in their SFS program. Students will need to show proof of full vaccination no later than two weeks prior to departure for their program.
As responsible travelers, it is our obligation to not increase the exposure locally, and in many cases, the outbreak of COVID-19 in the U.S. was wider than that of SFS program locations. Being vaccinated not only decreases the risk of contracting COVID-19 during travel but also protects the community where the SFS program is based, fellow students, and SFS staff. SFS shares in this responsibility and as vaccines are available locally, we are supporting our staff in becoming vaccinated.
Yes, we have developed specific policies at both the general and program level. Our comprehensive and dynamic risk assessment and management system continuously monitors and adapts to known and foreseeable risks and supports SFS leadership regarding program policies, design, and curriculum. Upon arrival, students participate in a multi-day orientation that provides context to local laws, customs, and belief systems. Throughout the program, the daily activities are managed via structured itineraries, sign-out policies, and curfews. Residential life is supported by trained staff, community living agreements, and limited guest access. These longstanding policies provide for a healthy campus by managing and mitigating the risks of infection and illness.
Read more about our policies and procedures for upcoming programs:
SFS COVID-19 POLICIES & PROCEDURES
In consideration of COVID-19, SFS has amended the refund policy for Spring 2022, Summer 2022, and Fall 2022 programs. Beginning with Winter 2023 programming, SFS will return to the standard refund policy. You can get more information about these policies by visiting our Program Costs & Billing