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Ebola Statement

Ebola Statement

September 2, 2014

SIT Study Abroad is closely monitoring the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD), including the first reported case of Ebola in Senegal announced on Friday, August 29th.   Although there are currently no warning messages or alerts based on this single confirmed case, we understand the concern that this news has generated and wish to share the following information.

SIT has proceeded with the Senegal: National Identity and the Arts program, which began on August 31st, as well as the Senegal portion of the IHP Cities in the 21st Century program scheduled to arrive in Dakar in October. SIT is closely monitoring EVD developments in Senegal, and elsewhere, and remains prepared to activate contingency plans, if necessary, which may include modifying our excursion plans, offering alternative program locations to students, as well as relocating the program outside Senegal.

While there is no specific trigger that will initiate one or more of the options above, SIT remains in close contact with the US Department of State, the US Embassy in Dakar, and health officials in Senegal and has a team in Vermont receiving updates and maintaining close communication.  If and when we determine that we would be unable to continue to provide students and staff with a program that supports their needs, SIT will take immediate steps to provide students with alternatives. All SIT programs include evacuation insurance for situations where the health and safety of our students is at imminent risk (e.g., political situations, natural disasters, or epidemics).      

While contraction of EVD is very serious, the virus is fragile, transmittable only through close, intimate contact with the bodily fluids of acutely ill patients. Healthcare workers and caregivers have the highest risk for contracting EVD. Scheduled SIT program events will not put students in these higher risk situations.

SIT will continue to implement additional training and procedures related to EVD in our continued prioritization of student health and safety:

  • In-country health orientations in Senegal will include special briefings on EVD. Students will be advised on EVD-specific universal precautions. In addition, these information sessions have been, and will continue to be, offered to all local staff.
  • Homestay families will receive additional background on EVD. A briefing by SIT Study Abroad program physicians will be included in the homestay family orientation provided in each community.
  • Independent study projects involving work in clinical or other healthcare settings will not be permitted until further notice.

The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is SIT Study Abroad’s highest priority.  SIT has operated throughout Africa for over 30 years and brings this extensive experience to bear on risk management decisions for all programs. In all cases, SIT is prepared to make appropriate changes, including program closure, and has extensive contingency plans in place through local, regional, and global networks.

For additional information about EVD, please review the WHO fact sheet and the CDC website. Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you have any questions. The Office of Student Affairs can be reached by calling 802 258-3212 or via e-mail at studentaffairs@sit.edu.

August 1, 2014

SIT Study Abroad is closely monitoring the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD), first identified in Guinea in March 2014 and now present in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The border area shared by the three affected countries remains the epicenter of the EVD outbreak and, in the past week, each of the countries involved has increased measures to halt the further spread of EVD through border closures, quarantines, and restrictions on movement and public gatherings. Please note that EVD is not reported in any countries in which SIT Study Abroad operates.

While contraction of EVD is very serious, the virus is transmittable only through close, intimate contact with the bodily fluids of acutely ill patients. Healthcare workers and caregivers have the highest risk for contracting EVD. Scheduled SIT program events will not put students in these higher risk situations.

At present, SIT plans to maintain all programs in Africa, and elsewhere, during the fall 2014 semester, and will continue to observe standard health, safety, and security protocols at each site.

Although EVD is not reported in the countries in which SIT operates, we are implementing additional training and procedures in our continued prioritization of student health and safety.

  • In-country health orientations for programs in West Africa provided to all SIT students by in-country physicians will now include special briefings on EVD. Students will be advised on EVD-specific universal precautions. In addition, these information sessions have been, and will continue to be, offered to all local staff.
  • Homestay families in West Africa will receive additional background on EVD. A briefing by SIT Study Abroad program physicians will be included in the homestay family orientation provided in each community.
  • Independent study projects involving work in clinical or other healthcare settings will not be permitted on West Africa programs until further notice.

The health and safety of students, faculty, and staff is SIT Study Abroad’s highest priority. SIT has operated throughout Africa for over 30 years and brings this extensive experience to bear on risk management decisions for all programs. With respect to health, our focus has been, and will continue to be, on providing preparations and precautions for tropical infectious diseases students may encounter through pre-departure and on-site information. In all cases, SIT is poised to make appropriate changes, including program closure, and has extensive contingency plans in place through local, regional, and global networks.

We extend our profound sympathies to those affected. While we understand the concern, we are well prepared at this point to maintain our current operations despite the present EVD outbreak. The specific conditions required for transmission, the relatively few cases reported (as a percentage of the population), the lack of suspected/confirmed cases of EVD in the countries where SIT Study Abroad operates, and the contingency plans in place at each site, enable SIT to continue to offer all programs with the highest regard for the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff. SIT will continue to monitor events closely in coordination with local medical officials and US embassy staff, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization, and we will make appropriate decisions to safeguard the well-being of our students.

SIT Study Abroad is committed to its mission of helping students understand the issues and realities of countries and cultures different from their own, while prioritizing health, safety, and security. For additional information about EVD, please review the WHO fact sheet and the CDC website. Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you have any questions. The Office of Student Affairs can be reached by calling 802 258-3212 or via e-mail at studentaffairs@sit.edu.

 

SIT, 1 Kipling Road, PO Box 676, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0676
802 258-3212, 888 272-7881 (Toll-free in the US)

SIT was founded as the School for International Training and has been known as SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute since 2007. SIT is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. (NEASC) through its Commission on Institutions of Higher Education

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