COVID-19 Risk Management Protocols

CONTACT US

SIT has a team of trained duty officers available 24 hours a day to respond to potential threats to student safety and manage emergency situations. 

Call: 802.258.3212

INTRODUCTION

SIT has implemented the following health and safety protocols with the goal of reducing COVID-19 infection and the translocation of the virus from one location to another.

To achieve this goal, SIT adheres to both host country entry regulations and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) regulations. Note: If host country entry regulations are less than CDC regulations, SIT defers to CDC regulations.

PROGRAM UPDATES

Responding to the dynamic risk horizon caused by the COVID virus and out of an abundance of caution, SIT continues to evaluate and amend many program elements to mitigate risk, to include:

1. Homestays
Homestays have always been an integral part of SIT programs. With the advent of COVID-19, in some settings homestays may present an elevated risk of exposure to both students and host families. As a result, SIT has suspended Homestays. Exceptions are considered by the SIT Risk Committee in instances when: a) COVID case numbers in a particular location are deemed sufficiently low; b) the government has a strong contact tracing system in place; and c) there are no medically “at risk” homestay family members.

2. International Excursions
SIT defines “International Excursion” as a student educational trip planned and led by SIT outside of the host country.

Given that international travel poses additional risk of COVID exposure—with even fully vaccinated travelers potentially at increased risk for getting and possibly spreading some COVID variants—SIT has suspended international excursions and will replace them with in-country excursions with similar learning outcomes. When the suspension of an international excursion undermines the academic integrity of the program, the SIT Risk Committee may consider limited exceptions when: a) students are vaccinated; b) COVID case numbers in the excursion location are deemed sufficiently low; and/or c) there are no prohibitive host country movement restrictions in place.

3. Independent Travel

SIT defines “Independent Travel” as travel within the host country* that: a) occurs during the program’s defined enrollment period; b) is independently organized by a student; c) is unrelated to program activities; d) does not interfere with scheduled program activities; and e) involves an overnight stay.

*For purposes of Independent Travel, the countries within the European Schengen zone are considered “within the host country”.

Given the current global health situation, SIT advises against independent travel. If a student wishes to travel independently, they must submit an independent travel request within the ascribed timeframe. For fall 2021, independent travel requests for in-country destinations may be authorized under the following conditions: a) the requesting student is vaccinated; b) key COVID metrics monitored by SIT are favorable in the requested region; c) there are no movement restrictions imposed by the host country government that would impede the independent travel and d) the independent travel request is submitted consistent with the process steps detailed in the independent travel policy so the request may be reviewed by the Academic Director and the Student Health, Safety & Wellbeing Regional Manager.

SIT reserves the right to deny independent travel requests for reasons unrelated to COVID, including but not limited to the location is deemed unsafe, the student is in poor academic standing, etc. If a student received approval for independent travel, and then developed COVID symptoms or could not travel for any reason, SIT is not responsible for forfeited travel payments (e.g. cancelled flights, lodging, etc.).

4. Vaccinations

Beginning in fall 2021, SIT requires students enrolled in SIT programs to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Exemptions may be requested by submitting an Immunization Exemption Form to the Office of Student Health, Safety & Wellbeing. Exemptions include: a) Medical (provide a letter of support from your health care provider); b) Religious (provide a statement describing a sincerely held religious belief); or c) Accessibility (provide a statement describing the inaccessibility of vaccinations in your location/home country).

In recognition that vaccines may not be available in many global locations for the fall 2021 semester, SIT strongly encourages—but is not requiring at this time—the COVID-19 vaccination for program faculty and staff.

5. Masks

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. Consistent with this recommendation, and to provide maximize protection from the Delta variant and prevent possible spread to others, SIT requires that all participants wear a mask indoors in public and wherever else required by laws, rules, regulations and local guidance.

6. Tests & Quarantine

Before Departure to Host Country

  • Unvaccinated students must take a viral PCR test 1-3 days before departure. Students who test negative should present the test result to airport officials; Students who test positive may not travel. 
  • Vaccinated students do not need to obtain a viral PCR test before departure (unless required by the host country or in situations where SIT deems it necessary).

Upon Arrival to Host Country

  • Unvaccinated students must quarantine after travel for 7 days with receipt of a negative test (taken between day 3-5 of quarantine) OR must quarantine for ten days if no test is administered. Quarantine requires remaining in a specific room separate from other non-exposed people.
  • Vaccinated students do not need to quarantine upon arrival (unless required by the host country or in situations where SIT deems it necessary).
  • Both unvaccinated & vaccinated students must obtain a viral PCR test 3-5 days after arrival (SIT arranges and pays for this test).

7. Transportation

SIT supports the CDC’s recommendations to mitigate COVID-19 risk in transportation settings, to include: a) Wear masks, keep physical distance, avoid touching surfaces, and practice hand hygiene; b) Refrain from eating or drinking; c) With regards to the driver, maintain physical distance and request ventilation improvements as needed.

COVID RESPONSE PROTOCOL

1. Positive Test or Symptomatic
If a person tests positive and/or is experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, SIT follows these CDC guidelines:

a. Isolate. Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID from those who are not infected.  Isolation means staying home (in a specific room away from other people) and separating from other people.Those in isolation should monitor their symptoms, stay in touch with their health care provider, not leave home or visit public areas, and take care of themselves (e.g. rest and stay hydrated). 

b. Contact Trace. An infected person can spread COVID starting 48 hours before the person has any symptoms or tests positive. By letting one’s close contacts know they may have been exposed to COVID-19, they are helping to protect everyone. The CDC defines close contact as someone who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to test specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.

c. Ending Isolation. People who are symptomatic or test positive may be around others: a) After ten days since symptoms first appeared, and b) After 24 hours with no fever (without using fever-reducing medications), and c) After other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving. People who are non-symptomatic and test positive—and continue to have no symptoms—can be around others after ten days have passed since the positive test. Most people do not require testing to decide when they can be around others. However, if your healthcare provider recommends testing, they will let you know when you can resume being around others based on your test results.

2. Exposure

a. Vaccinated students who have a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 must be tested 3-5 days after exposure and continue to wear a mask in public indoor settings.

b. Unvaccinated students must quarantine (stay home, separate themselves from others, monitor their health, and follow directions from their state or local health department). Quarantine may stop after day ten without testing OR after day seven when receiving a negative test result (the test must occur on the fifth day of quarantine or later).

BEFORE TRAVEL BACK TO THE UNITED STATES.

Per U.S. Policy, unvaccinated & vaccinated people returning to the United States must get a viral PCR test no more than three calendar days before departure (or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 3 months).

Note: If a student tests positive, SIT will assist the student in finding room and board and will extend travel insurance coverage during the isolation period. Students will be responsible for the cost of room and board and other costs associated with an extended stay (for example airline ticket change fees, local transportation, etc.) beyond the program’s official end date.