SIT Policy on Programs and Travel in Elevated Risk Locations

CONTACT US

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

Call: 802.258.3212

Purpose of Policy

As part of its commitment to ensuring the safety, security and well-being of all personnel and program participants, the School for International Training (SIT) monitors daily ongoing and evolving global situations including political unrest, weather-related and public health matters. We rely on a variety of sources for actual or potential risk to students and staff, including daily Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) news summaries, International SOS and AIG risk alerts, Centers for Disease Control information, TRAVEX, local health ministries and other government sources, as well as global and local news sources. We also rely heavily on our staff teams on the ground to provide proactive updates about issues of concern and potential impact to our students and site. Our staff, in turn, rely on local program networks, including local authorities, U.S. embassy services, and informal sources.

When there are programs or travel proposed or taking place in “Elevated Risk” regions, SIT utilizes the U.S. Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory System as a primary tool to guide decisions regarding travel and programs in Elevated Risk locations. This policy document outlines these guidelines.

The policy applies to all SIT study abroad students. It also applies to SIT graduate students, except for the period of their program when they are undertaking their practicum. *Graduate students may propose locations for their practicum in Elevated Risk regions, but they must receive approval prior to traveling to any elevated risk location for their practicum work.

Definitions

SIT defines “Elevated Risk” locations as:

  • Countries with an overall US Department of State Risk Level 3 – Reconsider Travel or Level 4 – Do Not Travel advisory rating.
  • Regions within Level 1 or Level 2 countries that the US Department of State has assigned a “Reconsider Travel” or “Do Not Travel” level to.

Policy and Procedures Statement

SIT’s policy on locations defined as “Elevated Risk” is as follows:

  • New Programs in Countries with an overall Level 3 – Reconsider Travel or Level 4 – Do Not Travel Advisory Rating

    New program activities in any country where there is a Level 3 – Reconsider Travel or Level 4 – Do Not Travel Advisory Rating are prohibited and will not be considered.

    Due to concerns for student and employee health, safety, and security, SIT does not support new program development in these Elevated Risk locations.
  • Existing Programs in Countries Where Advisory Levels Have Been Raised from 1 or 2 to Level 3 – Reconsider Travel

    If an existing program was designated Level 1 or Level 2 by DOS at time of program approval and inception, but is then changed at any time to a Level 3 Advisory Level during the program, the matter is taken up by the SIT Risk Committee. The SIT Risk Committee is responsible for evaluating risk factors across all programs and will make a determination of next steps.

    As part of its review, the Risk Committee considers a number of factors, including safety and security assessments at the specific locations within the country where program activities would be taking place, information from relevant staff and stakeholders on the ground, and emergency and contingency measures proposed to make sure they address the risks related to the elevated advisory level. Based on an evaluation of all these factors, the Risk Committee will make a decision on whether or not to approve the program activity.

    Following the review, the SIT Risk Committee will decide to either:

    1) Approve continuation of program activities.
    OR
    2) Cancel the program, either temporarily or long-term, due to the deteriorating safety and security environment.

    The decision of the SIT Risk Committee, and the reasons for it, will be documented and formally shared with relevant stakeholders.
  • Locations within a country that the US Department of State has advised Reconsider Travel or Do Not Travel To (regardless of what the overall Advisory Level is for that country)

    While the US Department of State issues an overall Travel Advisory level for a country, levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country. For instance, they may advise at a country level to “Exercise Increased Caution” (Level 2), but to “Reconsider travel” to a particular area within the country.

    SIT’s policy is that within any country, a region designated by DOS as Reconsider Travel or Do Not Travel must go through the SIT Risk Committee review and approval process, even if that region is within a country that has a Level 1 or 2 designation for the country overall. Activities can proceed in other parts of the country if the country does not fall under SIT’s definition of Elevated Risk.