The safety of our participants (your students and your family) is our No. 1 priority at CIS Abroad. Many of us are parents of study abroad alumni, and we know our greatest responsibility is to develop and operate programs with the health and safety of our participants at the forefront of our decisions. We also know, from our own international experiences, that studying or working abroad involves a certain amount of risk. Our job is to mitigate these risks while providing the wonderful opportunities that only life abroad can offer, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to staffing our front-line emergency phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, CIS Abroad’s Emergency Response Team supports the larger work of the Risk Management Team (RMT). The RMT meets monthly to review incidents and examine our responses, ensuring that we adhere to guidelines from the Forum and NAFSA for best practices in risk management and emergency response.
Please see our FAQs available on our COVID-19 Updates page. Have additional questions not covered here or below? We’re happy to address any specific concerns you have.
CIS Abroad’s Risk Management Response to COVID-19
CIS Abroad’s original response to COVID-19, in 2020, can be found here: Guidelines for Re-starting International Travel and our three step process for mitigating and managing risk. In addition to the internal knowledge our company possesses in our team of seasoned professionals, our risk management and health, safety, and wellness guidelines are formulated using the recommendations of the two standards organizations in our field: the Forum on Education Abroad, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission as the Standards Development Organization for Education Abroad; and, NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the world’s largest nonprofit association dedicated to international education. The work that CIS Abroad has continued to do to monitor, review, update, and communicate COVID-19 related changes can be found here.
Careful Choice of Program Locations and Overseas Partners
We are very careful in selecting destinations for our programs. Potential new locations and partners are thoroughly evaluated by a senior staff member to ensure they meet our company’s needs for academic excellence, on-site services, and risk management. Once a program location has been developed and is up and running, we continuously monitor the situation in that country through our overseas partners, news channels, and the many professional organizations to which we belong. For our current program locations and how we are mitigating financial, academic, and health & safety risk, please refer to our Return to Travel Plan
Risk Management Training and Professional Development
We are vigilant about staying on top of the latest guidelines and protocols available to us in the field. We employ best practices as defined by the field of International Education, are involved in professional discussions and workshops, and also actively work with our U.S. based- and field staff on an ongoing basis to ensure we mitigate risks and are well prepared to manage situations should they arise.
We take extra measures to ensure that participants are fully prepared for any health and safety issues that may arise while abroad. Pre-departure, applicants are asked to disclose if there is anything in their medical history that could impact their time abroad. Our International Operations Team proactively reaches out to each student personally to discuss how they can successfully prepare and manage their individual needs in their host country whether that be the use of prescription medications in various parts of the world, if they have any physical challenges we need to take into account, or if we need to be aware of any mental health diagnoses. Students are also required to participate in a pre-departure orientation and in an on-site orientation given by our Site Director and/or partner university. Students become familiar with local laws, customs, emergency services, and what to do if an emergency or other health concern arises while abroad. Included in all programs is enrollment in International Medical and Accident Insurance, evacuation services, and a country-specific wallet-sized Emergency Information Card.
Experienced CIS Abroad Crisis and Emergency Response Team
CIS Abroad has a dedicated, appointed crisis and emergency team trained and at the ready to work with on-site staff, partners and participants in the event of a crisis or emergency. Our members continuously monitor world events through recognized health and safety channels and on-site contacts, and meet regularly and as needed to discuss and if necessary, act upon issues that may affect our program participants.
More information on specific guidelines related to mental health abroad, our emergency communication plan, health and accident insurance and news and updates are available on the health and safety section of our website. Should you have any other questions about our preparedness for the health and safety of our participants abroad, please do not hesitate to contact us at 413.582.0407 x 5011 or via e-mail at riskmanagement(at)cisabroad.com.