Update on the AFS Response to COVID-19
AFS Intercultural Programs is closely monitoring the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the measures and actions by global health experts and government officials, including the declaration by the World Health Organization of the COVID-19 pandemic. In these circumstances many countries have started to suspend schools, closed borders, and enforced strict quarantine measures.
In light of these ongoing developments, AFS Intercultural Programs is implementing a coordinated plan to bring home participants where possible and safe. Here at AFS Interculture South Africa we are working individually with each participant and family to arrange for what is best for them in the current circumstances. AFS will continue to provide all programme support and services to those participants that must remain under the care of the host family for the time being.
Concerning the stay of participants in the US, we are carefully reviewing the situation with AFS USA and will inform as soon as there is any update to share.
We are committed to returning students in the safest way possible. We strongly believe it is in the best interest of our participants to be back with their families in their home countries. Return travel plans will take into consideration official information from reliable sources, like the World Health Organisation and national governments, as well as the urgency and safety of moving our participants. However, if it is not possible for a participant to travel, AFS will continue to provide all programme support and services, until it becomes possible for them to return to their home country. AFS staff and volunteers remain in all countries and cities, and available to assist all participants.
We believe this decision is in the best interest of our participants and volunteers, as well as our host and natural families. But this is not a decision we reached lightly. As leaders in global intercultural education, we know first-hand the transformative nature of the full exchange experience for participants, families and volunteers. It saddens us to bring these experiences to an early end.
We are committed to sound prevention practices, before and after our participants return.
AFS will do everything it can to ensure that participants who are sick do not travel. This means complying with mandatory temperature checks and other health screenings enforced by local governments. We will reinforce to participants returning to their home countries that they must follow local public health mandates and recommendations to continue to mitigate the potential spread of COVID-19, including, where appropriate, self-isolation.
We continue to prepare for future programmes. With more than 70 years of experience, AFS is dedicated to our mission of intercultural learning and exchange, and we are moving ahead with planning for future programmes.
If you wish to speak to someone at AFS, please use the following approach:
- For the current programmes, students and families of AFS Interculture South Africa please contact [email protected]
- Any general inquiries should be directed to [email protected].
While it was our sincere wish to see these programmes through to their previously scheduled completion, we remain deeply grateful to our participants and their families for their trust in AFS and for their interest in participating in such a powerful experience. We look forward to welcoming you to our global family of 500,000 AFS alumni.
Thank you for your understanding as we work through these rapidly changing times.