COVID 19 update: We are aware of the new Covid-19 variant, and the impact it is currently having on international travel. We are proceeding with our plans for our programs in 2021 and 2022, but we are monitoring the situation carefully and will update volunteers as more information becomes available. If you have any concerns, feel free to contact us. 30 November 2021
COVID-19 continues to significantly alter the risk landscape all over the world.
From the beginning of the pandemic through the current semester, Amani Hostel has adapted its approach to monitoring and managing risk to meet the dynamic challenges as they emerge. This has meant looking beyond traditional risk indicators and factoring new developments like vaccines and updated guidance from the scientific and health community into our risk mitigation protocols.
In summer 2021, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) made significant changes to its Travel Advisory system by updating the methodology used for determining COVID-19 related risks. As a result of this new methodology, a large percentage of the world’s countries have registered a Level 4 (Do Not Travel). However, the DOS Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) makes clear that these heightened Travel Advisories are not designed to single out new risks in specific countries and should not be viewed “as a singular tripwire” to evacuate staff or cut programs the moment a Travel Advisory level is increased. Rather, the new methodology and advisories are best utilized when considered alongside other indicators and factors.
In line with OSAC advice, Amani Hostel believes the best approach to assessing and managing risk in the current environment is a holistic one. Consequently, Amani Hostel will not use DOS Level 4 as a sole tripwire for deciding whether to run or continue to run a program. Instead, Amani Hostel will continue to be informed by a deep analysis of all relevant data and information and will utilize that overall analysis to make decisions. Amani Hostel’s approach is described in the following paragraphs.
Amani Hostel has implemented the following protocol:
– Local regulations include mask-wearing, hand sanitizer at entry, body temperature taken at entry, social distancing.
– We are disinfecting surfaces multiple times per day for public areas and classrooms.
– Communication on-site, through in-person meetings and posters in high visibility areas at each institute.
– Amani Hostel has a Response Team that monitors official communications daily.
Risk Assessment and Management Methodology
Daily, Amani Hostel monitors ongoing and evolving risks in each country including crime, terrorism, political instability, civil unrest, natural disasters, and public health matters. We rely on a variety of tools and resources for identifying and assessing the actual or potential risk to students and staff. They include International SOS (medical and travel risk ratings); the U.S. Department of State (Travel Advisories); the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Travel Health Notices); the Overseas Security Advisory Council (Country Crime and Safety Reports); U.S. Embassies (in countries of operation); and the World Health Organization (WHO).
During periods of heightened health risks such as COVID-19, Amani Hostel maintains a tracker (which is posted on the AMANI HOSTEL website in the Advisor Portal) where specific indicators related to the virus are tracked and updated weekly. Key indicators include
1. number of new daily cases;
2. number of new cases per 100,000 people;
3. mortality rate;
4. testing positivity rate;
5. WHO transmission classification;
6. International SOS risk ratings for travel, medical, and COVID-19 impact;
7. DOS Travel Advisory level;
8. CDC Health Advisory Level; and
9. vaccination rates. Amani Hostel also closely monitors actions taken by the governments in the countries where our programs operate, such as movement restrictions or quarantine requirements that would potentially impact programs.
Finally, Amani Hostel leverages the expertise and knowledge of our experienced host country faculty and staff, who provide us with updates about issues of concern and potential impact to our students and centers. Our local faculty and staff have extensive networks that include local authorities, U.S. embassy services, and informal sources—all of which help to inform our decisions about programs.
This holistic and comprehensive information is used to inform a detailed country Risk Assessment, as well as our program-specific contingency plans, conducted for every location that Amani Hostel is considering for programs. Risk Assessments consider health risks, such as COVID-19, as well as a multitude of risks unrelated to health. The Risk Assessment for any individual Amani Hostel program is available upon request.
Risk Assessment Committee
Amani Hostel maintains a Risk Assessment Committee comprised of senior-level staff and chaired by the director of security. The committee uses the risk assessments to make decisions about which programs can run safely.
Risk Assessments for approved programs are updated on a regular basis to ensure that significant changes to the risk landscape are factored into planning and implementation. We have also institutionalized an approach wherein the Risk Assessment Committee and faculty meet prior to the start of the program to finalize the health and safety protocols, in addition to maintaining regular check-ins throughout the semester and any time a risk variable increases, so that we can ensure the program is well supported.
If Amani Hostel determines that a program cannot run (due to COVID-19 or any other reason), affected students and their home institutions will be notified as soon as possible to allow students to make alternative arrangements. Such announcements are generally made approximately one to three months before the start of a program. Where possible, and with the approval of students’ home institutions, affected students will be given the opportunity to transfer their enrollment to another active Amani Hostel program that aligns with their academic interests.
Risk Management Plans
When it is determined that it is safe for a program to run, we utilize our Risk Assessment to develop a detailed Risk Management Plan. These plans include standard Amani Hostel protocols as well as customized risk mitigation measures based on the specific risks identified in the assessment process. The Risk Management Plan for any individual Amani Hostel program is available upon request.
A growing body of evidence suggests that those who are fully vaccinated are less likely to be infected and thus potentially less likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition, it is expected that countries increasingly will require vaccine verification as a requirement for entry. As part of our commitment to ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of students, staff, and global host communities, Amani Hostel requires students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the start of their program.
We have adopted this policy to safeguard the health of our students, our faculty and staff, and their families, partners, homestay families, and the community at large from COVID-19. We also anticipate that this approach will better allow us to deliver the immersive academic and cultural experience students expect from Amani Hostel.
Students will verify their vaccination status by uploading a scanned copy of their official vaccination card into their post-acceptance Amani Hostel application portal.
Petitioning the Vaccination Requirement
Amani Hostel understands that there are legitimate reasons for not being vaccinated against COVID-19. We provide students the opportunity to petition for an exemption to our vaccination requirement on the grounds of medical reasons, sincerely held religious beliefs, or vaccine unavailability. Petitions will be reviewed by Amani Hostel’s Risk Assessment Committee as long as they do not present undue hardship and/or pose a direct threat to the health and safety of the requesting student or to other members of our programs. Students will receive a final decision on their petition no later than two weeks after the official submission date. Approval of any petition is contingent upon vaccinations not being mandated by host country governments as a requirement for entry.
PLANNING YOUR INTERNSHIP WITH CONFIDENCE
Travel has been hugely impacted by COVID-19, and our internships in Africa are no exception. But we’ve adjusted our booking policies so it’s risk-free to book, and easier to change your travel plans, should this be necessary. We’ve also added more online internships – they allow you to do an internship with an African nonprofit but from the comfort of your own home.
- Should COVID-19 restrictions make it impossible for you to travel at the start of your internship; you’ll be able to postpone your internship for any amount of time, at no extra cost. (This applies if borders are closed or if circumstances around the pandemic make it impossible to travel.)
Safety comes first, and we can assure you that we’re closely monitoring the situation in each country we work in, and making adjustments on the ground so that our interns, staff members, and nonprofit partners are all able to continue to do important humanitarian and conservation work. If you have any specific concerns or questions about your destination, please let us know!
- You can track the worldwide situation here; https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.
- For country-specific information about the COVID-19 situation in the country, please check the links below:
DOES MY TRAVEL INSURANCE COVER ME IF I NEED TO CANCEL MY INTERNSHIP?
This depends entirely on your specific insurance. Most insurance companies offer a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage, which would cover for a percentage of the loss, depending on the level of CFAR coverage purchased, and provided the trip is canceled more than 48 hours prior to scheduled departure. Please ask your insurance company the right questions to ensure that you are covered.
- Roots Interns is not responsible for any incidental expenses that an intern may have incurred as a result of the booking, such as visas, vaccinations, non-refundable flights, etc.
- We urge you to take out premium travel insurance that will cover cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please make sure your policy will cover you if the Covid-19 pandemic is the reason for you to revise your plans.
WHAT IF I WANT TO POSTPONE MY INTERNSHIP?
If you’re unable to travel because of the pandemic, you will be able to postpone your internship. If this specific internship has not available at a later date of your choice, we will make sure to find you another suitable position. We will re-book you at no extra cost.
FAQs about COVID-19 & Travel in 2022
Updated: February 8th, 2022
This is a general FAQ and resource reflecting current policies and information. Prior to departure, we will share the most current COVID-19 considerations, information, and expectations with students and families in their digital locker.
What is your current thinking on COVID-19 and travel?
The pandemic has upended the rhythms of our lives, in particular how we learn and work, and has challenged our ability to chart our courses into the future. In the face of so much uncertainty, we know one thing—young people need human connection more than ever. We also understand that traveling today requires special care in planning, flexibility, and prudence to ensure the safety of our students, leaders, destination partners, and host communities around the world.
Our approach is guided by our more than seven decades of experience running educational travel programs for young people, as well as safely running programs in both 2021 and 2022. We have learned from our many programming successes of the past two years and continue to adapt our robust health and safety practices to changing circumstances.
In 2021, we ran a full calendar of hugely successful high school, middle school, and Gap student programs in the U.S. and abroad. Program destinations ranged from domestic options in New England, Hawaii, and Alaska to international programs in Europe, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa. We worked carefully with our destination partners and host communities to execute our programs safely and in some cases with slight modifications in place to ensure the highest program quality and experience.
Looking ahead to summer 2022, we are excited to offer a diverse array of high school and middle school programs around the world and we are confident our 71st summer will be full of learning, adventure, opportunity, and fun. We believe that students need this more than ever and we invite you to find the perfect program for you!
Does AMANI HOSTEL require COVID-19 vaccination?
Yes, we require all students and Amani Hostel leaders and experts to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.
- What health and safety guidelines have you put in place?
We have developed health and safety guidelines informed by the latest recommendations of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), international and destination health authorities, trusted local contacts, and other travel industry guidance. We also closely monitor the U.S. Department of State travel advisories, the guidance of government officials around the world, and major media outlets so that we can quickly and effectively respond to potential travel restrictions or policy changes in the destinations we visit. Our approach is particular to each destination, meeting or exceeding the minimum requirements of each country or locality.
Students should anticipate the following health and safety measures when traveling with AMANI HOSTEL. Prior to departure, we will share the most current COVID-19 considerations, information, and expectations with students and families.
- We require all students and Amani Hostel leaders and experts to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and complete any pre-trip testing or quarantine as required by the destination (Putney will inform you of any destination-specific requirements prior to departure).
- The CDC requires airlines to collect proof of a negative COVID-19 test completed within one day of the date of your return flight for all travelers (including U.S. citizens) returning to the U.S. from abroad. Assuming this policy is still in place upon your return, MANI HOSTEL will arrange for this test to be completed in the program destination and families will be invoiced.
- Daily wellness checks.
- Strict adherence to hand washing and personal hygiene.
- Wearing face masks in public when in close proximity to others who are not part of our group as required by local guidelines, destination partners, or Amani Hostel.
- Wearing KN95 face masks (which offer a higher level of filtration) while flying to and from your program and in settings during the program where physical distancing is not feasible. See your program’s Packing List for details.
- Physical distancing to the greatest extent possible when in public and when around others who are not part of our group.
- Adapting our approach to programming, such as shifting activities and meals outdoors, when feasible.
- Will the group operate as a single unit?
Our comprehensive health and safety measures described here ensure with the greatest possible certainty that we are beginning the program with a healthy group and allow us to travel as a “family” on the program. While in private settings or isolated outdoors, students can interact with each other without masks or being physically distanced. However, when in public and when interacting with others outside of their group, participants will abide by all AMANI HOSTEL health and safety measures, including physical distancing and masking.
The majority of Amani Hostel programs are small group experiences of 14-18 individuals who will operate as a single unit. On larger programs, such as our Pre-College programs, multiple units may be created within the program.
- Could my program get canceled due to COVID-19?
Yes, it could. If we cancel a program before departure and you don’t have a second choice, we will refund 100% of your tuition payment and application fee.
- What if my program is forced to end early while in the field?
If we decide it’s best to end a program early, we will refund prorated room and board expenses that we are able to recover.
- What happens if a student shows symptoms of COVID-19 while on a program?
If a student presents symptoms consistent with COVID-19 while on the program, their leader will help them minimize contact with other members of the group and a COVID-19 test will be taken as soon as possible. AMANI HOSTEL is familiar with testing locations at each destination, but we also strongly recommend that all students bring a COVID-19 self-test kit to their program.
- What happens if a student tests positive for COVID-19 while on the program?
If a student were to test positive for COVID-19, parents of all participants would be immediately notified. The specific response would be highly dependent on the situation, with consideration to be given to the destination, timing of the incident, and local and national health protocols. It is likely that a parent would be asked to accompany the student during their quarantine/recovery, but our group leader or representative would be present until the arrival of a parent. The cost of healthcare, accommodation, meals, travel, and any other costs associated with the period of quarantine is to be covered by the family.
In the event that a student tests positive for COVID-19 on the test required for return travel to the United States, the entire group may be required to quarantine at the destination for up to two weeks, which would extend beyond the return date of the program.
- In what ways might my program itinerary be modified due to COVID-19 precautions?
As we look toward summer 2022, we are evaluating our accommodations, transportation providers, and programmed activities to ensure that protocols regarding masking, physical distancing, and cleaning meet our standards. Small modifications to planned activities may be made to ensure that health and safety standards will be met. Destination requirements regarding arrival or in-country testing may continue to evolve between now and program departure. Families will be notified of any anticipated modifications as early as possible.
- I’m an international student. Should I be worried about not being allowed into my trip destination country or out of my country of residence?
If a student who resides outside of the U.S. is unable to participate in one of our programs because either their government prohibits them from leaving their home country or the government at the destination prohibits them from entering, AMANI HOSTEL will give a 100% refund up to 30 days prior to departure. If there is still a perceived threat 30 days prior to departure, please call us and we can work together to decide how best to proceed. Non-U.S. citizens must also check the local visa and health requirements, including requirements for countries passed through in transit to the program destination.
- What can I expect from AMANI HOSTEL as my program approaches?
At Amani Hostel, our students and their families have come to expect good judgment, thoughtful and clear communication, and a commitment to the core mission of our programs, as well as the safety of our students, leaders, and local contacts. As always, we will be in close contact with enrolled families as we plan for your program, and prior to your departure, we will share the most current COVID-19 considerations, information, and expectations pertaining to your destination. Feel free to give us a call—we are happy to answer your questions!