April 4 Message Sent to All Current Thai Host Students and Host Families From AFS-USA President, Tara Hofmann

April 4 Message Sent to All Current Thai Host Students and Host Families From AFS-USA President, Tara Hofmann

*The following message has been sent to all current Thai host students and their families.*


Dear Host Families and Students,

We hope you and your family are doing as well as can be expected right now. This year, AFS-USA had nearly 1,900 teens on exchange programs in the United States. Some of our students have successfully returned home to their families while hundreds of others await word of their travel arrangements or are sheltering-in-place as they are unable to travel.

Yesterday, you heard from AFS Staff, that the Royal Thai Consulate in the US informed us that the Thai government has put into immediate effect, the prohibition of all entry of travelers to Thailand—including Thai nationals. The message from the Consulate reached us at 12:57 pm yesterday and went into effect immediately. There was no advance notice given. The Consulate explained in their letter that this is being done ‘in preparation for the facilities needed for the state quarantine.’ We were also advised that the prohibition on entry into Thailand for all travelers is expected to remain in effect until April 15th (and we say that with caution, understanding that their decisions can change).

Therefore, as has been communicated, all student flight plans from the US to Thailand are cancelled for now. Our staff and volunteers are working to ensure that all Thai students who were already in transit to Thailand return to their US host families.

When the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, AFS International, the governing body of 50+ AFS organizations worldwide, made the difficult but necessary decision to end programs early and return students to their families. As parts of Asia were hit so hard by the pandemic, AFS International wanted to give some time before returning students to Thailand.

Then, as you know so well, once plans were put in motion to repatriate Thai students, there were daily, sometimes hourly changes from the Royal Thai Embassy and Foreign Ministry to the instructions for the reentry requirements for Thai Nationals. This caused confusion and anxiety for many of you, as well as our staff. We are so thankful for your constant support to go to every possible length to keep responding to those changes.

Many of us at AFS-USA have been exchange students and host parents ourselves. Through our personal experiences and work, we understand what a huge disappointment this can be for students who were hoping to see their families in a matter of days. Likewise, we understand the sacrifices that host families have made and will continue to make as we ask them and their hosted students to shelter-in-place longer.

AFS Thailand has been speaking with the parents/guardians of Thai students, as they too are anxious and concerned at being unable to have their teens home right now. Groups of parents have met (or plan to meet) with the Ministry of Education in Thailand.

All of this is to say how regretful we are to have to share this news with you and how sad we are to have to bring this disappointment to our students from Thailand. We thank you all for everything you are doing and enduring during these unprecedented times. We will continue to be in touch as we move closer to April 15th.

From all of us, we thank you and wish you good health in the weeks ahead.


Tara M. Hofmann
President & CEO