Update Sent From AFS-USA President to All Natural Parents of Non-Sponsored Programs Students Abroad

Update Sent From AFS-USA President to All Natural Parents of Non-Sponsored Programs Students Abroad

*This email was sent to Natural Parents of Non-Sponsored Programs Students Currently on Program Abroad (Sending Participants)*


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. Given these circumstances, as you know many countries have started to suspend schools, close borders, and enforce strict quarantine measures. AFS is implementing a coordinated plan to bring home sending participants where possible and safe. We are prioritizing how we work based upon the situations in each country, and in some cases regions of a country, logistics, and availability of travel.

We believe that it is in the best interest of our participants to be back with their families in their home countries and we are committed to returning students home in the best possible way.

Return travel plans will take into consideration official information from reliable sources, as well as the urgency to move participants in a coordinated way based on priority. If we deem it is not possible for a participant to travel, AFS will continue to provide program support and services until it becomes possible for them to return to their home country. AFS staff and volunteers are available to assist all participants.

We believe that this decision and way of working 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 and it saddens us to bring these experiences to an early end.

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. Prior to your child’s return, please become familiar with any updated guidance on safety rules so that, once your child returns home, you can take any necessary steps that may reduce the risk of infection. Host families and volunteers will also provide advice to them before they depart, but please continue to monitor the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control websites.

While it was our sincere wish to see these programs 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.

We are working now with our global colleagues to arrange each student’s return. We’ve been asked to swiftly arrange the flight(s) for our students, again depending on international flight availability. We have already started this process and will share all logistical information with you as soon as possible.

Our next step in this process will be to inform you of travel arrangements (if we haven’t discussed them with you already).

This is an unprecedented undertaking as AFS has close to 10,000 students in more than 50 countries throughout the world. We are responding to individual requests as best as we are able. We hope this communication will help to address your most critical questions and need for information. We will continue to keep you informed before students begin their departures home.

As always, thank you for your confidence and trust in AFS-USA.

With warm regards,

Tara M. Hofmann
President & CEO