Covid-19 Health & Safety Measures

THE CHANGING NATURE OF COVID-19 RISK MANAGEMENT

Updated August 2022

COVID-19 continues to impact the world. Both the virus and our understanding of it continues to evolve. While the pandemic isn’t over, it is quite possible that the acute and emergency phase may be. Throughout the world, many countries have noted that the number of COVID-19 cases seems to no longer be coupled with severely ill and hospitalized cases as it once was earlier in the pandemic. In addition, strategies to contain and even eliminate the virus have largely been abandoned or significantly reduced, including in the United States. The newest Omicron variants have taught us that complete virus elimination is nearly impossible, and even the most basic mitigation measures don’t seem to slow the virus from spreading. Amizade’s approaches therefore will continue to change as our culture and ethics around the virus change. 

Our general understanding is that the shift to this new phase of the pandemic has been attributed to:

    • A higher rate of vaccination and higher availability of vaccines and boosters,
    • A higher number of people who have previously or recently been infected, 
    • Increasing availability of treatment options, and 
    • New seemingly less-dangerous variants.

Amizade aims to align its policies with this new phase of the pandemic, while also ensuring the health and safety of our participants and the communities where we work, and ensuring an excellent experience. Amizade is shifting its policies away from a one-size-fits-all approach (masking, testing, isolating, quarantining, contact-tracing, etc…) and towards a more site-specific and program response. 

Going forward, and effective immediately, Amizade will abide by the CDCs quarantine and testing suggestions, while emphasizing a more locally-informed approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that Amizade’s response will shift to mirror the local health regulations in the communities where we work. Local regulations and societal norms on masking, testing, isolating, quarantines and contact-tracing will guide Amizade’s actions in each of the communities where we work. 

Amizade will begin to treat COVID-19 like it treats many other potentially infectious illnesses. Most of the United States no longer requires the use of masks at all times, yet the CDC recommends these mitigation measures if an individual is actively experiencing symptoms or in crowded or indoor spaces experiencing high community spread. We will take a similar approach.  As should be done with any other illness, participants experiencing symptoms will be asked to use mitigation techniques to reduce the spread of the illness, such as testing, masking, social distancing and isolating away from fellow participants until symptoms subside but a mandate for healthy participants will not be enforced. 

Your health, safety and wellbeing will continue to be our highest priority. As a result, our ongoing mitigation and response measures will focus on the following strategies.

HOW WE WILL KEEP YOU SAFE

Additional health and safety information will continue to be shared during orientation, including reminders on Covid-19 symptoms, local health facilities, local regulations and norms, and how to minimize possible infection. This information will continue to change on a month-to-month, and even a day-to-day basis.  

All volunteers and staff are required to be fully vaccinated according to CDC guidelines, including available boosters, 14 days prior to departure. Medical exemptions and previous infection will be considered only after a formal request is submitted by the participant.

Participants will be reminded that they play a key role in protecting their health as well as the health of their fellow participants, host families, Amizade staff, and communities. If a participant experiences any symptoms or is concerned about their health, a test should be administered and necessary steps taken to protect the health of those around them.

All volunteers and staff are required to have an antigen test for Covid-19 within 72 hours prior to travel, where possible. If a positive result occurs, participants are advised to immediately confirm with a PCR test. If positive again, participants are not allowed to join the program and advised to self-isolate and consult their physician.

All accommodations, including homestays, will follow strict disinfecting standards prior to and during your stay, including increased frequency and depth of cleaning. 

Antibacterial spray/wipes and alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be available at all accommodations and volunteer placements.

Mask usage will be dictated by local regulations and community expectations. For both staff and participants, as should be done with any contagious disease, if an individual is experiencing symptomatic disease/illness, they should not participate until those symptoms fully resolve, regardless of local guidelines.

Participants and community members will be asked to maintain a greater physical distance from one another.

Participants will be assisted if they need testing, advice and/or treatment, and an Amizade facilitator will be available to navigate in-country quarantine requirements and any other program disruptions.

All participants traveling internationally will be provided with comprehensive travel and health insurance. All domestic travelers will be mandated to carry health insurance.

Excursions, cultural experiences and in-country travel may be limited based on COVID-19 outbreaks and Amizade reserves the right to adjust itineraries accordingly.

MORE RESOURCES

Check out other resources put together by Amizade.

All of our volunteers should also take personal responsibility for their own health and the safety of others. Please do not travel if you are feeling ill or if there is a risk you may be an asymptomatic carrier of Covid-19 – for example, if you have been exposed to an infected individual within the 14 days before you start your Amizade program.

 

A NOTE ON VACCINATIONS

We are hopeful that the majority of our network will be vaccinated by Fall 2021, but we must be patient. This means we cannot guarantee that every person you interact with on a program will be vaccinated. At this stage, you should expect that your host community may be under some COVID restrictions, and your host community may still be receiving vaccinations when you arrive.

 

A MESSAGE TO OUR COMMUNITY

We want to take a moment to express our solidarity with the international community during this very complex and difficult time. We are learning details and attempting to get information to you as quickly as possible. This has proven to be very difficult during such a rapidly fluid situation. As a small non-profit organization, we appreciate your understanding as we navigate our situation as well. Our host communities and program participants have always been, and will remain, our greatest priorities. If we can help support you, please let us know.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Additional information on Amizade’s COVID-19 response can be found here.