[UPDATED] Novel Coronavirus COVID-19:
A Message from AMIGOS
We have made difficult decision to suspend AMIGOS 2020 Summer Programs and the Spring Gap Program in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For our most recent statement, please click here.
Updated March 16, 2020
AMIGOS is actively monitoring the development of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of the AMIGOS family, including each volunteer, host community member, chapter leader, and staff person, is our top priority. We continue to track the COVID-19 outbreak so we can stay on top of any potential impact on our programs.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 outbreak as well as how AMIGOS is monitoring the situation.
What is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.” Symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath, and appear between two and 14 days after exposure.
What is AMIGOS doing to monitor and prepare for COVID-19?
AMIGOS is actively monitoring the spread of the virus. We are also following advice from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, the Peace Corps, and other global health experts. Our safety and risk management team, including our Medical Director, have been in regular discussions to assess any potential risk to our volunteers and staff and to plan for various scenarios related to the outbreak.
What measures has AMIGOS implemented to protect current volunteers, chapter leaders, and staff?
We have distributed information about how to stay safe, and we are reiterating the CDC’s guidelines for hygiene and disease prevention.
- We ask that volunteers, chapter leaders, and staff take the following precautions to keep themselves healthy and protect others:
- If you are feeling sick or having signs of a cold or cough, please stay home and rest.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap is not available, please use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover all coughs and sneezes with a tissue, dispose of the tissue immediately in a wastebasket, and proceed to wash one’s hands.
- Keep a healthy distance from people who are coughing and sneezing.
- Disinfect frequently-used surfaces such as laptops, work-spaces, cell phones, keys, and doorknobs.
- Avoid touching your face and mouth.
- If a family member is experiencing signs of the flu, cough, or cold, please do not attend AMIGOS gatherings.
What if a volunteer feels they have COVID-19 while on an AMIGOS program?
Our Health, Safety, and Travel Guidelines, developed through more than 55 years of experience running programs in Latin America, instruct AMIGOS volunteers to contact their project staff if they experience symptoms of any ailment, including COVID-19. If a volunteer is unsure of the severity of their symptoms, they are advised to err on the side of caution by contacting AMIGOS staff.
All volunteers receive general and country-specific health and safety training and a personalized plan to activate in case of any illness or emergency. AMIGOS has a network of trusted health care professionals and facilities in our work areas as well as physicians based in the U.S. who are on-call 24/7 while students are traveling.
What would cause an AMIGOS Program to be suspended or relocated?
AMIGOS is following guidance from the CDC, WHO, U.S. State Department, health ministries abroad, and our network of medical professionals as we consider any changes to AMIGOS Programs.
The health and safety of our volunteers, staff, host community members, and chapter leaders is our number one priority. We will communicate directly with these groups if we make any changes to our 2020 programs.
Will I get a refund if the program is canceled?
Yes, you will receive a refund if AMIGOS Programs are suspended due to COVID-19. The amount of the refund will depend on the program and whether you are a National or Local Chapter volunteer. All volunteers may carry over any fees paid and funds raised to the next program year and they will be given priority placement on the program of their choice.
National Chapter volunteers who wish not to hold over their funds for next year will receive a full refund of the program fee minus the deposit and application fee. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Admissions Team at [email protected].
Local Chapter volunteers who choose not to hold over their funds for next year will receive refunds according to the financial agreement made between the local chapter and the family. Please contact your local chapter for details or reach out to our Chapter Operations Team at [email protected] and they will direct you the appropriate contact person.
How often can volunteers and families expect communication from AMIGOS regarding coronavirus updates?
The AMIGOS safety and risk management team, including our Medical Director and on-call physicians, are meeting regularly to discuss COVID-19. We will communicate any new information about our programs or protocols directly to volunteers and families. We will also update this post with any new developments.
Should you have any questions, or wish to talk with someone on the AMIGOS team, please feel free to reach out to AMIGOS at any time at 713-782-5290, or by contacting [email protected].