Health & Safety
The safety, security and well-being of study abroad program participants are of utmost importance to ISA High School. While neither ISA-HS nor ISA-HS’s affiliate universities can guarantee a risk-free environment, all efforts are made to best ensure the safety, security and well-being of our students and faculty participants throughout the duration of the program. ISA-HS follows prudent measures to verify that all transportation, lodging, medical facilities, communications, and emergency responses are in place to best provide a safe environment for the study abroad program and their participants. While ISA-HS is firmly committed to the provision of this support, we also emphasize to students, faculty and parents that all program participants must take responsibility for their own safety, security and well-being. This is highlighted in the ISA-HS Code of Conduct, in pre-departure materials, during on-site orientations and throughout their stay in the host country.
International Medical Insurance
Students submit a medical history form prior to departure so that the staff can be prepared to accommodate any health concerns. Resident staff members are equipped to help students receive quality medical care in the event of illness or injury. Comprehensive medical insurance is included in the program price and covers participants for the duration of the program.
The U.S.-based ISA staff is available during business hours Monday through Friday and after hours through a 24-hour emergency contact number. Prior to departure, the ISA staff provides participants and their families with abundant program-specific orientation information including handbooks, participant contact information, program itineraries, housing details and flight information.
On-Site Resident Staff
ISA-HS employs local resident staff at the majority of the program sites. Most were raised in the host city and all, without exception, are highly knowledgeable about the available facilities, customs, support services, and local people. A staff of anywhere from 1 to 6 full-time employees are available 24/7 to respond to the needs of the students. Resident staff members conduct on-site orientations to welcome students and discuss cultural expectations, safety concerns, guidelines for daily living, and country-specific history. Upon arrival, participants are provided with the names and cell phone numbers of all ISA staff, the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate information, the recommended local hospital, and the local equivalent of the emergency 911 number.
All resident staff members maintain familiarity with the program sites and of potentially unsafe areas. While there are no completely risk-free residential neighborhoods in any U.S. or foreign city, ISA-HS’s student housing accommodations are located in areas deemed lower risk. The same caution is exercised in the case of lodging during weekend excursions. Hotels are selected according to both the security of the area and proximity to cultural activities.
ISA-HS is consistent in utilizing the safest and most reliable transportation for ISA-HS sponsored travel. Travel companies are selected based on their prior safety records, insurance coverage, their administrative responsiveness, and the mutual trust that has developed as a result of the well-established relationship with the company.
Upon arrival all participants attend a mandatory orientation led by the resident staff, which contains useful information on the host culture as well as emergency situation procedures. Contact information for the staff and the local U.S. embassy or consulate is provided on an emergency card, which students are instructed to carry with them at all times. In the event of a crisis or emergency the following guidelines are followed:
Step 1: ISA resident staff makes immediate efforts to identify the problem and assess the situation (utilizing all resources available through the U.S. embassy, local authorities, media, etc.) and then coordinates an on-site response, as necessary.
Step 2: ISA resident staff attends to the students’ immediate needs.
Step 3: ISA resident staff contacts the U.S. staff immediately.
Step 4: U.S. staff contacts parents, local authorities, U.S. embassy and/or insurance company, as deemed necessary. ISA resident staff takes further action on site as needed, while U.S. staff acts in the U.S.
Step 5: ISA resident and U.S. staff follows up as necessary and/or appropriate.
In the event that an outbreak of war, a coup d'etat, terrorist activity, political instability, or a major natural disaster should occur at any of the ISA-HS program sites abroad, the procedures and support mechanisms outlined above provide the infrastructure required for ISA-HS to respond to the emergency. In addition, there are specific actions or procedures already in place in the event of such an occurrence. Utilizing the Council on International Educational Exchange General Security Precautions as a guideline, the following describes specific actions on-going at ISA-HS international sites:
- All ISA facilities abroad, if marked on the outside, are identified with a sign that has the ISA logo, acronym, and/or name of the organization. However, there is neither a sign nor flag identifying the building as being affiliated with the United States.
- All ISA-HS students are registered with the U.S. embassy and other appropriate government agencies upon arrival.
- ISA resident staff is knowledgeable about local police and other local sources of authority.
- ISA resident staff maintains up-to-date contact information (addresses and telephone numbers) for each student abroad and has clearly outlined procedures for contacting them in case of emergency.
- Program participants are provided with a wallet sized card during orientation with ISA resident staff home and cell phone numbers, U.S. embassy and consulate numbers, the name and number of the recommended local hospital, and the U.S. equivalent of “911.”
- Participants are instructed, in the case of an emergency event to return to their lodging and await contact from ISA-HS. Specific response plans will vary according to the situation at hand.
- Students are discouraged from congregating in groups of U.S. citizens or foreigners and from spending time in restaurants and bars that are known to be frequented primarily by foreigners.
ISA resident staff carries the U.S. embassy contact information with them at all times. The U.S. embassy is familiar with the ISA-HS program and has been provided with all ISA-HS contact information.
In the event that an international crisis prevents the program participants from returning to the U.S. at the end of the program, ISA-HS will ensure that students have proper lodging until the crisis is resolved. Once international travel is deemed safe and secure by the U.S. Department of State, ISA-HS will assist in arranging return to the U.S. ISA-HS will guarantee that these additional and unforeseen costs are covered for the participants until their return home. A careful accounting of these expenses will be maintained and the participants will be invoiced for the costs at that time.
Travel Advisories and Travel Warnings
ISA U.S. and resident staff remain up to date on all U.S. State Department Travel Advisories and Travel Warnings for the countries in which it operates. U.S. State Department issues advisories and warnings when recommending that U.S. citizens should exercise caution when traveling, avoid travel all together or evacuate a specific country. For further information about the U.S. State Department's public announcements, travel advisories and travel warnings, please visit the State Department website.
If the U.S. State Department issues an official Travel Warning for a country in which ISA-HS has a program, or if the U.S. State Department recommends evacuation from that particular country, ISA-HS will cancel the program in that country and refund all unspent program fees to those students already participating, or preparing to participate, in that particular program. If the program is cancelled due to a State Department Travel Warning prior to the program start date, ISA-HS will work with students to transfer to another ISA-HS program if they wish. Participants and accepted applicants are not necessarily entitled to any special refund privileges in the event of War. If a student withdraws from an ISA-HS program that has not been cancelled, the student is not eligible for any special refund. The standard refund policy applies.