The following alerts are based on ISA's direct observation, U.S. Department of State recommendations, Overseas Security Advisory Council, WHO reports, and expert consultation.
November 25, 2016 at 6:45 pm CST
On Thursday, November 24th, Hurricane Otto made landfall as a Category 2 storm on Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, just north of the Costa Rican border, and was downgraded back to a tropical storm today as it moved away from Central America and over the Pacific. ISA Resident Staff reports that San Jose and Heredia were minimally affected by rains yesterday and today, and ISA staff was able to host scheduled activities with students last night without issue. Universidad Latina and Universidad Veritas have both reopened and classes have resumed. ISA staff is continuing to closely monitor the situation and advise students accordingly.
November 24, 2016 at 11:15 am CST
On Thursday, November 24th, Tropical Storm Otto was upgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane as it nears the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Consequently, Costa Rica's Comision Nacional de Emergencies has issued a red alert, the highest on its three tiered system, for many areas of the country. However, San Jose and Heredia remain under yellow alert. The Costa Rican government has ordered all public schools and government offices to close as a precaution. The Universidad Latina in Heredia has closed for the day and the Universidad Veritas in San Jose cancelled morning classes. Officials are advising all citizens to exercise caution, especially when traveling in red alert areas as roads are expected to be affected for the next several days. Otto is expected to make landfall on Thursday in Nicaragua, just north of the Costa Rican border, and additional strengthening of the storm is possible before landfall.
ISA Resident Staff continues to monitor the situation and advise students accordingly .
November 23, 2016 at 3:15 pm CST
On Monday, November 21st, Costa Rica's Comisión Nacional de Emergencies (National Emergency Commission) issued a yellow alert, the second highest in a three tier system, for the country as Tropical Storm Otto approached and was expected to reach hurricane strength by time it made landfall later in the week. Otto was downgraded to a tropical storm early on Wednesday, November 23rd, however, a hurricane warning continues along the coast from Limon, Costa Rica, to Bluefields, Nicaragua and a hurricane watch is in effect for the coast south of Limon to the Costa Rica and Panama border.
ISA program locations in San José and Heredia are expected to receive heavy rain in the coming days, however, major disruption in the cities is not anticipated. ISA host universities are currently remaining open. The ISA Costa Rica Resident Director has reached out to all ISA fall students to remind them of safe practices and ask them to confirm their safety for their families back home. Students have been advised to exercise increase caution in the coming days and postpone any weekend travel until the storm has passed and all advisories have been lifted. ISA will continue to monitor the situation and advise students accordingly.
Fukushima Prefecture, November 21st at 6:00 p.m. CST
On Tuesday, November 22nd at approximately 6:00 a.m. local time, an approximate 7.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima resulting in a tsunami warning for the Fukushima prefecture. The Japan Meteorological Agency advised that the tsunami could be an estimated 3 meters high, and residents in the area have been advised to evacuate to higher ground. Fukushima is approximately 239 kilometers (149 miles) northeast of Tokyo. ISA's Tokyo resident director reported that the earth's movement was felt in Tokyo, but that all remained relatively calm there. The resident director has reached out to ISA students, reminding them of safe practices during an earthquake and in its immediate aftermath. Students have been advised to contact their families back home to confirm their safety. ISA will continue to monitor the situation and advise students accordingly.
Sunday, November 13th at 10:00 pm CST
As of 3:30 pm on November 14th (local time), New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management lifted the tsunami warning for all areas. Aftershocks are still likely to occur and New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management warns that coastal areas may continue to experience unusual and strong currents; residents are reminded to be cautious.
ISA resident staff have communicated with ISA New Zealand students. All ISA students with on-going programs in New Zealand in Auckland (host university, The University of Auckland), Palmerston North (host university, Massey University - Palmerston North) and Wellington (host university, Massey University - Wellington), have been accounted for as safe. ISA's program in Christchurch, the program location closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, ended on November 11th. All students who participated in the Christchurch program and reported remaining abroad after their program ended have checked in with their resident staff as safe. ISA's programs in Auckland (host university, AUT University), Dunedin (host university, University of Otago), and Wellington (host university, Victoria University), have also ended, and most students have returned to the U.S. Any students who participated in one of those programs and reported remaining abroad have been asked to check in and contact their families at home. ISA New Zealand interns currently abroad have been accounted for as safe.
We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will continue to advise students accordingly.
Sunday, November 13th at 10:30 am CST
Shortly after midnight on Monday, November 14th (local time), an earthquake with an approximate 7.8-magnitude hit New Zealand's South Island in the Canterbury region, approximately 59 miles north of Christchurch. A series of aftershocks followed and, according to New Zealand's Ministry of Civil Defense and Emergency Management, a tsunami warning has been issued for all coastal areas in New Zealand. There are some reports of the first waves that already hit the coast of the South Island and authorities are monitoring for damage. At the time of posting, there have been no reports of fatalities or serious injuries. Damage to houses, roads and bridges has been reported.
ISA is currently messaging all program participants in New Zealand with safety information, asking them to check in and to contact their families back home to let them know they are safe. ISA programs in Christchurch concluded on November 11th and programs in Dunedin concluded on November 13th; we are currently asking any participants in those locations who did not depart the country to check-in with ISA and their families at home. We are continuing to closely monitor the situation and will advise students accordingly.
Cape Town and Port Elizabeth
November 7, 2016
On Monday, November 7th, the University of Cape Town successfully started its final exam period after its administration reached a compromise with the student protestors. The on campus exam period is expected to proceed without interruption and ISA students who have elected to take exams in Cape Town during this period will return to campus. The University of the Western Cape also started its exam period today, however, without a similar compromise in place, afternoon exams were disrupted by protests. Police used water cannons to disperse student protestors. No ISA students were on campus at the time and all ISA students attending the University of the Western Cape have been accounted for as safe. ISA students attending Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University are communicating with their professors to finalize their course work. ISA is continuing to work with all currently abroad students to finalize their plans to complete their studies, including assisting with applications for deferred exams and advising on the online exam process once students return to the U.S. ISA resident staff remain in close communication with abroad students to ensure that all necessary steps are followed so each student can successfully complete the semester.
All ISA South Africa Spring 2017 programs are scheduled to run, with University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape setting new dates as a result of the changes to the fall exam periods. ISA South Africa program staff have been in communication with Spring 2017 students and their home universities regarding the date changes.
October 21, 2016
Protests at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University continued to escalate throughout the week with reports of vandalism and clashes between students and police. ISA students were kept updated on the situation on campus and advised to avoid campus. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University administration is currently in the process of considering alternatives to face to face lectures in efforts to ensure that students complete their semester successfully. The University of the Western Cape decided this week to suspend face to face lectures for the remainder of the semester, and similar to the University of Cape Town, is making provisions with students to complete semester coursework using online platforms and written materials. ISA resident staff is promptly updating students with information on academic accommodations released by the host universities and working with students to help prepare them for successfully completing their studies. ISA students remain safe as we continue to monitor the situation on each of our host university campuses.
October 18, 2016
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University attempted to reopen today as planned but escalated student demonstrations, during which protesters clashed with police on campus, resulted in campus closures. ISA resident staff contacted all students advising them to stay off campus, and ISA students remained safe. The University of the Western Cape did not reopen and the University of Cape Town's library hours and shuttle services were intermittently disrupted throughout the day as protests continued on both campuses. ISA resident staff continues to monitor the situation and update students accordingly. All housing for ISA students remains unaffected by protest activity.
October 17, 2016
Normal operations at the University of Cape Town were disrupted today as "Fees Must Fall" protests escalated on campus. A group of approximately 100 students had several clashes with security personnel on campus, vandalized campus facilities and interrupted lectures. All ISA students are safe and accounted for, and were not on campus during today's incidents. Due to today's protests, face-to-face lectures at UCT have been suspended for the remainder of the semester. Professors are now working with study abroad students to assist them in successfully completing their coursework and final exams. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University campus services and facilities have reopened, and plan to resume academic activities on Tuesday, October 18th. University of the Western Cape campus remained quiet today, and plans to reopen campus tomorrow. ISA resident staff remains in close communication with our students about the remainder of the semester, and will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly.
October 10, 2016
Due to continued demonstrations on campus, the University of the Western Cape announced today that classes and all campus activities will be suspended for the rest of the week. Similarly, the University of Cape Town will remain closed for the week. Both universities are continuing discussions with their Student Representative Councils and other key stakeholders. Following its communication on Friday, October 7th, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University did not reopen today and has not yet indicated whether it will open later this week. Its Office for International Education did, however, meet with study abroad students, including ISA students and staff, to reassure them of the university's commitment to the completion of their studies. ISA resident staff remains in close communication with our students, and will continue to monitor the situation and advise accordingly.
October 8, 2016
Late on Friday, October 7th, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University announced that classes would not recommence on Monday, October 10th as planned. The University of Cape Town will also remain closed on Monday, however the University of the Western Cape still plans to reopen. ISA resident staff are closely following the situation at each university and updating students appropriately. ISA students will be provided with any necessary instructions regarding returning to campus.
October 7, 2016
On Friday, October 7th, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University resumed operations to prepare for classes to recommence on Monday, October 10th. The University of the Western Cape still plans to reopen on October 10th as well. The University of Cape Town announced on Friday evening that its campuses will remain closed on Monday to allow for further discussions with its key stakeholders. ISA resident staff are closely following the situation at each university and updating students appropriately. ISA students will be provided with any necessary instructions regarding returning to campus.
October 6, 2016
The University of the Western Cape has announced that due to ongoing demonstrations, all classes and campus facilities will be closed until Monday, October 10th. There have been no changes in campus activity at the University of Cape Town, although its administration plans to resume mediation with demonstrators in hopes of reopening on October 10th as well. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University remains closed until further notice. Although a date to reopen has not been set, in a communication yesterday, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University reaffirmed its commitment to complete the academic year and advised that it is preparing its campus for classes to eventually resume. ISA resident staff continue to update students regularly with any new information regarding the closures as well as any forthcoming final exam information.
October 5, 2016
Due to security concerns for ongoing student demonstrations, the University of Cape Town administration closed its campuses again through Friday, October 7th. The University of the Western Cape also closed today due to threats of disruptive protests. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University remains closed until further notice. All ISA students were promptly notified of the campus closures and advised to stay off campus. The University of Cape Town administration held a meeting to discuss revised exam time tables for international students though a final schedule was not provided. Resident staff will confirm the new exam time table as soon as it has been released. ISA resident staff remains in regular communication with our students and report that they are continuing to come to the ISA office to study.
October 3, 2016
As of Monday, October 3rd, the University of the Western Cape has remained opened and classes have continued without reports of protests or demonstrations on campus. ISA students have continued to attend classes at the University of the Western Cape as normal. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth remains closed until further notice as stakeholder discussions continue. The University of Cape Town did open today although there were reports of ongoing demonstrations and classroom disruptions and the shuttle service was suspended. The University of Cape Town administration is continuing to work on a plan for the student final exam schedule. ISA resident staff has reported that students remain safe and they are continuing to update students with any information received regarding lectures and class schedules.
September 27, 2016
On Tuesday September 27th, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University reported that it will remain closed until further notice as the university continues discussions with various stakeholders. Students have been advised to continue to check their emails for updates from individual professors. The University of Cape Town continues to remain closed through Sunday, October 2nd. Classes continued without interruption at the University of the Western Cape. ISA resident staff have reported that the atmosphere on our host university campuses remains peaceful. No decisions have been made yet by the University of Cape Town or Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University regarding how the recent class cancellations will affect the final exam periods. ISA is continuing to closely follow communications from each university's administration and updating students on any new developments.
September 26, 2016
On Sunday, September 25th, the University of Cape Town formally announced that classes would remain cancelled and the libraries closed until Monday, October 3rd in order to continue peaceful discourse between university administration and the students behind the the "Fees Must Fall" movement. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University remained closed on Monday, and is expected to reopen on Tuesday September 27th. Classes have continued without interruption at the University of the Western Cape. ISA resident staff have reported that the atmosphere on our host university campuses remains peaceful. No decisions have been made yet by the University of Cape Town or Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University regarding how the recent class cancellations will affect the final exam periods. ISA is continuing to closely follow communications from each university's administration and updating students on any new developments.
September 23, 2016
Due to ongoing "Fees Must Fall" protests at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the university administration cancelled classes and campus activities again on Friday, September 23rd. ISA students were notified of the cancellations and advised on areas to avoid. The University of Cape Town continues to remain closed through Sunday, September 25th. Classes continued without interruption at the University of the Western Cape. ISA resident staff reported that protests on our host university campuses have remained peaceful throughout the week. No decisions have been made yet regarding how the recent class cancellations will affect the final exam periods. ISA is continuing to closely follow communications from each university's administration and updating students on any new developments.
September 21, 2016
On Wednesday evening, University of Cape Town administration announced that all university activities will remain suspended through Sunday, September 25th in anticipation of further protests. This includes closing the campus library and suspending shuttle services. The ISA resident staff has reported that "Fees Must Fall" protests have remained peaceful over the last day. Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University remains closed through Thursday September 22nd. The University of the Western Cape has remained unaffected. ISA resident staff is continuing to update students regarding the closures as well as any new information regarding protest activity and areas to avoid.
September 20, 2016
Due to ongoing "Fees Must Fall" protest action, classes and campus activities have been suspended at the University of Cape Town for Tuesday and Wednesday, September 20th -21st. Protests also took place at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in Port Elizabeth, resulting in classes being suspended through Thursday, September 22nd. Protests have remained non-violent, although there have been reports of minor vandalism. ISA students at both universities have been advised by ISA resident staff to avoid campus and protest activity. Classes at the University of the Western Cape have continued as normal. ISA is closely monitoring the situation and will continue to advise students appropriately.
September 19, 2016
University of Cape Town cancelled classes and closed student facilities again on Monday, September 19th, in anticipation of continued protests due to the scheduled announcement by the South Africa Minister of Education on tuition fee increases for 2017. "Fees Must Fall" protesters organized demonstrations in major roadways on and around campus and held demonstrations within lecture halls on campus. Protest activities have remained non-violent. ISA students have been notified of the cancellations and will continue to be updated by ISA resident staff with any new developments.
September 16, 2016
On Friday, September 16th, due to ongoing student protests on campus, UCT suspended classes and campus activities. The protests have remained calm and non-violent, and there remains an increase in security presence on campus as the university takes steps to ensure the well-being of the campus community. UCT administration advised that classes and university activities are scheduled to resume on Monday morning. The ISA resident staff met with our students to discuss the protests and review safety protocols. There have been no reports of protests at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), ISA's other host university in Cape Town, and students attending UWC have been unaffected. ISA staff will continue to update students and university partners on any new information regarding the protests and any future campus closures.
September 15, 2016
On Thursday, September 15th, a group of approximately 200 student protestors gathered at the University of Cape Town's (UCT) lower campus and moved off campus to protest a student disciplinary tribunal against students accused of vandalism and other acts during previous demonstrations. Protesters returned to campus in the afternoon, disrupting normal activity at the library and computer labs on campus. Classes were not officially cancelled, however, the library and computer labs were closed and ISA resident staff received notification of the cancellation of an evening exam. The ISA resident staff was in communication with our students attending UCT to make them aware of these events and areas to avoid, and to remind them of safety protocols. UCT's Campus Protection Services is closely monitoring the situation. Classes and campus activities are expected to resume as usual on Friday, September 16th, and ISA resident staff will continue to provide the most up to date information to students and advise them accordingly.
September 9, 2016
On the morning of Friday, September 9th, 2016, a small group of "Fees Must Fall" student protesters blocked the main entrance to the University of Cape Town's upper campus, preventing the student shuttle and transport services from dropping students off and causing substantial traffic disruptions. At approximately 9:00 a.m. local time, the university administration announced that the protesters were dispersed and traffic cleared. Lectures and regular campus activity quickly resumed as normal. ISA resident staff was in communication with students to make them aware of the protests and that no penalties will be assessed against any students who may have missed classes as a result of the protests.
Last year, the Fees Must Fall Movement, which at its core rejects increases in tuition, led protests at universities across South Africa and resulted in campus closures. The South Africa government and university officials are taking measures to try to prevent similar disruptions from occurring this year. ISA resident staff remain in close communication with university administration and will continue to monitor the situation on campus and update students accordingly.
On early Sunday morning, October 30th, at approximately 7:40 a.m. local time, a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit central Italy, with aftershocks following. The epicenter of earthquake was close to the town of Norcia of whom many had been evacuated after the quakes on Wednesday. Dozens of historic buildings have been destroyed or damaged, and at present, around a dozen people are reporting injuries, however no casualties are being reported at this point. The earthquake was felt across the country, including Rome and Florence. It was not felt in Milan. Rome is located approximately 170 kilometers, Florence approximately 250 kilometers, and Milan approximately 540 kilometers from Norcia. ISA Italy staff is in touch with students, and encouraging them to contact their families. They will remain in close communication with our students and will continue to monitor the situation and advise students accordingly.
October 26, 2016
On Wednesday, October 26th, at approximately 7:10 p.m. local time, an estimated 5.4 magnitude earthquake hit central Italy followed by several aftershocks. There have been reports of a second earthquake at an estimated 5.9 magnitude. The earthquakes struck the Marche region, near Macerata. Tremors were felt across central Italy, including in in Italy's capital city, Rome, which is located approximately 90 kilometers southwest from the Marche region, and Florence which is approximately 278 kilometers northwest from the region. ISA Rome and Florence resident staff reported that while they felt the earth's movement, things in Rome and Florence remained relatively calm and there have been no reports of damage. ISA Milan staff reported that the earth's movement was not felt there. ISA staff is checking in with students and encouraging them to contact their families. We will continue to monitor for any developments, advising students as necessary.
October 13, 2016
On Thursday, October 13th, the Thai Bureau of the Royal Household confirmed that King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died. Notable disruptions to business, commercial, and diplomatic operations are anticipated during the coming days as the country enters a period of mourning. The U.S. State Department has not issued any travel restrictions for American citizens in Thailand. However, some transportation services may potentially be disrupted over the next few days. No class cancellations are expected at Mahidol University and all ISA Bangkok activities are running as scheduled. The ISA Bangkok resident staff is remaining in close communication with our students and will continue to monitor the situation and advise students accordingly.
Cartago, Heredia, and San Jose
Monday, September 19, 2016
As of September 17th, the Turrialba Volcano has experienced increased activity after a period of relative rest. The latest two eruptions, taking place at 3:00am and 11:30am on the morning of September 19th, sent a considerable amount of ash into the air causing a yellow advisory alert to be issued for the surrounding areas. The volcano is located in the city of Cartago, which is about 40 miles northeast of the capital city, San José. The eruptions have caused ash to fall in San Jose, Heredia and Alajuela, where the Juan Santamaría International Airport is located. Due to the high levels of ash, the airport suspended operations at 1:15pm local time and it remains unclear when the airport will resume its regular operations. Students currently abroad in San Jose and Heredia have been provided safety recommendations and have been advised not to travel to Cartago while the volcanic activity persists. There are currently no ISA students living or studying in Cartago. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates to students as needed.
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