March 4, 2020
Dear CISV USA,
We are writing to address the concerns related to the worldwide outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus (aka COVID-19). Safety is our top priority and has been over the 69 years of our organization. We have experienced many incidents over the years from terror attacks to H1N1, and throughout we have hosted and sent participants successfully and safely around the world.
We are taking the COVID-19 situation seriously. We are also mindful that the World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled the overabundance of information an “infodemic”, arguing it “makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”
Therefore, we make sure that we get our information from WHO and other official and trustworthy sources, such as government health and foreign office departments. You may monitor official WHO advice by going to: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019.Although CISV’s International Office is monitoring the ongoing situation and assessing any impact on international programs and supporting affected National Associations (NAs), we believe that National Associations and hosting chapters are best placed to decide the safety of hosting within their NA. In the case of the coronavirus, the final decision of any hosting NA will be based on official information available from WHO and other government sources.
Individual participants and delegations may always decide on their own that they do not wish to travel with the current uncertainty. However, we cannot currently offer refunds to travelers. Travelers may want to wait to book their flights until after March 31st, or alternatively, purchase refundable tickets rather than non-refundable tickets even though there is an additional cost for doing so.
In CISV, safety is the number one priority for all programs and events. The International Office is following the World Health Organization1s updates on the spread of coronavirus to make sure it can support all National Associations in their risk assessment processes and decisions.
Our 69 years of experience has allowed us to develop protocols and guidelines in the unlikely event of a virus outbreak of any kind. Our risk management team will make sure that our Hosting Chapters have established a plan in the event of a possible contamination within their programs. Remember that only a small percentage of all infections of the coronavirus are serious.
We are very optimistic that the spread of the Coronavirus will cease over this spring and that we will be able to once, again, successfully send and host participants throughout the USA and the world. We know it is difficult to be patient and wait things out as summer gets closer but that is what we are asking everyone. We will continue to evaluate the travel situation but are hopeful that in a month or so this virus will subside.
Laura Ripberger Executive Director CISV USA
Madeline Collison National Risk Manager CISV USA
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