Q: What is COVID-19? +A:
COVID-19 is the name of a disease caused by a new (“novel”) coronavirus. Infections first began in China in late 2019 and have since spread to many countries around the world. Symptoms reported have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing (full information on COVID-19 Symptoms). You may find additional background at the CDC website.
Q: What actions has Winterline Global Education taken to protect the health of its students and staff? +A:
The Winterline Global Education Crisis Team along with the Crisis Team of our parent company, Impact Global Education (IGE), have been and will continue to closely monitor this rapidly evolving public health situation to ensure that appropriate plans are in place to protect the health of our community. We are following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) guidance to ensure our response protocols remain aligned with the most current health care community recommendations. The IGE Risk Management Team, the IGE Medical Director, (Dr. Ivor Garlick), the Crisis Response Teams for IGE, and WorldAware, our security assistance provider, are all working together to ensure that we are following WHO and CDC recommendations and guidelines on all matters related to the response to this outbreak to help us make the best decisions based on the latest information for our students and staff.
Q: Will this impact the 2019-20 Winterline Global Skills Program (GSP) Itinerary? +A:
After significant discussion and reflection by our risk, programming, operations, and management teams, we decided to move Winterline programming from Europe. Our decision is in line with industry recommendations and, we believe, is in the best interest of the students and staff on our programs. The trajectory of the number of COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically around the globe. Based on concerns over potential future quarantines and travel restrictions, our teams made an early decision to return our students to their home countries. We were at the forefront of making the very difficult decision to remove them, which fortunately allowed us to be ahead of the expanding and challenging travel restrictions.
Q: Have you made any adjustments to the Winterline Global Education 2020 program itineraries? +A:
We are keeping a very close watch on the current global situation and are cautiously optimistic that COVID-19 will be contained before the Winterline Global Skills Program Fall ’20 start date. We are currently accepting applications for our Fall 2020 programs and will continue to do so for the time being. Given the global uncertainty at this time, we have waived the application fee and extended the deadlines to allow for more flexibility for our families.
Q: Is it safe to study/travel abroad? +A:
Every area of our lives contains risk, and in any of the activities we engage in, whether at home or abroad, risk is present. At IGE we are deeply committed to risk management. There are particular challenges of traveling abroad and operating in environments you may not be familiar with and being exposed to risks you may not be initially aware of. Because of these risks, choosing to travel with a program with industry leading risk management practices is particularly important. Risk management is a core awareness of WInterline Global Education and of our parent organization, Impact Global Education. Our field staff, Country Directors, Chief Risk Officer, and IGE Medical Director are continually focused on identifying and responding to any areas that may affect the health and safety of our participants. Additionally, all participants are provided with top-tier travel insurance for any medical issues or security evacuation. IGE has placed significant resources focused on addressing constantly changing global risks.
Q: Under what conditions would you decide to cancel a program? +A:
Our criteria for canceling programs are based on CDC and US State Department warnings, as well as key information from our security assistance provider and on-the-ground information from local partners and IGE country directors. If we were to determine that there is a likelihood of a heightened risk of exposure to the virus from sustained community transmission (and subsequent need for quarantine), or a local environment that was too restrictive for effective programming (limits on travel, closed schools, embassies, and shops), we would first strive to replace programs with options in other IGE countries unaffected by the virus. If that solution was not available, we would transition students home and continue to deliver the program through remote means by providing additional resources and opportunities for growth.
Q: Who can we talk to if we have questions? Or is there a website you recommend where we can follow news about COVID-19? +
Q: Do you have any confirmed cases on any of your programs? +A:
There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on any of the IGE programs spread around the world.
Q: Are you providing face masks for the students on your programs? +A:
Neither CDC nor WHO recommend masks as a preventative measure for healthy individuals (except for people providing care in healthcare environments). For the prevention of transmission of this and other viruses, both the CDC and the WHO recommend normal hygiene measures (effective and frequent hand washing, covering coughs/sneezes, avoiding close contact with sick individuals). Field staff on IGE programs do carry masks and if students request them, or if local community practice dictates their use, program leaders have them available. We made the difficult decision early to return our students to their home countries so we were ahead of the expanding and challenging travel restrictions.