The care for the safety and well-being of all students is SYA’s highest priority. SYA students have an entire community of SYA adults; Resident Directors (RD), faculty, host parents and the Home Office in Massachusetts looking out for them. We provide our faculty and staff with health and safety training. We operate in areas in which we have done so for decades and where we have become integral members of the community. SYA also provides our students with the necessary information to take care of themselves, to behave in ways that are culturally appropriate and to avoid situations that can be dangerous.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does SYA do to prepare for emergencies?
SYA has undertaken a comprehensive safety audit and reviews emerging safety concerns to update site-specific Emergency Action Plans. Individual school sites conduct drills and exercises for emergency preparedness. One of the most important assets in responding to an actual emergency situation is SYA’s Incident Response Team (IRT) comprising of the SYA President, Executive Director, Director of Operations, Health & Safety Coordinator, Director of Strategic Marketing and Communications and the appropriate RDs. This group gathers quickly, assesses needs, implements appropriate responses and communicates with students and parents as necessary. SYA communicates through email or phone calls, depending upon the situation. SYA’s IRT meets proactively throughout the year to discuss, update and revise any action plans.
How does SYA prepare our students for emergency situations?
Throughout the entire school year, SYA provides best practice guidance to our students about being aware of their surroundings and how to stay safe and enjoy self-planned trips. This includes watching and listening to local news reports, being aware of travel delays and conducting themselves discreetly so as not to draw unwarranted attention to the fact that they are U.S. citizens overseas. We ensure students have a phone with a local number to keep communications open outside of the school setting and to be reachable on short notice at all times should they encounter any difficulties. Students may plan independent travel only in groups of two or three, the RD reviews plans proposed by the student to make sure they are well conceived, safe, complete and feasible. SYA requires written permission from a U.S. parent or guardian for such travel.
How does SYA keep parents informed?
In an emergency, SYA reaches out to parents through email, or depending upon the situation, an individual call. It is imperative that parents ensure that SYA knows how to reach them at all times throughout the year. If parents are traveling or away from home, they should notify their child’s RD and provide contact information. The RD will act in loco parentis if parents cannot be reached in an emergency, but will make every effort to contact parents first. In addition, parents can call the RD 24/7 on his/her cell phone in the case of an emergency.