Student Safety

SYA’s highest priority is to promote the health and safety of SYA students. While abroad, students are supported by a robust network of SYA adults trained in health and safety, including a Resident Director (RD), faculty, host parents and home office staff in Massachusetts. In addition, SYA provides students with necessary information so that they are empowered to conduct themselves in safe, healthy, and respectful ways. Finally, SYA offers decades of experience promoting student health and safety, and its schools operate in areas where students and staff have become integral members of the local community.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does SYA prepare for emergencies?

SYA creates and maintains site-specific Emergency Action Plans that are informed by emerging safety concerns and current best practice. Each school site uses these plans to conduct drills and exercises for emergency preparedness. In the event of an emergency, SYA’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) rapidly assesses the situation, implements appropriate responses, and communicates with students and parents as necessary via email or phone calls. The ERT comprises the SYA President, Head of Schools and Programs, Director of Operations, Health and Safety Coordinator, Senior Communications Officer and the appropriate RDs. SYA’s ERT meets proactively throughout the year to discuss, update and revise any action plans.

How does SYA prepare our students for emergency situations?

Throughout the school year, SYA provides students with information and guidance to promote healthy and safe practices while living and traveling abroad. This guidance ranges from the importance of monitoring local news reports and being aware of travel delays, to conduct that minimizes unwarranted attention while traveling. In addition, SYA ensures that students have a phone with a local number so that they are always reachable and can communicate in the event of an emergency.

How does SYA keep parents informed?

In the event of an emergency, SYA reaches out to parents through email or phone 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 are 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 at any hour on his/her cell phone in the case of an emergency.

What are some proactive safety measures that parents can take?

Upon arrival in the host country, all SYA students are registered with the U.S. State Department through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which will facilitate direct communication provided by the U.S. Embassy in the event of a crisis. SYA is in regular contact with the U.S. Consul in the local area, and we receive alerts and updates from the U.S. Embassy in the host country. As a parent you may sign up via to monitor safety conditions for specific destination(s) overseas and receive the latest email alerts as they are posted on This is a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

What if my child needs to see a doctor, or obtain a prescription?

Medical assistance is readily available in all SYA host cities. The Resident Director or assistant will arrange routine medical appointments as needed and will implement established protocols to respond to any medical emergencies that may arise, including those requiring evacuation. Each SYA campus keeps on file all the medical information provided by each student’s family and physician.

What happens in the event of a medical emergency?

The Resident Director will notify parents as soon as possible whenever a student suffers a significant injury or serious illness. SYA does not allow elective surgery such as the extraction of wisdom teeth without parents' authorization. Even in an emergency, SYA makes every effort to contact parents or others they designate before proceeding with surgery or other treatment. During the enrollment process, parents are required to sign a medical consent form allowing SYA to arrange for appropriate care in case parents cannot be reached.

How does SYA support students with emotional health concerns like anxiety, homesickness and culture shock?

SYA does not employ mental health counselors onsite, but has a contract with The Truman Group to provide individual counseling for students via video conferencing, while overseas. These services include communication with parents and doctors back home. The Truman Group also provides school-wide support and/or training as determined by the Resident Director. If a student wishes to access other options, SYA will help arrange appointments with local mental health professionals if available. Please note that access to English-speaking mental health professionals is significantly more limited than at home, and sometimes altogether unavailable.

Another option some students have found effective is to continue counseling via Skype with their mental health professional from home.


What is the process for medical expenses?

SYA purchases health insurance for all students that covers most medical expenses incurred outside the United States, during the SYA school year. It also includes coverage for emergency evacuation. The policy does not cover pre‐existing treatment received in the U.S., and coverage for pre‐existing conditions is limited. If payment is required, students are expected to pay at the time of service; parents may subsequently submit their claim(s) to the insurance company. This insurance is only in effect when the student is overseas and enrolled in SYA.

Any further questions or concerns should be directed to the SYA Home Office at 978-725-6828.