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 Incident Response Team (IRT) rapidly assesses the situation, implements appropriate responses, and communicates with students and parents as necessary via email or phone calls. The IRT 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 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 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.
With written permission from a U.S. parent or guardian, students may plan independent travel in groups of two or three. Students are required to create and submit a well-conceived, safe, complete and feasible travel plan to the RD for review and approval.
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 step.state.gov/step to monitor safety conditions for specific destination(s) overseas and receive the latest email alerts as they are posted on travel.state.gov. 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.