As the global COVID-19 outbreak continues to unfold, our number one priority is the health, safety, and well-being of all our students—our international students who are currently hosted by families here in the Philippines and our Filipino students who are currently hosted by families in countries abroad. AFS Philippines is certainly a family affair with hundreds of host families, volunteers, educators, alumni, donors, members of the communities, staff, and others who share in care and concern for AFS students. Thank you for all you do every day on behalf of our participants, and especially during challenging times like these.
As we are all experiencing, the COVID-19 outbreak is dynamic and uncertain. AFS Philippines has more than 60 years of experience in coordinating international exchanges across the globe, especially in and through situations that are constantly changing.
As we monitor the coronavirus pandemic closely, both in the Philippines and around the world, we maintain ongoing communications with our AFS Partners who are located in every country where our students are being hosted and receive support and expertise from our AFS Philippines staff members who specialize in health, safety, risk management, crisis management, and compliance. AFS has one of the largest volunteer-based networks of its kind in the world which means that trained and experienced volunteers live in the communities where our students are living. Together with our AFS Partners, staff, and volunteers, we are making decisions that will best protect our students—decisions that are informed fully by our values, our mission, our safety pledge, and the best information we have at the time.
Here are the changes in our programs:
- AFS Philippines has suspended the current hosting program early and return the participants to their respective home countries and families. We are currently working on the logistical arrangements of the participants’ return in consideration of the recent development on the situation and travel restrictions in the Philippines.
- AFS Philippines has suspended programs in China, Norway, Spain, and Japan. And the Filipino students being hosted in these countries have either returned home (China, Japan, Norway and Spain).
- As for the sponsored programs for high school students: AFS Japan has decided to continue the SH20, in which the Asia KAKEHASHI Project batch 2020-2021 will be tentatively departing on May 27 or 28. This decision is still subject to change depending on the situation. However, for now, AFS Japan and AFS Philippines are still working in looking for school and host family/dormitory for the participants.
- Meanwhile, the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and American Council has temporarily announced that they will not be suspending the NH19 YES Program. Even so, if the natural parents/or participants wishes to go home, they may consider the Voluntary Early Return Request. Although processing of this request may take longer than in normal circumstances.
The decisions at AFS Philippines are being made on a program-by-program basis, based on the best information we have at the time and made in the best interests of our participants. In every case, our participants and their host families and natural parents or guardians are informed immediately, as are all AFS-USA staff and volunteers involved in our students’ care and well-being.
Our staff and volunteers on the ground together with our logistic staff work with our AFS Partners abroad, and our students and their parents/guardians until our students are returned home. Once again, we recommend that our students who return home follow guidelines set forth by the Department of Health and the World Health Organization. In all cases, students and their parents/guardians have AFS staff and volunteers to help answer their questions and address any concerns.
If you are a parent, guardian, or participant who has questions or would like to communicate with a staff member at AFS Philippines, please email: [email protected]
IF YOU OR A MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY IS CURRENTLY ON AN AFS PROGRAM: We understand this may be an unsettling time, but please know that our robust, dedicated and skilled response network is standing by to accommodate your loved one should conditions change, such as changes to their school schedule/availability or a heightened outbreak in their host country.
IF YOU OR YOUR CHILD ARE PREPARING FOR AN AFS PROGRAM THIS YEAR: We are standing by to answer questions you may have and to help accommodate you in any way that we can, including helping to identify a new destination if the program has been or is likely to be suspended.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT COVID-19: As information surrounding COVID-19 is rapidly changing, we encourage you to visit the websites of the World Health Organization and the Department of Health for more information.
If you have immediate concerns or questions, please direct them to [email protected]
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding as we work through these rapidly changing times.