District Governor Elect Roger Paschal is sharing
RI decision memo on this coming years Youth Exchange
Program. Please direct questions to PDG Jim Giffin
 
After careful consideration, the Board of Directors of Rotary International has decided to allow some districts to conduct Rotary Youth Exchange under specific safety guidelines during the 2020-21 Rotary year. PDG Jim Giffin is the District 5790 point-of-contact for Youth Exchange.
Rotary.org
ROTARY YOUTH EXCHANGE

Dear District Governors and District Youth Exchange leaders,
 
After careful consideration, the Board of Directors of Rotary International has decided to allow some districts to conduct Rotary Youth Exchange under specific safety guidelines during the 2020-21 Rotary year.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, at their April meeting the Board made several important decisions to limit or suspend Rotary activities that require travel or in-person meetings, including meetings of the Board and Trustees, Institutes, and the appointment of president’s representatives. As student safety is one of Rotary’s top priorities, the Board requested the general secretary to prepare a risk assessment for conducting Rotary Youth Exchange during the 2020-21 Rotary year.

While there is still uncertainty related to COVID-19 globally, especially as it relates to international travel, school delays and closures, and the ongoing or increasing risk of infection, the Board recognizes that some regions have begun to ease restrictions.  On 8 June, the Board decided to allow flexibility for districts within those areas, so they may determine whether they can proceed with Youth Exchange programs in accordance with required the safety guidelines and crisis management plan.

Please review the following decisions carefully and share with anyone involved in Rotary Youth Exchange in your district.

DECISION: The Board
in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, agrees that the health and safety of all participants in Rotary programs is of paramount importance and with this in mind adopts the following guidance specific to Rotary Youth Exchange, subject to review by the Board on an on-going basis:

1. All districts are strongly encouraged to arrange for the return of students currently on exchange in countries that are or may become impacted by COVID-19 as soon as it is determined to be possible and safe to do so after consulting travel advisories and guidelines issued by their embassies or consular offices, international public health agencies like the World Health Organization, and local health authorities for the latest and most relevant information.

2. Districts are strongly encouraged to voluntarily suspend long-term Rotary Youth Exchange in the 2020-21 Rotary year, especially where the district cannot reasonably assess the risks related to COVID-19 and/or does not already have an emergency risk management plan in place.

3. Districts may conduct long-term Rotary Youth Exchange in the 2020-21 Rotary year beginning 1 January 2021 provided that they confirm they understand and agree to administer Rotary’s Youth Exchange program in accordance with 2020-21 Certification requirements, and before administering exchanges follow additional safety measures, including:

  • Districts must be certified for the 2020-21 Rotary year;
  • Travel must be permitted between countries, and the administration of the exchange must not be in conflict with the host and/or sending district’s government’s or government health authority’s recommendations for travel or student exchange activity;
  • All parties (sending and host districts and parents/legal guardians) must agree in writing to a procedure detailing how decisions for terminating an exchange and repatriating a student will be made and carried out in the event the virus resurges and poses risk to student safety or volunteers at any point during the exchange;
  • All parties (sending and host districts and parents/legal guardians) must agree in writing to a plan outlining who shall assume financial responsibility for covering costs or reimbursements associated with cancelling an exchange early, including but not limited to flight/travel rebooking fees, emergency repatriation, tour cancellations, program fees, etc.;
  • Districts must have a crisis management plan in place that includes specific provisions related to health emergencies and disease outbreaks (i.e. COVID-19), and incorporates the following:
    • The crisis management plan must be reviewed and/r developed in consultation with a local health authority;
    • Each district must have procedures to monitor health and safety developments related to COVID-19, such as travel restrictions and quarantine measures impacting both inbound and outbound students;
    • A comprehensive communications plan to:
      1. ensure consistent communication between volunteers, students and parents, host families, and RI about important developments related to COVID-19, and
      2. allows program leaders to quickly locate and communicate with all parties in the event of an emergency;
    • A procedure for repatriating students or ensuring their safety in the event quarantine measures or travel restrictions are implemented during an exchange;
  • The district must be able to ensure students can remain in the country legally under valid visas and without disruption to student travel insurance coverage should new travel restrictions prohibit students from returning home as expected;
  • Districts must be able to provide proper medical care in the event a student contracts the virus or falls ill;
  • Districts must have a temporary backup host family willing to host each inbound student, regardless of the student’s given health status or local stay-at-home orders, should an immediate move be necessary;
  • For long-term exchanges, students must be enrolled in a school that is in session and operating normally upon arrival in the host district; and
  • For long-term exchanges, districts must report the following information to Rotary International prior to any student travel, and any updates to the following information are communicated to RI within 48 hours:
    • Participant full name, age, sex, and contact information (email and/or telephone number)
    • Participant’s parent/guardian full name and contact information (email and telephone number)
    • Participant’s parent/guardian signed consent form, including acknowledgement that personally identifying information will be reported to Rotary International in accordance with Rotary’s data privacy policies and other data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR)
    • Sending district and hosting district numbers
    • Host family full name and contact information (email and/or telephone number and physical address)
    • Start date and end date
4. Districts may conduct short-term Rotary Youth Exchange in the 2020-21 Rotary year beginning 1 October 2020 provided that above safety measures are also followed.

5. Consistent with Rotary International’s youth protection policies for unauthorized exchange activity, any district found to be participating in any exchange activity contrary to this guidance during the 2020-21 Rotary year that puts students at risk shall have their certification to participate in Rotary Youth Exchange suspended for a period of two consecutive years.

6. The general secretary shall develop a mechanism to collect and store program participant data and contact information as deemed necessary to support the administration of Rotary Youth Exchange consistent with Rotary’s data privacy policies and other data privacy regulations, such as the General Data Privacy Regulations (GDPR) to be implemented by 1 January 2021.

7. Districts are strongly encouraged to keep young people that would have otherwise participated in Rotary Youth Exchange engaged alternatively through virtual (online only) exchanges or other Rotary programs such as Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), or plan for a Rotary Youth Exchange or New Generations Service Exchange during the following Rotary year.

For districts that have or may suspend their program

Given the potential risks to the health and safety of our youth, suspending the program during the coming year may be the right decision for certain districts. Any decision that prioritizes the safety and wel-lbeing of our students is the right decision – and you have the flexibility to make the right decision for your district.  

For districts considering participating in the program

Some districts are confident that they have assessed the risks, consulted international and local health experts and decided to safely plan exchanges with an emergency risk management plan in place to anticipate possible changes in order to respond, communicate, and act quickly if necessary.

Districts who choose to participate in Youth Exchange will be required to report their program participation to Rotary Youth Exchange Staff before any student travel takes place. Rotary staff can support you and help communicate in the event of an emergency. Instructions for how to report participation will be sent to district leaders in the coming months. 

The consequences for any district that does not follow the Board’s guidelines are consistent with the policies and procedures for unauthorized exchange programs and activities that put students at risk.
 


No matter what you decide, please continue to support Rotary Youth Exchange. Take this time to strengthen your program, explore options to engage young people that would have otherwise participated in Rotary Youth Exchange alternatively through virtual (online only) exchanges or other Rotary programs such as Interact, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA), or plan for a Rotary Youth Exchange or New Generations Service Exchange during the following Rotary year.

Our staff will continue to support Youth Exchange leaders in the year ahead, by providing updated and new resources, sharing engagement strategies, collecting participant information, and addressing your questions or concerns. When the program fully resumes, Rotary Youth Exchange will be stronger than ever.

Thank you for all that you do to support Rotary Youth Exchange, and for your understanding and cooperation as we do what is necessary during these unprecedented times to keep our students safe.
 
Sincerely,

Rotary Youth Exchange

ONE ROTARY CENTER
1560 SHERMAN AVENUE
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS 60201-3698 USA
ROTARY.ORG
 
 
 
 
 







 
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