Safety and Security

(Emergency Management Plan is at the bottom of this page)

SAFETY NOTICES

SAFETY NOTICE – MEXICO

October 10, 2014

The U.S. Department of State updated its Travel Warning on October 10, 2014 to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Mexico.  The travel warning begins with, “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.”  We encourage people to review the full text of the travel warning.

The Travel Warning provides a state-by-state assessment of security conditions. The specific assessment for the State of Morelos and Cuernavaca, where CGE’s study center is located, is a recommendation to exercise caution because narcotics-related violence has occurred in the area, but there is no recommendation that U.S. citizens defer non-essential travel to Cuernavaca, Morelos or other places where CGE programs go.  No travel advisory is in effect for Mexico City and the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Puebla where CGE also does programming.

The Center’s staff in Cuernavaca closely monitors all reported violence in Cuernavaca, the State of Morelos, and throughout Mexico. Program activity has been discontinued in communities that are considered unsafe or potentially unsafe, including those where previous violence has occurred. There has been no evidence of violence or kidnappings directed at international students, foreign tourists, or foreign residents in any area where CGE does programming.

Augsburg College has successfully run educational programs in Cuernavaca, Mexico continuously since 1979 and is planning to continue with scheduled programs throughout the coming year. Contingency plans are in place to immediately relocate planned program activity should it become necessary to avoid any location that could pose a safety or security risk.

The decision to continue with the Center’s programming in Mexico has been made with careful consideration of risk. The safety and security of students and program participants is the highest priority of the Center’s programs, and resident staff continually assess the safety and security situation and are prepared to make changes as needed in programming and facilities. All of the resident staff except one are Mexican citizens, and all have lived in Cuernavaca for many years and are very familiar with the city and its respective neighborhoods. In addition, the community engagement model of the program provides staff with contacts and relationships throughout the city that provide helpful information for assessing safety and security.

Cuernavaca is a large city and precautions have been taken to address the safety of students, as would be necessary in any large urban area. Street crime ranging from pick pocketing to armed robbery does occur in Cuernavaca, just as it does in many large cities in the U.S. and around the world. CGE staff advise and orient students and program participants to exercise common sense and specific precautions as they engage in program and personal activities. Guidelines (i.e. never go out alone, use only radio taxis, access ATMs only during business hours, etc.) are given to students and program participants regarding their personal responsibility in reducing risk. All program participants will be immediately notified of any increased risk to their safety and security.  Participants will be contacted in the event of any group or individual emergency situations, either by their own cell phone or a cell phone made available by CGE-Mexico.

While students are responsible for planning independent and personal travel, they are urged and advised to read the latest U.S. State Department information to avoid travel to areas of high risk identified in the current Travel Warning. They are also required to inform CGE-Mexico staff of independent travel plans and contact information.  The Center for Global Education recommends that all U.S. citizens participating in the Center’s programs in Mexico enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which provides the latest updates and travel information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Participants can register with the U.S. State Department online.

Center for Global Education staff will continue to monitor the situation in all areas of our programming and will not hesitate to cancel or reroute programs, if needed, to secure the safety of students and travel seminar participants.

Please contact us at: 1 (800) 299-8889 or globaled@augsburg.edu if you have questions and want additional information.

SAFETY NOTICE – EL SALVADOR

August 13, 2013

The U.S. Department of State updated its Travel Warning on August 9, 2013 for El Salvador. The travel warning states that, “Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit El Salvador each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. However, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country.” In addition it says that, “U.S. citizens do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality.”  We encourage people to review the full text of the travel warning.

The Center’s staff in El Salvador closely monitors the security situations in El Salvador in which any groups will travel. Programming would be discontinued in communities that are considered unsafe or potentially unsafe, including those where recent violence has occurred. The Center’s recent groups have safely traveled in El Salvador.

Augsburg College has successfully run educational programs in El Salvador continuously since 1988 and is planning to continue with scheduled programs throughout the coming year. The Center would immediately relocate planned program activity should it become necessary to avoid any location that could pose a safety or security risk.

The decision to continue with the Center’s programming in El Salvador has been made with careful consideration of risk. The safety and security of students and program participants is the highest priority of the Center’s programs, and resident staff continually assess the safety and security situation and are prepared to make changes as needed in programming and facilities. In addition, the community engagement model of the program provides staff with contacts and relationships throughout the country that provide helpful information for assessing safety and security.

San Salvador is a large city and precautions have been taken to address the safety of students, as would be necessary in any large urban area. Street crime ranging from pick pocketing to armed robbery does occur in San Salvador, just as it does in many large cities in the U.S. and around the world. CGE staff advise and orient students and program participants to exercise common sense and specific precautions as they engage in program and personal activities. Guidelines (i.e. never go out alone, use only radio taxis, do not use public transportation, access ATMs only during business hours, etc.) are given to students and program participants regarding their personal responsibility in reducing risk. All program participants will be immediately notified of any increased risk to their safety and security. Participants stay either in a guest house adjacent to a police station or in a hotel with on-site security.

The Center for Global Education recommends that all U.S. citizens participating in the Center’s programs in El Salvador enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which provides the latest updates and travel information from the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Participants can register with the U.S. State Department online.

Center for Global Education staff will continue to monitor the situation in all areas of our programming and will not hesitate to cancel or reroute programs, if needed, to secure the safety of students and travel seminar participants.

Please contact us at: 1 (800) 299-8889 or globaled@augsburg.edu if you have questions and want additional information.

 


EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT PLAN

Center for Global Education at Augsburg College

with Programs in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua,  Namibia, and Cuba

May 31, 2013

The purpose of this document is to provide information about Center for Global Education emergency preparedness  in the event of international incidents of natural disaster, disease, military action or terrorism.  In consultation with the Center’s international staff regarding global and local conditions, Center for Global Education semester programs and travel seminars continue to operate as scheduled. An Emergency Response Team continuously monitors both world-wide and local conditions. If deemed necessary because of changing conditions, any or all of the emergency protocols already in place will be implemented.

Center for Global Education Contact Information

Office Hours (8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m. CST) – Toll-free number 1-800-299-8889.

Nights and Weekends and if the main office number is not answered during office hours – Cell Phone (24/7) (612) 817-2830

Emergency Response Team

In Minneapolis:

Director, Center for Global Education

Coordinator, Semester Programs Abroad

Director, International Travel Seminars

In Mexico: Site Director

In Guatemala: Program Director

In El Salvador: Program Director

In Nicaragua: Regional Director

In Namibia: Site Director

In locations where Center for Global Education does not have permanent staff, local consultants are available to participate in a response team.

Risk Assessment

Members of the Emergency Response Team consider several sources of information when determining the status of program operations:

  • Public announcements, travel advisories, and consular information sheets issued by the U.S. Department of State (http://www.travel.state.gov)
  • Information gathered locally by international program staff
  • Other resources at our sites of operation, including U.S. Embassy officials
  • SECUSSA (Section on U.S. Students Abroad) of the Association of International Educators, that shares comparative security information from study abroad sites around the globe
  • Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators/FrontierMEDEX

In making individual decisions concerning participation, we suggest that students, travel seminar participants, and their parents carefully review the State Department Travel Advisories web page: http://www.travel.state.gov/.

Orientation and Training for Participants

Every Center for Global Education program begins with a comprehensive orientation to the country, city, and facilities, which includes, among other information, an explanation of any local risks the resident directors have identified along with advisory information for enhancing personal safety. Participants are provided after hours emergency contacts.

On-Site Care and Insurance

Each site maintains a list of recommended local health and mental health providers. The Center for Global Education at Augsburg College provides participants traveling with us to all sites with international emergency travel assistance through EIIA/FrontierMEDEX insurance* which is included in the program fee. This insurance provides primary coverage for international emergencies and accidents. The plan also covers Emergency Medical Evacuation and Emergency Travel Assistance, Accidental Death and Disability, and Repatriation of Remains. Due to OFAC rules, the applicability of the insurance may vary some for programs in Cuba.  Also spouses/domestic partners, dependent children of covered travelers while accompanying the covered traveler are included.  EIIA/FrontierMEDEX makes the determination on who is covered, so the Center for Global Education at Augsburg College is not responsible for any exclusions they may apply.  This policy does not cover trip cancellation/interruption or any medical expenses that may be incurred while in the United States, or after you return back to the U.S. with any injury sustained abroad.

Monitoring

International program staff stay informed of conditions and changes in local health and safety risks, and inform participants of any changes that occur. International site directors and members of the Emergency Response team subscribe to the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs travel advisory service and automatically receive Public Announcements and Travel Warnings as soon as they are issued, as well as advisories from FrontierMEDEX.

Security Systems at International Facilities

At each of our facilities the following safety/security measures are observed:

  • Secure premises requiring a key or thumbprint for entry
  • Security services are contracted by site as needed
  • Safe is available for participants’ travel documents and personal valuables
  • No signage or other indications identifying the facility as a U.S. institution
  • After hours emergency contacts are given to all participants
  • Participants doing independent travel apart from the program schedule are required to submit an itinerary of their travel plans
  • Health and safety orientation including emergency and preventive measures

Emergency Protocol at International Sites

  1. Semester students are encouraged to register  with the US State Department Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) , a free service provided by the US government to US citizens who are traveling to or living in a foreign country by entering information about an upcoming trip abroad so that the State Department can better assist them in an emergency.
  2. Each site has in place a contingency plan to deal with local emergencies.
  3. Participants are required to receive permission to leave the group for independent travel, and they are required to leave a written itinerary with the CGE staff.

In the Event of a Local Emergency

Local staff will monitor and evaluate the situation based on personal experiences, observation, and information gathered from local sources. Based on this information and analysis program staff will determine what, if any, action needs to be taken. Responses may include:

  • Keeping a low profile, limiting movements, and remaining on program premises or with a host family
  • Canceling or rerouting planned trips/activities
  • Implementing a local contingency plans that may require (a) extra caution, (b) relocation of the program to a different site in the same city or country or to a nearby country, or (c) suspension of the program and evacuation of participants.

In the Event of a Worldwide Crisis (such as armed conflict involving the U.S.):

Programs will continue within countries that are not directly affected by the crisis. Students and travel seminar participants will be asked to contact their parents by phone to confirm their well-being and safety. An e-mail will be sent to parents from the Minneapolis office to confirm the safety and well being of students and program participants and to confirm the continuation of the program.

In the event of a new, major armed conflict involving the U.S., it is advisable for staff to keep students and program participants at their current program location for 24 to 48 hours (e.g. if the students are in home stays or in a rural area) unless there is information indicating that the location is or soon could be unsafe. This period of time should be used for the purpose of assessing any events or responses within the country that might pose a risk to the group before moving to the next program location. If there is no security risk, then program should continue as planned. If there is a security risk of any nature, the program should be modified to assure the safety of students and travel participants.

Minneapolis staff and international staff will be in contact with each other immediately in the event of a worldwide crisis. Frequent information sharing will occur to apprise the respective staff of any changes regarding the security of students or continuing program in each site.

Each international site will work with the US office and EIIA/FrontierMEDEX to develop an evacuation plan to be implemented in the event of a natural disaster, political or social unrest, or armed conflict that endangers students.

In the event of program cancellation

  • Teaching faculty will make every effort to assist students in completing the coursework, making alternate and substitute assignments as needed
  • In general, no refunds will be issued unless faculty are unable to implement a substitute curriculum to complete the courses
  • Whenever possible, recoverable costs will be refunded.

Voluntary Withdrawal from a Program

Students and parents may decide to voluntarily withdraw from the program independent of cancellation by CGE. In this event, transportation home is at the student’s own expense. The student will be given make-up assignments to be completed at home. No monetary refunds will be available should the student leave early and not complete makeup assignments.

Center for Global Education

Emergency Response Plan

Purpose: The purpose of the crisis management policy is to

1) Respond to any emergency experienced by students, faculty, or staff in programs or services operated or supported by the Augsburg Office of International Programs.

2) Maintain the security and safety of the program participants

3) Manage the flow and integrity of information within and outside of the organization.

Scope: An emergency situation could include any of the following:

  • Act of terrorism, armed conflict, civil unrest, public health emergency or natural disaster in an area where a group is traveling
  • Death, serious illness, or injury of one or more program participant(s), faculty, or staff
  • Arrest and/or imprisonment of a program participant(s), faculty or staff
  • Major outbreak of fighting or natural disaster in an area of programming
  • A serious threat to the health or safety of a program participant(s) or staff member(s)
  • A participant’s unauthorized absence or departure from the program
  • Significant negative publicity or threat to the program, Augsburg College or a collaborating organization.
  • Any other unforeseen emergency circumstances.

Policy: In any of the above situations, an emergency management team will be formed immediately. It should be comprised of:

  1. The Director, Center for Global Education (in her absence, one of the other Directors in the Office of International Programs)
  2. Vice President, Student Affairs
  3. The staff person working with the travel seminar sponsor or Coordinator of Semester Programs Abroad (whichever is directly affected)
  4. The country’s Augsburg staff person primarily responsible for the particular program (if applicable)
  5. The travel seminar sponsor or in-group leader accompanying the program
  6. In crises involving Augsburg faculty, students and/or staff, the Vice President, Student Affairs will contact other members of senior leadership at the College. If other staff members are to be involved, it is the decision of the crisis management team.

Steps to be taken in a crisis situation:

  1. During office hours call: The Center for Global Education Office in Minneapolis: (612) 330-1159 . If the main line is not answered during office hours or after office hours and on weekends call: Center for Global Education Cell Phone (24/7) (612) 817-2830
  2. The Center staff directly involved (trip leader, in-country leader etc.) must report the crisis immediately to the Minneapolis director/coordinator of the program affected. In the absence of that person, the person to be contacted is listed below in order: Director, Center for Global Education, Program Coordinator, International Travel Seminars or one of the other Directors in the Office of International Programs.
  3. The crisis management team meets promptly to determine the appropriate response.
  4. The crisis management team drafts a memo and/or holds a meeting to brief Office of International Programs staff on the crisis, inform them of the designated point person(s) and the appropriate staff response internally (within the organization) and externally (outside the organization).
  5. A crisis incident report must be submitted to the Director within two weeks of the incident by the staff person most involved with the crisis. The report should include a description of the initial event, steps taken, and any other relevant information.
  6. Any further follow-up is the responsibility of the crisis management team.