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Health and Safety on SAGE Programs

The news media often exposes us to images of an unsettled state of world affairs, and you may be concerned about your student’s safety while abroad. You will find the location of the US Embassy or consulate in the country where your student plans to study along with regular updates and public announcements and travel advisories on these websites: US State Department Information for Travelers and Study Abroad Resources. To be honest, you might be concerned as you read over some of this information, but to keep it in perspective, the US government only documents the problems for which travelers should be alert and so it is primarily news alerts and warnings reported. If you were to read the advice about travel to the US produced by other governments, you might be equally disconcerted about living in the US.

We recommend that students enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) with the State Department so they will receive location specific information during their time abroad.  This is a free service - click here to register. The local US embassy or consulate may issue short-term announcements urging extra caution for activities ranging from rail strikes, demonstrations and weather issues to information on possible terrorist activity.  The State Department has kept a continuous World-Wide caution status since 9/11 that is updated every six months and current warnings reflect CoVid concerns. This is not to say that these the country-specific alerts are not important but to offer perspective on the fact that it is standard operating procedure when the US government learns new information to be shared with US citizens so travelers can make informed decisions about their plans. The majority of students who travel abroad each year do so without incident. It is important to be informed of world events but also crucial to confirm perceptions against the reality of events in the region; please check with your student for accuracy and the local context of stories behind the often sensational headlines.

Students enrolled at Scripps College are required to maintain a US health insurance policy whether in the US or on a SAGE program. The Dean of Students Office has information on the policy available through the Claremont Colleges if a student does not have health insurance through their own individual policy or through a parents's policy.  There may be limitations to such coverage for students participating on a SAGE program outside the United States.  Some SAGE programs have a mandatory insurance policy for participating on the program and of such policies are covered for SAGE participation.  In addition, Scripps students participating in college-related activities abroad are covered by a policy for Emergency Medical and Accident Insurance through Zurich Traveler Assistance for the official dates of the SAGE program. This coverage includes helpful resources and students are encouraged to register for each college-related trip involving international travel. Contact the SAGE Office for details. 

One of the key factors affecting your student’s safety while abroad involves the behavioral choices students can make for themselves. Each program holds a thorough orientation when students arrive and students should take careful notes, particularly for information on academic policies and safety issues. Students are sometimes distracted since they are eager to explore their new surroundings, but the information is vital to a successful and safe experience. Students should also be prepared for certain requirements and restrictions that are being imposed to address the current pandemic. Please encourage your student to heed the advice of the program director or university staff in all matters of health and safety.  

Often the program may restrict students from certain activities (driving, riding motorcycles, hitchhiking, rock-climbing, scuba diving, bungee-jumping etc. - note that most insurance policies exclude coverage for injuries resulting from participation in these activities or other extreme sports). Traffic accidents and drowning are the leading cause of injuries to US travelers while abroad, and many of the other restricted activities are not regulated in other countries. These program rules are in place for the safety of the students and we ask you to encourage your student to heed the program advice.

If your student has any ongoing health issues that may require treatment while abroad or receives any academic accommodations at Scripps, please ensure that the program sponsor is informed well before departure so that appropriate arrangements can be made, as is possible, in the host location.  Students should contact the office of Academic Resources and Services to have any accommodation documentation forwarded to the program sponsor so that the program can work with the student on the support services available abroad.  For questions regarding access to prescriptions or other health-related support services while abroad, students should register with Zurich 24/7 Travel Assistance before departure to gain access to advice and many helpful resources. Information is available through SAGE.