Ebola Resource for ISSS

October 21, 2014

For health-related issues such as the Ebola outbreak and H1N1, NAFSA’s Crisis Management Subcommittee recommends that senior international officers and directors of international student and scholar services offices review the institution’s crisis management plan. If there isn’t a comprehensive crisis management plan in place that addresses health issues, officials should collaborate with the risk management office and the director of health services on campus, and use the action items listed below.

Government Resources - Ebola

Action Items Checklist

Ensure that your office’s information is complete and accurate. This will be accomplished by finding reliable sources of information. Respected sources of information may include the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State, and students’ and scholars’ home-country embassies. See government resources listed above.

  • Be aware that State Department travel warnings and alerts are issued for entire countries, rather than affected regions within countries.
  • Guide students and scholars toward reliable sources of information. When appropriate, remove your office from the lines of communication and allow students and scholars to go directly to the source of information.

Ensure that international students and scholars understand repercussions of the situation within the United States. It is important that they understand any travel limitations or other rules that the United States may put in place.

Understand how travel restrictions can impact a student's or scholars' immigration status.

Monitor attitudes in your local community toward visitors from particular countries or regions of the world. If negative attitudes toward particular nationalities or ethnic groups surface, provide students and scholars with the support necessary to help them feel welcome. Consider encouraging visitors of the affected nationality or ethnicity to take appropriate precautions in order to stay safe. This could be sensitive politically and emotionally —deal with this issue cautiously and thoughtfully.

Research and provide students with available financial resources to help pay tuition and fees during emergencies. Such resources may include an economic hardship tuition waiver provided by your institution.

If a student or scholar needs to return to their home country, ensure that they have notified their instructors of their plan.

If necessary, provide them with a letter of support or explanation from your office.

If necessary, request an official temporary leave of absence.

Give students and scholars the opportunity to call home.

Crises in a student's or scholar's home country may be political, social, economic, environmental, or health related. For international students living abroad during such crises, it can be not only emotionally traumatic, but it can also greatly impact their course of studies, immigration status, and financial situation. Depending on your institution's international student and scholar demographics, such crises may impact just a few or many, many more. The first priority is to ensure the well-being of the student or scholar and then to provide assistance with immigration and resources for financial assistance. International clubs can often provide students and scholars with important social support if their home countries have been affected. Ask club representatives if your office can refer students and scholars affected by the crisis to their clubs.

Contact your counseling center to discuss how affected students and scholars can receive support. Giving them detailed information on how to get support will facilitate the process for them.

Contact local immigrant communities to see how they are providing support for their community.