As international educators, we remain deeply committed to the health and well-being of students and scholars around the world. We recognize the important role we have in ensuring the safety of all students, and we encourage leaders in organizations beyond higher education and across all industries to examine how they can proactively help respond to this public health crisis.
In response to ongoing developments regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance on March 1 asking U.S. institutions of higher education to "consider postponing or canceling student foreign exchange programs." NAFSA recommends that each institution work with state and local public health officials to determine the best approach for its students and scholars, which we recognize many members are already doing.
NAFSA has also confirmed with the CDC that the guidance issued on March 1 is not intended to apply to international students studying in the United States, rather the guidance is meant to inform decisions related to American students studying abroad. We urge policymakers to safeguard the fundamental purposes of international education while seeking to preserve public health.
NAFSA’s strength lies in the exchange of information and the support our members provide each other, especially in times of uncertainty. Our recent Town Hall provided a forum for this valuable conversation, and we thank those who shared their insights and experiences with our community. NAFSA will continue to facilitate exchange and update members with the latest information on this changing situation.
As we prepare for the NAFSA 2020 Annual Conference & Expo in St. Louis, Missouri, I want to assure you that NAFSA continues to monitor health statements from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization regarding the novel coronavirus, which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and is following the guidelines from these agencies and local health departments.
The well-being of our members, conference attendees, volunteers, and NAFSA staff is of the utmost importance. NAFSA will continue to follow this situation and to provide updates and resources through direct outreach, social media, and nafsa.org. For more information about how COVID-19 is affecting international education, please visit our resource page at www.nafsa.org/coronavirus.
Thank you for all that you do.
President, NAFSA: Association of International Educators