Health & Safety
Our Top Priority.
The health, safety, and well-being of all participating students, families, coaches, and staff on all Beyond Sports programs is a top priority for the organization on every level. Beyond Sports is committed to providing clear and comprehensive risk management support, infrastructure, policies, and procedures regarding all health and safety matters for any program participant, whether traveling individually or as part of a collective group.
We ensure a proactive approach to the safety and security of all participants during the pre-departure, on-site experience, and re-entry phases of each program:
Program Staff & On-Site Support
International Health Insurance
Program Staff & On-Site Support
All program staff are trained to provide effective and rapid responses in any emergency situation that could arise while abroad. For our high school programs, we maintain a 8:1 student-staff ratio. Our local staff have emergency cell phones with them at all times, and our U.S. staff monitors a 24/7 phone line.
Beyond Sports has a 24-hour, 7-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year emergency phone line for students, parents and families, coaches, and administrators. Emergency phone number: +1 (858) 568-7111
Prior to departure, Beyond Sports participants will be given a pre-departure guide with emergency contact information including local hospital information.
All local staff are required to complete emergency response preparedness training programs which include visits to the hospitals and health clinics in the area.
International Health Insurance
Beyond Sports provides extensive blanket international health insurance coverages to all individual program participants through our partnership with CISI Travel Insurance: https://www.culturalinsurance.com/. Students are automatically enrolled in this insurance plan unless they indicate that they will be utilizing pre-existing coverage. Sports-related injuries are also covered through CISI Insurance.
Our staff thoroughly prepares our students for the international travel component of GLASS. Prior to departure, each student will receive:
A detailed pre-departure guide that includes a full explanation of travel day logistics
Access to a private group message where they can quickly communicate with our staff
Direct contact information for the program director and our international travel coordinator
Beyond Sports is a first-time international experience for many of our students. Ensuring that all students are ready for travel is a high priority. Our staff is readily available to speak with students and families prior to their program to answer any international travel questions.
Upon arrival, all Beyond Sports students will participate in a program orientation. Our orientation covers expectations and health & safety protocols. All students will be required to sign our Student Code of Conduct when registering for a Beyond Sports program. This document is in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community members.
COVID-19 Pandemic Consideration
The COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required for any of our programs––this is subject to change based on government mandates.
We want to take this opportunity to share our broader thinking as well as some of the specific criteria we used in deciding to offer this program. Student health & safety is and always will be our top priority as an organization.
We are a mission-driven organization that believes international travel and experiencing different cultures is an important ingredient to a fulfilling life, both for what it teaches us about other people and places, and how it helps us appreciate what we have in the United States. We also believe that the high school and college ages are a unique developmental period where many 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunities are more available and accessible than in other stages in life.
We know that there is a diverse spectrum of risk tolerance and beliefs about what safety measures are reasonable during the pandemic for both healthy high school-aged students in particular, and also, how that demographic's choices might impact members of our communities who are more vulnerable to the virus. We don't expect everyone will agree with our assessments 100%, however, we hope that by detailing our thinking, students and their parents will be able to make their own informed decisions while understanding what expectations we will have for students while abroad.
We have been tracking the Covid-19 pandemic closely since January 2020 when evidence of community spread outside of China first emerged. Over that time, we have done our best to filter through overwhelming amounts of information while remaining skeptical of advice that might be politically or financially motivated. We prefer data-backed and scientifically verifiable information while trying to appropriately weigh new information that might not yet hold a scientific consensus.
As has always been the case in our risk assessment and analysis, we recognize that truly 100% guaranteed safety is impossible in our world. Instead, we must assess risks to student safety relative to a realistic alternative.
COVID-19 Health & Safety Topics
Viral Infection Protocol
Following guidance from the CDC and American Camp Association (ACA), the following safety measures are in place for our 2023 program operations:
Students will undergo daily symptom checks.
Any student who is suspected to have a viral infection or who tests positive for COVID-19 will be relocated to their own room to minimize the risk of spread.
*Masks: Due to a significant decrease in COVID-19 numbers and updated CDC guidelines, students are no longer required to wear masks for our programs.
*Note: Our COVID-19 management protocol changes when new data and information emerge. Students and families will be kept up-to-date with changes.
Updated: November 2022
Healthy Young Adults & Covid
In the early months of the pandemic, there was significant uncertainty about many of the fundamental metrics that epidemiologists use to assess the threat and determine the appropriate response to a novel virus.
Fortunately, as better data emerged, it became clear that mortality risk was heavily weighted to the elderly and patients with a comorbidity. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, 80% of Covid deaths in the US have been in people aged 65 and older with those over 85 with the highest risk of serious symptoms.
In an effort to provide context, according to the CDC, more Americans in the 15-24 age bracket have died from Pneumonia in 2021 than COVID-19.
This Mayo Clinic Article offers a good summary of underlying health conditions that increase risk and, as always, we recommend getting advice from a medical professional.
In determining when it is possible to travel again, our organization has been simultaneously focused on both the risks the virus poses to student health as well as potential complications with international borders or other political uncertainty. While COVID-19 is a new consideration for us, we've accessed several other health related risks over the years including Zika Virus, Dengue Fever, and Ebola. Likewise, we've evaluated a wide variety of political risk in each of the countries where we operate.
There is no requirement for quarantine upon arrival in any of our program countries. We are confident that the countries where we operate programs will remain open to and accommodating of US citizens for the remainder of the pandemic. In the extremely unlikely event of a border closure, we would have plenty of warning for students to finish out their program or return home.
Another consideration during the pandemic is ensuring that our students would have easy access to high quality medical care for COVID or any other reasons. In normal times, local hospitals in all countries where we operate serve the large communities of ex-pats and are equipped to manage large influxes of tourists during the high season. We have no concerns that the local hospitals will be overburdened. We will continue to monitor these factors closely.
Airport protocols are similar to those in the US, masks are recommended for all travelers as well as all security people and TSA agents are constantly disinfecting surfaces between travelers.
We recommend a surgical mask rather than a cloth mask which studies have shown to reduce risk of transmission. Studies also show that a face shield in addition to a mask further decreases risk.
We recognize that your flight is probably our highest risk factor despite research showing that airplanes pose less risk than normal daily activities like visiting a grocery store or eating out.