WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER.
Travel in response to COVID-19 continues to evolve with time. Dragons is closely monitoring the situation, following the advice of public health experts, and making decisions with our participants, staff, and global community partners at the forefront of every conversation. Give us a call to discuss any additional questions you may have: 303.413.0822.
A RESPONSIBLE AND INTENTIONAL RETURN TO TRAVEL
After months of planning and preparation, Dragons successfully ran two North America based Gap Semesters in Fall 2020 and three more are underway this Spring 2021. Although there has been heavy demand for in-person programming, we have followed our travel mantra to go slow and mindfully as we navigate the many considerations of programming amidst a public health crisis. This intentional approach has allowed us to develop, hone, and implement our COVID safe travel practices with the best interests of our staff, participants, and communities at center. Over the past year, Dragons has been a leader in developing industry wide pandemic best practices, advised schools on COVID mitigation strategies, and collaborated with partner organizations to offer modified programming. With a strong and tested risk management foundation, we will be able to gradually return to international travel programs in 2021.
INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMMING OUTLOOK
We have been heartened by the recent trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the US, we’ve seen a steady decline in numbers likely due to a combination of preventative measures, vaccination, and broader immunity in the population. Globally, travel restrictions have started to soften and countries are reopening their borders to travelers once again. We are not out of the woods yet, but we are headed in the right direction: we believe international programming will be possible in 2021.
Please visit our regularly updated SUMMER INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL OUTLOOK and FALL INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL OUTLOOK pages for more detailed information about our current green, yellow, and red tiered country assessments.
COMMUNITY RELIEF FUND
Many of the global communities and nonprofits that have made Dragons programs possible over the past 28 years have been hit especially hard by COVID-19. In response, the Dragons Fund—a nonprofit 501c3 and our nonprofit partner organization—created the Community Relief Fund.
The Community Relief Fund provides direct support to our in-country partners who are particularly vulnerable. The fund has raised more than $33,000 which has been distributed through small grants, mostly aimed at providing food and essential supplies (like PPE) to households. Learn more about the Community Relief Fund.
Photo: Connecting with homestay mothers in Tiquipaya, Bolivia.
FAQs: DRAGONS AND COVID-19
HOW IS DRAGONS RESPONDING TO COVID-19?
We are consulting regularly with our risk management team, regional staff, and a variety of global health experts and organizations including the WHO, CDC, and our partner in managing student health and safety, International SOS. In addition, Dragons is in touch with peer organizations in order to share information and work collaboratively in the interest of our participants and partner communities. We have developed an in-field management and response plan and trained our staff to risk factors, prevention measures, and response protocols. As travel restrictions lift and conditions improve, we will engage international programming that take into account COVID-19 considerations. On a domestic front, Dragons begin offering in-person student semesters in the US beginning in Fall 2020. By using a combination of testing, prevention practices, and intentional itinerary design we’ve been able to successfully run high quality and safe programming amidst the pandemic.
WHEN WILL DRAGONS RESUME INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMMING?
Dragons has cancelled all spring 2021 scheduled international programs, although we are operating domestically. While there have been a few positive developments at home and abroad, the persistent global uncertainty, risk of contagion to host communities, and unprecedented travel restrictions still make it difficult for us to offer international programming. This said, we are optimistic that we will be able to resume international programming in the near future; additional time, downward trends, interventions, & understanding will greatly increase the chances of programs running as soon as Summer 2021. Once the global travel conditions improve, it will still be likely that certain restrictions and social distancing measures will remain in place and ultimately, that travel may look different until we have a widely distributed vaccine. We anticipate that the coming months will be a very telling time in determining the short-term trajectory of the response to COVID-19 as vaccine distribution, social distancing policies, and travel restrictions shift. We know that our participants, instructors, and in-country partners are eagerly awaiting definitive updates, and we are grateful for your patience and understanding as we collectively hope for the global situation to improve.
HOW WILL DRAGONS DECIDE WHICH PROGRAMS TO RUN?
We have been actively assessing programming feasibility on two primary areas in which we need to feel high confidence before committing to an international program:
- International Travel Global and country specific travel restrictions need to be relaxed. This includes things like travel advisories, country entry requirements, flight availability, quarantine upon arrival, etc.
- Host Country Conditions We cannot offer programs if mandatory shelter in-place type policies are in effect in the specific areas in which we travel. While we could operate with enhanced health & safety precautions, we need to have general freedom of movement & association in order to facilitate an interactive and engaging experience, as well as minimize the risks to host communities and our students. Host country conditions are being assessed on a place-by-place basis. For more on country specific assessments, see our Green, Yellow, and Red Tier system discussed above.
The above is a very simplified summary of some of the key global switches that need to turn from red to green over the coming months in order for us to resume programming in 2021. In each of these areas, we will be giving foremost consideration to the safety of our students and in-country partners, as well as the impacts on the overall quality of the experience. In addition, we may need to consider other program modifications and alternatives to adhere to public health best practices in the places we travel.
Student safety is always our top priority, and we would not hesitate to modify or cancel upcoming programs should it ever appear that student health and well-being could not adequately be ensured, or if travel restrictions inhibited us from delivering a high-quality program experience. This said, we are increasingly confident that we will be able to offer international programs in 2021.
WHAT IS DRAGONS REFUND POLICY FOR UPCOMING PROGRAMS?
We have updated our Summer & Gap Refund Policies to give you additional flexibility in making plans in these uncertain times. We will continue to proactively update our refund policy to provide you with added flexibility as new information comes to light. Our intention is to minimize financial commitments and risk so that you can stay with us as we wait for the global situation to improve.
SHOULD WE CONSIDER TRAVELING IN THIS NEW REALITY?
Dragons core mission is to foster face-to-face human connection, which feels more necessary now than ever. As restrictions begin to relax, we want to acknowledge that travel will continue to have inherent risks and the decision whether to travel is a very personal one. In a world increasingly eager to shut itself off from one another we fear that the pandemic may be another catalyst for increasing divisions and fear of difference. We hope that this trend will lessen as COVID is brought under control and that we can continue to build bridges and greater understanding between cultures. Ultimately, it’s not a question of if this global health crisis will pass, but rather when. And once it does, the need for an immersive and empathetic global education will be greater than ever.
WHAT IS DRAGONS VACCINE POLICY?
Starting in the Fall of 2021, Dragons will require all program participants to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccine, subject to limited exemptions and exceptions, prior to the start of a program. You can read the full policy here.
WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE INFORMATION ABOUT DRAGONS AND COVID-19?
We are here to support you during this difficult and uncertain time. If you would like more information related to COVID-19, some of the best online resources can be found on the websites of the US. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. For more information about Dragons and our approach to COVID-19 (or anything else for that matter) please do not hesitate to contact our office at 303-413-0822 or send us an email. We’re always happy to help in any way we can.
Safety & Health