COVID-19 FAQ for Rotary Youth Exchange District 5180
Rotary International has approved youth exchanges beginning in July 2022. We will continue to closely monitor recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) related to the COVID-19. With this in mind, we will begin accepting applications for exchange in 2021 for students who wish to participate in an exchange during the 2022-23 year. This year, more than ever, we will encourage students to remain flexible and keep an open mind about exchange programs and host families.
Q: Why isn’t Rotary sending students on exchange until 2022, while other student exchange programs have decided to continue in some form during the pandemic?
A: The business model of other student exchange programs is dependent upon them continuing to be profitable. Because we are a not-for-profit volunteer organization, we can put the safety of our participants and communities first and prioritize a quality experience backed by volunteers. We can afford to take additional time to ensure that our exchange program is safer, equitable, and a fully engaging experience for everyone involved.
Q: I’m a student, and I want to be a long-term exchange student in 2022-23. What should I do?
A: For Long-Term Exchanges (a full academic year), review our program information and find a local Rotary club to see if they will sponsor you on exchange. Once you’ve identified a local Rotary club that will sponsor you, you should follow the application process on our website. Applications for the 2022-23 academic year must be submitted by Oct. 15, 2021.
A: For Short-Term Exchanges, we will begin the application process in January of 2022. We will not be able to send students on exchange before July 2022.
Q: Will students be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19?
A: Because the safety of our students, families and volunteers is our first priority, we will require that all eligible students (inbound and outbound), host families and volunteers with student contact in district 5180 provide proof of full vaccination in order to participate. We will also follow all requirements issued by our local, county and state health departments, in addition to CDC recommendations, in regards to mask wearing and social distancing for in-person events.
Q: How are you monitoring the situation in the countries where you will be exchanging students?
A: We have deep relationships with Rotary clubs and districts in the countries where we participate in youth exchange. In addition to monitoring the travel recommendations from the CDC and our travel and health insurance partner, Cultural Insurance Services International, we remain in constant contact with our partners to understand their local situations. As we establish agreements with these clubs and districts, we will remain flexible to the changing conditions of the pandemic and local health conditions.
Q: Are there any exchange opportunities for students who want to participate in 2021-22 or who want a preview of what an in-person exchange might be like?
A: YES! Our Virtual Exchange Program provides students with an opportunity to participate as if they were going to travel to a host country, but they will do it virtually! This 8-week program is tentatively scheduled for February-March, 2022.
Volunteers and host families
Q: What will be required of Rotary Youth Exchange volunteers and host families?
A: We believe that any decision that prioritizes the health, safety, and well-being of our students, families and volunteers is the right decision. Therefore, we will require that all eligible students, host families and volunteers with student contact in district 5180 provide proof of full vaccination in order to participate.
We will also follow all requirements issued by our local, county and state health departments, in addition to CDC recommendations in regards to mask wearing and social distancing for in-person events.