September 27, 2020

COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) Health Resources & Effects on the Gap Year

(This post contains sections on Safety, 3 Response Scenarios, & Articles)

Interim's primary concern is the safety of our students. Given the current situation with COVID-19, we are monitoring the most informed news about it so that we can share the best information with our families.

The following resources provide reliable and timely sources of information:
The Center for Disease Control
The United States Department of State
The World Health Organization for International Travel and Health
The National Association of International Educators
The EPA released a list of Sanitizers for Use

For updated travel restrictions by country:
IATA - International Air Transport Association and US Dept of State

For rapid testing sites in your area:

3 Scenarios in Response to COVID-19 Potential Restrictions:
We understand that families are concerned about COVID-19 and its effects on the current gap year. It is difficult to know for certain what the landscape will be like into spring 2021 and we have outlined three possible scenarios and how it is possible to respond effectively given the range of available options:

  1. Ideal Options: If students are eager to attend programs out of the US, they apply and see how things go in terms of travel restrictions - this has worked well this fall with students able to attend programs in Ireland, the UK, and Israel, and some are about to step into October programs in Costa Rica.
  2. Backup Domestic Options: Students also apply to US-based program(s) which can range from group gap year options, to shorter skill-based intensives, a few internship options (tougher to find in the US for gap year students), and finally volunteer placements - we have many students this fall on group programs in Hawaii and the mainland US as well as engaged in conservation projects, business and physical therapy internships, and gaining Wilderness EMT training.
  3. Backup Backup Options: Our  ORL (Online Resource List) of over 100 links include courses of all kinds, internships, volunteer work, seminars and certifications, arts, fitness, etc. These options can be utilized as filler, if need be, and allow students to buy time if they have to quarantine again before stepping into the next hands-on experience - most of our students have understandably preferred hands on experiences this year, if possible, but some have utilized online entrepreneurial workshops and internships, language or computer training, and volunteer options.

One great gap year benefit, especially this year, is how much flexibility is involved with swift and easy changes in plans as needed. Program variety allows students to still engage in interesting experiences as they wait to see how the world landscape unfolds, and with increased freedom of movement, they can turn on a dime to step into options further afield. Gap year learning is all about rolling with change and the challenge of becoming comfortable with shifting plans, whether due to internal or external factors. Our current situation with this virus definitely poses one of the more challenging external pressures for change, but we are already witnessing this fall that it is possible to successfully carry on nonetheless with the above array of potential adjustments and options.

LATimes (7/16/20) - benefits of taking a gap year this particular year and some of the options and resources available:

Chronicle of Higher Education (5/19/20) - see updated list of college decisions about fall classes:

Bloomberg Businessweek (5/15/20) - Holly Bull, Gap Year Counselor at Interim, quoted in this article on the economic implications for this year's gap year:

Stay healthy and well,

Holly Bull & Kate Warren
Center for Interim Program Gap Year Counselors 

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