The Sea|mester family stretches not just from coast to coast of the Continental United States but reaches all around the globe. From our maritime partners to our worldwide alumni, to our current and future students and staff; we know the Sea|mester family is far-flung and diverse. You are all very much in our thoughts at this moment in time.
Regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs, we know from experience that when we work together as a team to achieve common goals, we are unstoppable. Be it raising the sails, preparing a meal for 29 people, mixing cement for a construction project or chasing down a turtle to collect scientific data. Working as part of a team, we have so much to both offer and gain. These uncontrived learning opportunities define us as individuals. Their importance cannot be overstated.
So, what questions still need to be answered?
We are very optimistic that we will be able to run voyages on all three of our vessels this fall and with everyone out of school for an extended period and us all living cooped up, this summer could be the MOST important one of all to get socially, emotionally and educationally engaged.
That said, we recognize that governments, as well as local and international agencies around the world, are making many of these decisions for us (DOS and CDC Travel Advisories, Closed Borders, Forced Quarantine, etc.), so we are monitoring these directives while moving forward with our program planning and prep.
The travel, training, certification and service components of our programs add complexity which takes a lot of organization, preplanning, and expenditure. With enrollment on our programs being limited, we plan to connect with each student to check in with you and chat about your upcoming voyage.
In advance of that, please read through the following sections to review our plans to successfully run our study abroad and gap year programs in 2020 & 2021:
Can we run our programs?
With many borders currently closed and international flights scarce, this section addresses what we see as realistically possible in today’s climate. Below you will find the decisions we have made for our three Fall 2020 voyages. Again, we feel the need to be fluid as we are consistently adjusting our course as a result of the shifting winds.
Fall 2020 voyage on S/Y Argo - Atlantic circumnavigation - USA, Europe, and the Caribbean
Fall 2020 voyage on S/Y Ocean Star - Antigua to Grenada
Fall 2020 voyage on S/Y Vela - Singapore to South Africa
Should we run our programs?
This question is independent of whether we can run our program and addresses the inherent risks of disease transmission associated with close-quarters living, particularly during a time when personal hygiene and social distancing are considered the primary ways to limit the spread of Coronavirus. We have put a lot of thought and intention in coming up with ways to make our programs just as meaningful as before COVID-19 while doing everything we can to mitigate the risk as much as is possible in our environment. The following information is based on TODAY’S information.
We believe that the best way to limit the risk is to employ the following strategies:
- Strategy 1 – Minimize the likelihood of introducing infected individuals at the start of the trip.
- Strategy 2 – Once the trip is underway, limit the likelihood of becoming infected by others. In this case, “others” can be defined as asymptomatic staff or students or people with whom we may interact with outside of our immediate team.
- Strategy 3 – If any student or staff displays symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the trip, we will take all precautions in regard to the health and safety of the entire crew.
A word about COVID-19 Incubation – This is what the current science understands about the incubation period of Covid-19. The WHO states – “the time between exposure to COVID-19 and the moment when symptoms start is commonly around five to six days but can range from 1 – 14 days.” This information is relevant as it drives many of the risk mitigation strategies presented below.
Strategy 1 - Minimize the possibility of students and staff being infected with the virus at the start of the trip.
Strategy 2 - Once the trip is underway, limit the possibility of becoming infected by others. Others defined as asymptomatic staff or students or people with who we may interact with outside of our immediate team.
Strategy 3 - If any student or staff displays symptoms associated with COVID-19 during the trip, we will take all precautions in regard to the health and safety of the entire crew.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I switch my trip to another Sea|mester voyage?
What if I choose to cancel my voyage prior to the start date?
Will you issue refunds if outside circumstances cause a voyage to be canceled?
Sea|mester’s Standard Approach to Risk Management
Managing risk is a crucial part of any Sea|mester voyage. Awareness of these risks is the key to minimizing them, creating structure around them to mitigate and reduce them in appropriate ways.
Throughout the year, Sea|mester monitors the websites of trusted global agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) for current travel risks and advisories. Sea|mester also contracts with MedAire and International SOS, two of the largest security, medical, and emergency services organizations in the world. MedAire and International SOS provide valuable insight and information on global and regional safety as travelers prepare for their program. Every student and staff traveling with us has access to these services once enrolled and confirmed on a program. Sea|mester has been operating programs for decades and we coordinate with our local on the ground partners for up to date information on a local level.
We encourage families to stay informed by accessing the most up-to-date information available at…
- CDC – https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/
- DOS – https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html
- WHO – https://www.who.int/
- International SOS – https://www.internationalsos.com/
The CDC issues Travel Health Notices for any country that they feel travelers should be aware of and, along with Travel Advisories issued by the US Department of State, Sea|mester pays particular attention to this information. Travel Health Notices follow a consistent format and use plain language to help U.S. citizens find and use important information. Travel Health Notices inform travelers and clinicians about current health issues that impact travelers’ health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters, in specific international destinations.
- Watch Level 1 – Practice usual precautions for this destination, as described in the CDC Travel Health Notice and/or on the CDC destination page. This includes being up to date on all recommended vaccines and practicing appropriate mosquito avoidance.
- Alert Level 2 – Practice enhanced precautions for this destination. The Travel Health Notice describes additional precautions added or defines a specific at-risk population.
- Warning Level 3 – Avoid all non-essential travel to this destination. The outbreak is of high risk to travelers and no precautions are available to protect against the identified increased risk.