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ARCC’s Approach to Coronavirus / FAQ

Our resources for monitoring the situation on the ground in Asia are vast. We have numerous longtime partners throughout the region and we are getting updates from them almost on a daily basis. We also currently have gap semester programs operating in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and are receiving reports firsthand from our gap instructors regarding circumstances in these countries. Additionally, ARCC receives updates from the State Department travel program, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Johns Hopkins as well as dozens of news sources, many of them local sources in our areas of travel. We feel we have a good grasp on the current circumstances in the areas in which we operate.

Based on what we have heard and what our leaders are seeing firsthand, here are are some of our thoughts, observations, and actions taken so far:

We have canceled our China programs:
Clearly China is compromised and will be for the foreseeable future. ARCC Programs to China will be off the table for this season. Four weeks ago we rerouted our Asia Gap semesters to Nepal instead of China. We have also suspended our summer China program.

The number of cases in Southeast Asia where we travel remains surprisingly low:
Considering approximately 200 million people live in the region, there have been relatively few cases of Coronavirus: Thailand (37), Vietnam (18) and Cambodia (1). Most of these patients were infected while traveling in China. There have been only 2 new cases reported in these countries in the last week (updated Feb. 25, 2020).

Countries have been taking extreme measures to keep the virus contained:
Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and all other countries surrounding China appear to have done an excellent job of keeping Coronavirus from spreading to and within their countries by barring flights from areas of concern, using extreme screening methods/closures at borders and enforcing quarantines for known cases.

Business/tourism is as usual outside of China:
Other than the noticeable absence of Chinese tourists, our groups on the ground and our local partners report that it is “business as usual” at most of the local destinations. For example, although tourism is down 50% in Thailand (most of that decrease is from the ban on Chinese travelers), there are still almost 400,000 tourists currently in Thailand.

New Cases in China are slowing down:
According to Johns Hopkins, the pace of new cases in China has finally started to slow down, which is potentially good news suggesting that containment and treatment are starting to take effect. Hopefully this trend will be mirrored in other countries which are several weeks behind China in the infection cycle.

A Coronavirus vaccine will soon be tested:
Johnson & Johnson, a U.S. manufacturer, shipped a Coronavirus vaccine to the government for testing. Human trials are likely to start in April.

ARCC has been dealing with “unusual” situations for almost 40 years. We have dealt with earthquakes, volcanoes, coups, border closings, civil unrest, and many other unpredictable events. Our infrastructure allows us to quickly make changes to an itinerary and we have the global resources to effortlessly make these adjustments.

Coronavirus Related Refund Extensions and Trip Guarantees

You may have concerns about the coronavirus and how it might affect your enrollment on an ARCC program. Every day new information becomes available, and some is positive and some is negative. While we are all hopeful that the situation will be resolved between now and the 5 to 8 months when our summer and gap programs operate, it is of course impossible to predict where all this is going.

Therefore, it is our wish to remove any uncertainty regarding your investment in an ARCC program. Our goal is to give you the best of all worlds with no risk to you. As a result, this year we are offering the following guarantees:

1. Broadly Expand ARCC’s Refund Policy: We will expand our normal refund policy so that 100% of your deposit and tuition payments will be fully refundable—no questions asked–until April 1st for summer programs and until July 1st for fall gap Semester programs. This way there is not risk to you if you enroll in a program and withdraw prior to April/July 1st.

2. Guarantee a Seat on Any ARCC Program:
If, after enrolling in a program, you change your mind and want to switch to a different destination, that will be no problem as we will guarantee you a seat on any ARCC program or destination and will fully credit any payment already made to ARCC. Normally, many programs fill by February (summer) and May (gap). This year, however, we will guarantee you a seat on almost any other program if you wish to transfer any time between now and April 1st (summer) or July 1st (gap).

Coronavirus FAQ

What is your current take on the Coronavirus?

-While things can certainly change, for now the small number of cases outside of China do not appear to pose a significant threat to the hundreds of thousands of tourists currently traveling in these areas. We are hearing from our partners that extraordinary efforts are being made to keep the virus contained.

-Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and all other countries surrounding China have done an excellent job of keeping coronavirus from spreading to their countries by barring flights from areas of concern, using extreme screening methods at borders and requiring quarantine for known cases.

-Containment efforts in Asia (outside of China) have seemingly been as effective as those of the United States in limiting new Coronavirus cases.

-So far, the number of cases in southeast Asia remains relatively low: Thailand (37), Vietnam (18) and Cambodia (1). 65% of these cases were infected while traveling in China (updated Feb. 25, 2020).

What do you expect in the next several months:

Like everyone, we are hopeful that several things occur in the next several months:

1) The cases begin to resolve themselves through limited transmission and containment.

2) Anticipated warmer weather in the northern hemisphere begins to kill off the virus.

3) The current treatments in testing prove to be effective.

How are you monitoring the situation?

As you might imagine, we have been continuously monitoring the situation in China and the surrounding countries very closely. We have longtime partners on the ground throughout Asia and are getting updates from them almost on a daily basis. We also currently have gap programs operating throughout Asia (with the exception of China) and are receiving reports firsthand from our gap instructors regarding circumstances on the ground.

ARCC also receives updates from the State Department travel program, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as well as dozens of news sources. We feel we have a good grasp on the circumstances in the areas in which we operate.

What are your resources on the ground?

Everywhere ARCC operates we have a local partner, on the ground, in that country. Our partners are invaluable resources for us. They provide local knowledge, current information, logistics assistance, and access to resources normally not available to outsiders. They are well connected in their communities and act as an important safety net if an emergency occurs.

Can ARCC change an itinerary once a program has started?

Yes. We can easily make changes to an itinerary. We plan for this and embed flexibility into our programming. ARCC has been dealing with “unusual” situations for almost 40 years. We have dealt with earthquakes, volcanoes, coups, border’s closing, civil unrest, and many other unpredictable events. Our infrastructure allows us to quickly make changes to an itinerary and we have the global resources to effortlessly make these adjustments. As an example, just several days before the beginning of the most recent 90-day gap semester in Asia, we seamlessly swapped out our 4 week China section for a 4 week section in Nepal.

What is ARCC’s refund policy?

We have expanded our refund policy to allow you a 100% refund if you withdraw for any reason until April 1st (summer) or July 1st (gap).

If I become uncomfortable with the situation in Asia, can I transfer to another program if I wish?

Yes. We will guarantee you a seat on almost any other program if you decide to transfer before April 1st (summer) and July 1st (gap) (The only exception would be for programs that we have a limited number of beds available).

Why are April 15th and July 1st important dates?

These are roughly the dates when families make payments for flight arrangements. While we can generally fully refund payments made to ARCC for ground costs, after April 1st (summer) and July 1st (gap), we unfortunately can’t compel the airlines to make refunds to families for flights.

I’m still uncomfortable. What should I do?

If you still have additional questions, please give us a call at 415-332-5075. Please know that we look at everything we do and everywhere we travel through the lens of student safety and we would be happy to share our thoughts with you.