USP@UCU COVID-19 Statement

Updated August 24, 2020
 
Due to the global impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the Uganda Studies Program at UCU is not running a Fall 2020 semester in Uganda. As of now, we are monitoring the situation even as we continue to work towards the running of our Spring 2021 semester. How things develop over the next few months will determine whether we will be able to run a Spring 2021 semester. We intend to make and announce a final decision about the Spring by early November.
 
Over the next two months, we will be creating new COVID 19-specific safety measures and protocols in concert with guidelines and protocols set forth by the government of Uganda, the leadership of Uganda Christian University (link), our sending institutions, the USP@UCU advisory committee (link), and other key partners and stakeholders. If it is determined that we can safely run a Spring 2021 semester, these will be communicated at that time.
 
In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have specific questions.
 

Student Safety in Uganda

Almost half a million tourists visit Uganda annually and more than 2,000 Americans plus many other Westerners live in the country. Statistically, Americans are more likely to be in a car accident or injure themselves at home than they are to be involved in a terrorism incident while spending time in Uganda. The country and people are pro-West and likely know more about American politics than you do!

Uganda Christian University is located in the town of Mukono, an ideal setting 15 miles outside the capital city of Kampala. This removes it from many issues of urban life while providing access to the conveniences of the capital city. Still, negative encounters can occur in any setting. As part of the orientation, students are taught the basic do’s and don’ts of living in Uganda in order to minimize that possibility.

NOTE: All travel plans for USP are subject to change if it is deemed necessary to do so for reasons of safety. The safety of the USP participants and staff is a primary goal and will be taken into consideration using input from governmental and non-governmental experts, as well as people who live in and know the area in question. If travel to a certain region is cancelled, an effort will be made to replace it with other travel opportunities that provide optimal exposure to the history, people and culture of Uganda.

Commitment to Safety and Security

Crisis and Emergency Planning:

The Uganda Studies Program at UCU maintains a Crisis Management Team (CMT) to address critical issues involving students and staff on site. In the event of an emergency, appropriate CMT personnel will be mobilized to assess and respond to the emergency.

Decisions and responses regarding student health, safety and security normally are made in consultation with, as appropriate:

  • Uganda Christian University
  • USP@UCU Advisory Committee
  • Local in-country resources
  • Sending campuses
  • US Embassy officials in-country
  • US State Department Country Desk Officers
  • US State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
  • Emergency Services providers

Local Contingency Plans

Our program has a contingency plan which will be activated in the event of a known local condition that requires (a) extra caution, (b) restriction of program travel or activities, (c) relocation of the program to a different site in the same city, same country or a nearby country, or (d) suspension of the program and/or evacuation of participants. In addition, we have established plans for dealing with medical emergencies, accidents, personal threats and personal-family crises.

In the Event of a Program Emergency (e.g., political crisis, civilian/natural disaster, large scale civilian protest, imminent threat of terrorist activity):

  • The Program Director contacts participants to ascertain participants' well-being and to provide information, instructions, and advice.
  • After the on-site director notifies Executive Director that the group is safe and accounted for, s/he will consult further with the CMT regarding next steps including relocation, suspension or restriction of program activities or evacuation.
  • Arrangements will be made for participants to contact their parents, guardians, or emergency contacts as soon as possible.
  • Our office normally will send regular email updates to the participants' emergency contacts and home campus officials. Information normally will also be posted on our website on a regular basis providing current and pertinent status and safety information.

In the Event of a Participant Emergency (e.g., serious illness/injury, emotional problems or victim of a crime involving program participants or staff):

  • On-site personnel (director and staff) contact the appropriate local authorities (police, embassy, medical personnel) to begin the local action necessary to handle the situation.
  • On-site personnel contact the Executive Director to report the situation.
  • Our program will normally will phone the emergency contacts of the persons involved in the crisis to apprise them of the situation, if they have not already been contacted. FERPA rights should be waived for emergency contact situations.
  • Our program normally will contact the Chief Student Development Officer at the student's home campus to report the situation.
  • Necessary action will be taken, such as provision for medical care in country, medical evacuation, etc. In case of serious illness or injury, staff and local medical personnel will consult with family as much as reasonably practicable in making decisions regarding appropriate treatment and care for the student, including arranging for medical evacuation if required.

We consider student safety and security top priority.

Emergency plans are reviewed regularly in light of standards of good practice in the field of off-campus programming, local regional advice, risk management consultations and experience gained through previous emergency events. Program staff are well connected within their local communities with many years of experience and deep networks of resources to draw upon for advice and assistance. The program maintains appropriate insurance coverage for the scope and breadth of off-campus programming activities and conducts regular risk management reviews.  However, it is also important for participants, families and campuses to recognize that the Uganda Studies Program at UCU:

  • Cannot guarantee or assure the safety and/or security of participants or eliminate all risks from the study abroad/off-campus program environments.
  • Cannot monitor or control all of the daily personal decisions, choices, and activities of participants.
  • Cannot prevent participants from engaging in illegal, dangerous, unsafe, or unwise activities.
  • Cannot assume responsibility for actions or for events that are not part of the program, or for those that are beyond the control of the sponsor and its subcontractors, or for situations that may arise due to the failure of a participant to disclose pertinent information.

Important Notice:

In all emergency situations students enrolled in the program are expected to comply with all emergency measures decided and implemented by program staff. If a particular student (parent, campus) elects to enroll independently in a emergency response plan in additional to, or instead of that provided by the program the student must withdraw (in writing, with notification sent to home campus and emergency contacts) from the program before he/she will be allowed to participate in an evacuation or relocation plan other than that organized by the staff. Upon notification of withdrawal, the student will be released to the care and supervision of their selected emergency response provider. The student, campus or parent will bear all responsibility for notification of the emergency response provider and compliance with their terms, policies and procedures.

Uganda Studies Program at Uganda Christian University