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Press announcement

Ensuring Safe Return to Campus with Health and Security Guidelines for the Education Community

Academic institutions are gearing up to welcome students and employees back to campus. With the world navigating the impacts of various global health crises and security concerns, International SOS, the world’s leading health and security company, highlights the importance for education organisations to prioritise the health, security and wellbeing of their community.

During COVID-19, International SOS saw a 60% increase in requests for information and assistance within the education industry. The COVID-19 pandemic affected education globally and created the largest disruption of education systems in history, affecting nearly 1.6 billion learners in over 190 countries. Closures of schools, universities and other learning spaces impacted 94% of the world’s student population.1 By learning from the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions can play a pivotal role in minimising disruptions to learning. This may include implementing comprehensive health and security guidelines which will not only safeguard the wellbeing of students and staff but also enable a swift and coordinated response to future crises.

Dr Kate O’Reilly, Medical Director at International SOS, comments
The return to campus is an exciting time for students and employees. However, the resurgence of global health and security risks, highlights the critical need for robust health and safety measures. Having a comprehensive pandemic preparedness framework can minimise the potential impact of a future pandemic as well as providing information to maintain continuity of learning using adaptable online platforms and hybrid teaching models.

Prioritising health guidelines will significantly reduce the risk of illness and infections on campus. Additionally, promoting mental health support and hygiene practices contributes to a holistic and safe campus experience for all. In classrooms, one option is to provide disinfectant wipes that students can use to clean their seating areas themselves. In aging buildings, institutions should monitor and manage air quality to reduce airborne risk.
Henning Snyman, Security Director at International SOS, comments
As universities navigate the return to campus and resuming their study abroad programmes, it is crucial for educational institutions to understand the changes in the risk environments. Conducting thorough risk assessments and carefully vetting third-party study abroad providers would help universities in safeguarding their students.

When choosing a third-party provider, universities should carefully review the provider’s crisis and emergency response plan. Ensure that they have clear guidelines and provides support for common study abroad risks including hospitalisation, mental health crises and natural disasters. Moreover, universities should ensure that they regularly provide their stakeholders with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions during crises, promoting resilience and community cohesion.

International SOS shares the following health and safety tips for schools and universities to consider when preparing for return to campus:

  1. Implementing health guidelines: Collaborate closely with local health authorities and experts to implement comprehensive health guidelines.
  2. Healthcare access: Ensure students, staff and faculty have access to healthcare services when needed.
  3. Uplift mental health support for both staff and students: Offering mental health support and counselling services and resources to address the challenges that may arise during the return to campus life. Regularly communicate to students and faculty on the support available and how to access it.
  4. Enhancing hygiene practices: Encourage frequent handwashing, provide sanitisation stations across campus and increase air flow and ventilation to limit the spread of infections.
  5. Comprehensive risk assessments: Conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential health and safety hazards on campus and develop actionable plans to address them effectively.
  6. Educating the community: Ensure effective communication channels to disseminate accurate and up-to-date information on health and safety protocols to students, faculty, and staff. Transparent communication builds trust and enables individuals to take proactive measures.
  7. Emergency preparedness: Establish clear emergency response plans, ensuring everyone knows the correct actions to take in case of health crises or other emergencies.

For more information on how International SOS can assist with your campus plans, click here. To assess your return to campus readiness and identify gaps that reside within your current Return to Campus plan, click here.

About the International SOS Group of Companies
The International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives and protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, and your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity, and sustainability.

Founded in 1985, the International SOS Group, headquartered in London & Singapore, is trusted by over 9,000 organisations. This includes the majority of the Fortune Global 500. As well as mid-size enterprises, governments, educational institutions, and NGOs. Nearly 12,000 multi-cultural security, medical, logistics and digital experts stand with you to provide support & assistance from over 1,200 locations in 90 countries, 24/7, 365 days. Between them, International SOS employees speak nearly 100 languages and dialects in our Assistance Centres, Clinics, and offices.

To protect your workforce, we are at your fingertips: