|Holger Knaack President, 2020-21|
|Dear District Governors and District Youth Exchange leaders,|
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Rotary International I want to make you aware of an important update regarding Rotary Youth Exchange. At our November Board meeting we took the difficult but necessary decision to suspend both short-term and long-term Rotary Youth Exchange through 30 June 2021.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board continues to significantly limit or suspend all Rotary activities that require travel or in-person meetings. Although we were all hopeful that the situation globally would have stabilized enough to allow districts to safely resume exchanges, there is simply still too much uncertainty. We must do everything we can to protect our students, families, or volunteers from the risks associated with this dangerous disease. As a reminder, the consequences for any district that does not follow the Board’s guidelines are consistent with the policies and procedures for unauthorized exchange programs and activities that put students at risk.
Of course I share in your disappointment and frustration, as I am myself a tireless champion for Rotary Youth Exchange, but now is the time to prove our dedication and resilience. Now is the time to show that, despite these unprecedented challenges, Rotary Opens Opportunities. Take this time to strengthen your program — review the new Rotary Youth Protection Guide, enroll in the Protecting Youth Programs Participants course in Rotary’s Learning Center, or consider ways to incorporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) into your program. Many districts are creating virtual exchanges. Join us for a webinar on 22 January 2021 to learn more about creating your own or participating in virtual exchanges. And don’t forget about our other incredible Rotary programs such as Interact and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) to keep our young people — and volunteers — engaged during this time.
Our staff are here to support you during this time by providing updated and new resources, sharing engagement strategies, and addressing your questions or concerns. As we look to the future and prepare resume exchanges when it is again safe, please use this time to carefully review the safety guidelines and develop a crisis management plan.
Thank you again for all that you do to support Rotary Youth Exchange, and for your understanding and cooperation as we do what is necessary to keep our students safe.
President, Rotary International 2020-21
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