Peace Corps Service During COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact life across the globe. The pandemic has set back years of development progress, exacerbated existing inequalities and disproportionately impacted countries where the Peace Corps serves.
With decades of experience contributing to large-scale public health efforts, the Peace Corps is in a unique position to provide the grassroots, community-driven service critical to global COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
The Peace Corps is currently in the process of ensuring a safe return to service following the global evacuation of volunteers in March of 2020, reviewing medical, security, programmatic, administrative, and logistical criteria. The agency will determine when conditions permit the return of Volunteers to each individual post and will continue to monitor and respond to changing circumstances after Volunteers return to service.
How does COVID-19 change service?
Peace Corps service will be different than in prior years, and will include specific COVID protocols that may evolve based on the conditions in each country. While Volunteers will continue to serve in our traditional sectors, there will be a new emphasis and focus on helping our partner communities address the impacts of the pandemic.
The agency continues to evaluate and update policies based on the evolving nature of the pandemic. There are mitigation measures in place to protect the health and safety of our Volunteers, host country staff, and host communities. Volunteers may travel internationally while on annual leave during service with prior approval from the Country Director. Additionally, there is the possibility that service could be disrupted in the future, in other ways by the pandemic. Examples of this may include—but are not restricted to—visitation restrictions, housing requirements, and limitations on gatherings and social activities.
Service will require understanding and acceptance of the additional risks that come with volunteering in a pandemic and will require compliance with agency standards for mitigating these risks wherever possible. The Peace Corps seeks Volunteers who are ready to meet this historic moment with a sense of responsibility, empathy, and passion. Volunteers will work alongside partners to make progress on the biggest development challenge the world has faced in more than a century.
As a requirement of medical clearance, incoming Volunteers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering service. The agency has determined that this health measure is in the best interest of protecting the health and safety of Volunteers, staff, and the communities we serve.
Peace Corps Volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated as defined by the CDC before entering on duty. Information about obtaining the vaccine and recommended booster shots can be found on the CDC’s website.
All post staff have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Domestic staff are required to be vaccinated by November 22, 2021, as required by the U.S. federal government.
COVID-19 Volunteer activities
Volunteers will be trained in how to best protect themselves from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. They may also have the opportunity to engage with their host community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where Volunteers serve.
Frequently asked questions
What will the Peace Corps do if a Volunteer gets COVID-19 during service?
If a Volunteer gets COVID-19 during service, the Peace Corps medical officer, with support from the Office of Health Services, will provide all necessary care. We require all Volunteers to be vaccinated in order to serve in order to reduce the risk of contracting the disease or developing serious health issues as a result of infection.
How will the Peace Corps’ COVID-19 restrictions impact my safety during service?
Peace Corps has taken the steps that Volunteers will contract or spread COVID-19. In some cases, we’re limiting the use of public transportation where social distancing and/or mask use is not enforced. As a result, some communities may not be available to serve in at this time if private transportation options are not available.
What critical factors are the Peace Corps monitoring to determine when returning to service is possible?
Critical health and safety factors that determine when the Peace Corps will return to a country include: the current trends in the number of COVID-19 cases, hospital capacity in host countries, and the Peace Corps’ ability to transport Volunteers to regional medical evacuation centers in the event of an emergency.
Peace Corps CARES Act funding plan
As required by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), this document represents the Peace Corps’ plan to the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee (PRAC) [PDF] describing how the agency will use “covered funds”.