Last updated August 11, 2021
The Peace Corps is planning for a return to host countries after temporary suspending all activity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and bringing all American Peace Corps volunteers home in March 2020. In June 2021, Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn announced that the Agency will soon resume inviting volunteers to serve in countries that have met rigorous health, security and safety standards in early 2022.
Belize is expected to be the first country expected to welcome back volunteers, and the Agency is adapting programs to meet the needs of a post-pandemic world. For example, in Belize, volunteers will engage in literacy work to help local schools recover following COVID-19 shutdowns and disruptions to the education system.
A review of COVID-19’s impact on the Peace Corps
At the outset of the pandemic, overseas travel was canceled, study abroad programs were abruptly ended, and cultural exchanges were stopped for thousands of Americans. This was especially the case for 7,330 American Peace Corps volunteers, whose service overseas was cut short.
This was the first time in the Peace Corps’ history in which all volunteers were called back from their service. In a letter to all volunteers on March 15th, 2020 the Peace Corps announced a temporary suspension of all Peace Corps operations globally, and that volunteers would be evacuated from all 61 operational countries back to the United States as quickly as possible.
The Peace Corps received $88,000,000 under the CARES Act to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. The Agency’s coronavirus response activities included but were not limited to:
The Peace Corps adapted to the global pandemic by creating new programs like the Virtual Service Pilot program to connect returned volunteers with host countries and deepen virtual engagement: