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COVID-19 Information on Education Abroad

UPDATED: 5/27/2021

The world still awaits! As we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic together, Education Abroad is here to support students and remains steadfast in our mission of providing CU Boulder students with access to an extensive portfolio of high impact programs abroad to promote academic, personal, and professional growth in a safe environment. We are committed to providing students, their families, and our partners with information and transparency as we continue to navigate the challenges that the pandemic has posed on international travel. We are continuing to develop innovative ways in which CU Boulder students can have an international experience and become global leaders in a culturally diverse world. This page is updated regularly to provide information related to how Education Abroad is responding to the pandemic and what students can expect in preparing for an Education Abroad experience. Students should also monitor their CU Boulder email address for important updates and guidance.

Campus COVID-19 Info
Get all the latest updates on campus efforts regarding COVID-19

Decision Making

CU Boulder takes guidance from a number of resources including: governmental agencies (U.S. Department of State and Center for Disease Control), the World Health Organization, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), CU’s international security provider, professional health and security organizations, assessments by university partners abroad, U.S. Embassy country COVID-19 information, and more.

In making decisions about the impact of COVID-19 on Education Abroad programs, countries must meet the following criteria**:

  • Department of State Country-Specific Advisory Levels: 
    • Programs in countries with an Advisory Level 3 or 4 due to COVID-19 only (i.e., with no additional “Reconsider Travel” or “Do Not Travel” warnings due to other safety concerns)  
    • Programs in countries with an Advisory Level 3 or 4 for reasons beyond COVID-19 that previously received IRC approval 
  • Borders open to students
  • Visa available if required for entry
  • US Embassy is open
  • Insurers will cover travel to selected country

Education Abroad is also assessing COVID-19 standards on each program. This includes assessing areas such as:

  • Availability/accessibility of adequate health care
  • On-site support
  • Student accommodations
  • Contingency protocols
  • Program planning around food security, sanitation (e.g. cleaning of shared spaces) and access to PPE
  • Available support and resources during a possible quarantine
  • Basic services available (e.g. groceries, internet, transportation)
  • Social distancing practices within the academic setting
  • Impact on local community

Neither the list of country criteria nor program assessment areas is exhaustive. Education Abroad will utilize these metrics and guidance from the above-mentioned resources to make programing decisions. Education Abroad reserves the right to suspend any program as deemed necessary. The Education Abroad policy on the suspension of programs abroad can be found here.

**The COVID-19 Conditions Criteria was updated with CU campus approval on April 27, 2021 following a change in Department of State (DOS) Travel Advisory Levels to include countries where the DOS Travel Advisory Level 4 is for COVID-19 reasons only.    

 
In April 2021, the Department of State (DOS) changed their methodology for assigning Travel Advisory Levels to rely more heavily on the CDC’s epidemiolocal assessment. This resulted in a substantial number of countries being assigned a Travel Advisory Level 4 due to COVID-19-related reasons. In response to this change, Education Abroad - with CU Boulder approval – has amended its cancellation policy and updated the COVID-19 Conditions Criteria for the following reasons: 
 
  • The DOS states that this update “does not imply a reassessment of the current health situation in a given country”. The change in DOS Advisory Levels was a change in methodology rather than an indicator of a deterioration in on-site conditions.   
     
  • The DOS change grants greater weight to the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Health Notices (THNs). The CDC COVID-19 Travel Health Notices are primarily based on incidence rate, new case trajectory, and testing rate. The DOS change in effect duplicates the CDC Travel Notices, reducing its usefulness in assessing the nuances of a complex situation.  
     
  • EA, along with our partners, take a comprehensive approach to assess the nuances of the health, safety, and security protocols for various programs based on national, regional, and local risk assessment. This aligns with the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)’s recommendation that organizations “not necessarily view CDC THNs or Department of State Travel Advisories as a singular tripwire... Rather, OSAC encourages private sector organizations to incorporate the information in this system into their travel security protocols.” Our protocols have allowed Education Abroad and our partners to successfully run spring 2021 programs on-site and they allow us to comfortably move forward our plans to support students planning to study abroad this summer and fall 2021.   
     
  • While local vaccination rates are not currently a primary factor in the CDC THNs, the CDC has stated that traveling poses a “low risk” to those who have been vaccinated (International Travel During COVID-19). EA, our partners, and CU Boulder continue to strongly encourage summer 2021 students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as an effective way to protect against COVID-19.  EA and CU Boulder will require students to receive a COVID-19 for fall programs. This also provides assurance that students will be able to adhere to host country entry requirements and local ordinances during their program.
     
  • The DOS guidance and advice is geared toward the average American traveler and does not take into account the extensive pre-departure and on-site health and safety support that study abroad students receive.
Education Abroad will continue to only facilitate programs in countries that meet our COVID-19 Conditions Criteria, where testing and medical care is readily available and where we can mitigate risks while still ensuring students have a valuable experience. We continue to monitor the health and safety situation using a comprehensive approach and will continue to utilize DOS Advisory Levels as one of our considerations, but not as a requisite trigger for program suspension.  
 

Education Abroad has received campus approval for an exemption to the current CU Boulder suspension on domestic and international travel for spring, summer, and fall 2021 programming. This exemption allows Education Abroad to facilitate a highly curated and reduced list of programs each term based on an ongoing health and safety assessment of all available programs. Education Abroad will continue to work closely with the campus to evaluate future Education Abroad programs. 

 

Education Abroad is running a highly curated and reduced list of spring 2021 programs based on our ongoing health and safety assessment, the criteria we have developed above, and the expertise of our partners in international health and safety. In selecting programs, Education Abroad prioritized students' health and safety, adhered to CU Boulder campus COVID-19 standards, and assessed additional criteria unique to international travel and programming. Education Abroad continues to assess all programs that are continuing to be offered based on the above-mentioned criteria. 

 

Education Abroad is working with students to prepare for in-person and virtual Summer and Fall 2021 programs. While a small number of programs have been suspended due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of our programs continue to be offered. As with our Spring 2021 program offerings, Education Abroad will continue to assess all future programs based on our ongoing health and safety assessment, the criteria we have developed above, and the expertise of our partners in international health and safety. Education Abroad prioritized students' health and safety, adheres to CU Boulder campus COVID-19 standards, and assessed additional criteria unique to international travel and programming. 

 

Students going on Summer 2021 Global Seminars will receive program-specific information from their Program Manager about how to move forward, when to purchase airline tickets, and Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance coverage. Each program has a different timeline so students should stay in close communication with their Program Manager and watch for regular email updates.

 

Education Abroad is planning to offer the majority of our programs for Winter 2021, Spring 2022, and beyond. Education Abroad will continue to assess all programs based on our ongoing health and safety assessment, the criteria we have developed above, and the expertise of our partners in international health and safety. Education Abroad prioritized students' health and safety, adheres to CU Boulder campus COVID-19 standards, and assessed additional criteria unique to international travel and programming. 

Travel Preparations

The timeline for students to pay any program or housing deposits (including independent housing leases), visa fees, flights, etc. will differ based on the students program and host country. Students should review the information provided by their study abroad program and/or Education Abroad program manager regarding visa timelines and purchasing airfare. Many study abroad programs are recommending student wait to book flights until 30 days before the start the program. When booking flights, students should carefully review the airlines cancellation and change policies.

Per the CU Boulder Education Abroad Participant Contract, under no circumstances will CU Boulder Education Abroad be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred in preparing for the program, such as, but not limited to, advance purchase airfare, equipment, passport fees, visa fees, and medical expenses.

 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has information related to testing for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated persons traveling during the pandemic. Education Abroad advises all students to follow the CDC's recommendations regarding COVID-19 testing prior departure and recommends that students, especially those who are not fully vaccinated, limit their risk of exposure in the weeks leading up to their departure.

Additionally students' program, host country, and airline may require a negative COVID-19 test, regardless of vaccination status. Many countries have implemented additional entry requirements to reduce the risk of travelers entering the country with COVID-19. This often includes requiring travelers to provide a negative PCR test upon arrival to the host country. Education Abroad and students' program will provide further information related to entry and testing requirements to students via email prior to the program start date as this information is subject to change. The best places to find information on COVID-19 testing requirements in a specific country include: host country's Ministry of Health and government websites, U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Travel Health Notices, and the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories.

Consult your local public health website for a list of COVID-19 test sites near you. For testing in Boulder County, review the Boulder County COVID-19 Testing webpage. Pay attention to the type of test required by your host country, as applicable (most countries require a PRC test for entry). 

 

While Education Abroad remains optimistic that your program will run, many things could change between now and your program start including local conditions, entry requirements, etc. For these reasons, we recommend you consider purchasing Cancel / Interrupt for Any Reason (CFAR/IFAR) insurance for your program. While not a requirement, CFAR/IFAR policies can add extra insurance for these financial commitments and give you a little more flexibility in your personal decision timeline. One example of this policy is through Travel Insured.

Students participating on international Global Seminar programs will receive further information related to their program and trip cancellation insurance.

Student Experience

Education Abroad is committed to preparing students for a safe and successful program abroad, and it is especially important that students are aware of the additional logistics, policies, and risks related to studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students are required to complete a pre-departure COVID-19 orientation module. This online module provides specific information related students experience and expectation setting of studying abroad during the pandemic. Students will receive further information related to their orientation module, and other orientation components, in the months leading up to their program.

Additionally, Education Abroad required all students studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic to read and sign an Acknowledgement of COVID-19 Risk document. This document is included in student's MyCUAbroad portal after acceptance to their program.

 

Students should anticipate that their experience abroad could be different than they may have originally imagined. Students should keep in mind the following as they set expectations for a term abroad:

  • Independent Travel: independent travel outside of the city and/or country you are studying abroad in may be limited. Country borders may be closed, quarantine measures may remain in place, and there may be sudden changes to countries' entry and exit requirements. Do not make plans for travel outside of your host country.
  • Quarantine: your program abroad may include a quarantine of up to 2-weeks if required by your host country, or in the event that you or another student (or faculty/staff) are exposed to COVID-19.
  • Academic Experience: many programs and universities have implemented hybrid online/in-person course formats. Be familiar and comfortable with both formats. There may be sudden changes to the academic format of your program and additional rules/restrictions may be put in place within the classroom spaces.
  • Program Excursions and Activities: if your program typically offers excursions or activities, these may be more limited than in previous years. Excursions may be altered or canceled while you are on-site to adjust to current health and government recommendations.

Further information related to what students can expect during their program abroad can be found in the COVID-19 pre-departure orientation students are required to complete prior to departure. Students will receive information related to the orientation in the months leading up to their program.

 

Students should review all safety and security information provided by Education Abroad, their program provider and/or host institution. Program provider COVID-19 resources, including health and safety guidelines and protocols, term specific information, and more, can be found on the COVID-19 Information by Study Abroad Program Provider. Note that information and guidance may change and students should consult these resources often.

Education Abroad will also require students to complete an online COVID-19 pre-departure orientation. This orientation provides further COVID-19 information related to pre-departure preparations, while abroad, and returning home. Students will receive information related to the orientation in the months leading up to their program.

Health and Safety Matters

Education Abroad will require students to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before the start of their program beginning in the fall 2021 semester. This policy follows the decision by the University of Colorado to require students, faculty, and staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. For students participating on a summer 2021 program, the COVID-19 vaccine is strongly encouraged but not required. 

The CDC considers people to be fully vaccinated: 

  • 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
  • 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
For students pursuing an exemption to the vaccine requirement per CU’s guidelines, please note that this exemption may not be accommodated on their program. This would be the case in situations where host university, program, and/or country entry requirements vary from CU’s guidelines. Students will be required to abide by any vaccine requirements and associated exemptions that are imposed through their program. 

Education Abroad anticipates that as the vaccine becomes more widely available, many airlines, countries, and programs / universities will require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Students should review their program information carefully as information related to vaccine requirements may change between now and the start of students' program. The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas.

Students studying abroad this summer need to plan ahead, keeping in mind the dates of their program, start of the CU Boulder fall semester (and CU vaccination deadline of September 15th), and CDC timeframe for being fully vaccinated when determining their vaccination date(s). Students should not plan to be vaccinated (or receive their second dose) while abroad. 
 
The benefits of getting a vaccine extend beyond their established health benefits and may also include: 
  • Potentially no need to quarantine upon arrival to your host country 
  • Potentially expanded access to restaurants, museums and other venues within your host country 
  • Potentially increased ability to travel during and after your program 
  • More lenient guidelines from the CDC upon return from international travel 
  • You'll be vaccinated in plenty of time to start at CU Boulder upon your return to campus 
Students should make a digital and second physical copy of their vaccination card. Border agents may require persons entering a country to show proof of vaccination in lieu of other COVID-related entry requirements; consult your host country entry requirements for information specific to your destination.
 

This will depend on your program, currently location, and host country requirements. Isolate, continue to monitor your health, follow local country (state and county) COVID-19 protocols, and inform your program and Education Abroad.  

 

Historically, a program would be suspended immediately if the Department of State issued a Travel Advisory Level 4 in an effort to remove a student from a high-risk location. However, doing so during a COVID-19 outbreak would likely violate local and national restrictions on travel as most countries will issue lockdowns during an outbreak. Additionally, suspending a program would also result in a student losing their program housing, effectively denying students the opportunity to abide by local restrictions and public health best practices. This would also be in contradiction to CU Boulder's protocol for the fall 2020 mid-semester surge, in recommending students stay put and not travel to their home communities.

For these reasons, Education Abroad will continue offering programs in Spring, Summer, and Fall 2021 if the Department of State issues a Travel Advisory Level 3 or 4 due to COVID-19 mid-program. All other reasons (e.g. civil unrest, natural disasters, etc.) for a higher issuance of a Travel Advisory Level 3 (or 4) will remain cause for suspending programs immediately. Any country where a Travel Advisory Level 4 is issued prior to the start of the program will also result in an immediate program suspension.

 

The CDC currently requires all air passengers, including U.S. citizens and fully vaccinated people, arriving to the US from a foreign country to get tested for COVID-19 infection no more than 3 days before their flight departs and to provide proof of the negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 to the airline before boarding the flight. The CDC also recommends that all persons arriving to the US get tested 3-5 days after travel. Unvaccinated people are also recommended to stay home for a full 7 days even if they tested negative (10 days if they don't get tested) after travel. It is important to also follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.

If you have symptoms or are concerned that you were exposed to COVID-19, contact your medical provider.

Program Cancellation/Withdrawal

Should Education Abroad make the difficult decision to suspend any program prior to departure, students will have three options:

  1. Defer their participation to a future term
  2. Switch their application to another available that fits their academic and personal interests
  3. Withdraw their Ed Abroad application.

Education Abroad is committed to providing students with study abroad opportunities and will work with each student to find a program that promote academic, personal, and professional growth in a safe environment, whether it is for their initially intended term or a future term.

Education Abroad will refund recoverable costs paid directly to CU Boulder should a program be suspended. 

 

Education Abroad understands that personal tolerance for risk may vary, and that final decisions will be made between a student and their family. If a student chooses to withdraw from their Education Abroad program, the student will be subject to the terms of the applicable Education Abroad Withdrawal Policy as outlined on the program cost pages. Students are responsible for program fees after signing the participant contract in their MyCUAbroad account.

 

CU Boulder Education Abroad contacts students directly with updates, and also informs the student's designated emergency contacts when a decision is made to suspend a program should the student already be abroad. We ask students to share all updates with their emergency contacts. Education Abroad updates this website on a regular basis. All members of the CU Boulder community can also find updates at CU’s COVID-19 Updates & Resources.

 

Education Abroad will directly contact students with updates via email. Education Abroad reaches out to students’ designated emergency contacts only in very specific situations. All members of the CU Boulder community can find updates related to COVID-19 on this page, and on the CU’s COVID-19 Updates & Resources webpage.

Additional Information

Yes! Education Abroad offers virtual program options that provide a global curriculum and an opportunity to internationalize students experience. Students have the option of enrolling in these programs independently or in addition to a CU Boulder course load.

 

Education Abroad will directly contact students with updates via email. Education Abroad reaches out to students’ designated emergency contacts only in very specific situations. All members of the CU Boulder community can find updates related to COVID-19 on this page, and on the CU’s COVID-19 Updates & Resources webpage.

 

For questions related to a specific study abroad program or student, contact Education Abroad. For questions related to the campus response to COVID-19, please see the CU’s COVID-19 Updates & Resources webpage which includes a link to submit questions.