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COVID-19 Information on Education Abroad

UPDATED: 1/20/2021

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.

How does CU Boulder make decisions about its Education Abroad programs? 
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 Level 3 or lower 
  • 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, and the program's COVID-19 measures must meet or exceed CU's COVID-19 policy. This includes assessing areas such as:  
  • 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. 
How does the campus' travel ban impact Education Abroad?  
Education Abroad received campus approval for an exemption to the current CU Boulder suspension on domestic and international travel for  the spring 2021 semester. This exemption allows Education Abroad to facilitate a highly curated and reduced list of spring 2021 programs 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. 
Is Education Abroad running Spring 2021 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. 
What decisions has Education Abroad made for Summer and Fall 2021 programs?   
Education Abroad invites students to apply to 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, adhered to CU Boulder campus COVID-19 standards, and assessed additional criteria unique to international travel and programming. Use our program search and the "Summer/Fall 2021 available programs" filter (under "Additional Search Options") to see which programs are available in 2021. We will continue to update that search, relevant program pages, and contact impacted students should any program changes be necessary due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
I am interested in a faculty-led Global Seminar program for Summer 2021, is there specific information I should pay attention to?   
Students interested in a faculty-led Global Seminar programs should review thGlobal Seminar - Summer 2021 Important Dates & Deadlines page for further information related specifically to Global Seminar programs for summer 2021. Global Seminar program decisions and financial timelines may differ from other Education Abroad programs. It is important that students interested in or planning to participate on a Global Seminar program, review both general and Global Seminar specific information related to Education Abroad programs.
What should I expect when studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic?  
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 2-week quarantine 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.
Where can I find further information related to COVID-19 for my 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 page. 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.
I was accepted for a Summer or Fall 2021 Education Abroad program. When do I need to sign my participant contract to commit to the program?
Students are asked to sign their participant contract within two weeks of being accepted to their program. Students on Global Seminar programs are asked to sign their contract within one week of being accepted. Education Abroad understands that there is additional uncertainty for upcoming terms due to the pandemic and students may be hesitant to commit to their program. If students are hesitant to make this commitment, they should discuss any concerns with their Education Abroad program manager. There may be additional flexibility based on the program for students to sign their participant contract to commit to the program. 
Can I move forward with booking flights and making other travel plans for my Education Abroad program?  
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. 
What would happen if the Department of State Travel Advisory increased to a Level 4 while I was 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 Summer and Fall 2021 if the Department of State issues a Travel Advisory Level 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 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. 
Should I purchase trip cancellation insurance? 
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
Should I stay enrolled in my current health insurance policy while I am abroad?  
Education Abroad recommends that you maintain Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance at all times (even during your time out of the country). You should contact your insurance provider with any questions about your specific policy. See the Education Abroad Handbook for more information. 
Are there Education Abroad programs I can do from home? 
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.  
What are my options if my program has been suspended or if I decide not to participate in the program for which I was accepted?     
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, 
  1. Switch their application to another available that fits their academic and personal interests, 
  1. 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. 
What would happen if I withdraw from a future Education Abroad program out of concern for COVID-19? 
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 pagesStudents are responsible for program fees after signing the participant contract in their MyCUAbroad account
How can I discuss my study abroad plans with Education Abroad?  
Education Abroad is continuing to operate remotely. We are eager to connect with youContact our office through email, live chat, and remote advising (Monday-Friday, from 9:00-4:30). 
Who will Education Abroad contact with updates?  
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. 
How will I receive updates related to Education Abroad programs?  
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. 
Who can I contact with further questions related to Education Abroad and COVID-19?
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.