Study abroad programs for the spring 2021 semester will continue, according to an Education Abroad Office email sent to students Thursday.
In the spring, students will be allowed to study abroad as long as the country they’re traveling to is below a Level 4 Travel Advisory.
The travel advisory is a U.S. State Department designation that tells travelers how safe it is to visit a particular country. Level 4 means “do not travel,” Level 3 means “reconsider travel,” Level 2 means “exercise increased caution” and Level 1 means “exercise normal precautions.”
Students can check the status of their study abroad destination on the State Department’s website.
“Because of the wide-reaching and unpredictable effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, international travel can carry significant risk this upcoming spring,” the email said. “As a result, students must approach their education abroad experiences with significant thought, preparation, and flexibility.”
Students need to monitor what is happening in their study abroad countries, but the Study Abroad Office is also keeping tabs on the situation, according to Magdalena Grudzinski-Hall, the director of the Education Abroad Office.
“The student who is traveling to the country needs to understand what is happening, what the COVID rates are, what the health and safety rates are, access to, you know, medical facilities,” Grudzinski-Hall said.
If a student finds their study abroad country has been upgraded to a Level 4 Travel Advisory, Grudzinski-Hall said the student needs to “pivot pretty quickly.”
“They will have to come back to the Study Abroad Office. We will need to discuss what the plan B is. We will pull in the academic adviser and have that conversation and evaluate that process,” Grudzinski-Hall said.
At that point, the Study Abroad Office will try to find another spot for the student to go abroad, but it might also be time to consider staying on campus, according to Grudzinski-Hall.
Pre-departure orientation, which all students doing study abroad must complete, is being adjusted to include COVID-19 information, Grudzinski-Hall said.
The email said Thursday’s decision “pertains to spring semester programming only – a university decision about Spring Break programming has not yet been made.”
“We are very excited about the decision. But, of course, you know, with the global situation right now, it does come with a little bit of hesitation and worry," Grudzinski-Hall said. "But we’re excited.”