Coronavirus FAQs

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Coronavirus & UA Education Abroad: FAQS
updated 3/18/20

In recent weeks, news of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused concern worldwide. Our students’ health and safety while abroad is of paramount importance to The University of Alabama (UA). The following information includes answers to some FAQs about the virus and UA’s response. The information here can be shared with UA students, faculty, staff, and family members. Please note that there are different sections, please scroll down to the section most pertinent to you or your student.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

  1. How is The University of Alabama monitoring the COVID-19 situation worldwide?
    UA is continually monitoring the situation, including consulting sources such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, the World Health Organization (WHO), and International SOS, our international travel assistance provider. We are also in touch with our affiliate and exchange study abroad partners both domestically and abroad.
  2. How does UA make decisions about its study abroad programs?
    The UA System convenes a team and takes guidance from the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, the WHO, and International SOS (UA’s international travel assistance partner). When making decisions about specific programs, we also consider local conditions, as well as input from peer institutions and our overseas partners.
  3. Who will UA contact with updates?
    UA will directly contact students with updates that might specifically impact them. UA reaches out to students’ designated emergency contacts only in very specific situations, such as when a student has been incapacitated or when we cannot reach the student. All members of the UA community can find updates on this web page.
  4. Who can I contact about study abroad and the coronavirus situation?
    Please contact Chad Berry, Associate Director of International Health, Safety, and Risk Management at studyabroad@ua.edu.

STUDENTS CURRENTLY ABROAD

At this time (March 2020), UA students in areas affected by COVID-19 are studying abroad through UA exchange partners, UA direct enroll partners, affiliate programs or other (non-UA affiliate) programs.

  1. Do I have to come home if I’m in an affected area?
    While the UA System Interim Emergency Policy Statement from March 4 does not inhibit or restrict the travel of individuals traveling on personal business or affiliate, exchange, direct enroll, or non-UA affiliate study abroad programs (i.e., travel that is not university sponsored but related to academic or business pursuits – e.g., travel through another institution or program), the system strongly encourages our faculty, staff, and students to consider this policy when making decisions to continue on or schedule travel to any of the affected countries.In accordance with the March 15th Global Health Advisory: Level 3 (reconsider travel), the Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where few cases have been reported may restrict travel without notice.

    Following guidance from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State, it is highly recommended that students whose study abroad programs have been canceled or are offering an online option for course completion this semester return to the U.S. as soon as possible.

  2. What if I want to stay on my study abroad program?
    If your study abroad program has not been canceled and you choose to stay on affiliate, exchange, direct enroll or non-UA affiliate study abroad program, you may do so, but UA has notified you of the increased global advisory levels set by the CDC and U.S. State Department in the affected country. Understand that you have voluntarily chosen to stay on your program and, in so doing, voluntarily accept and assume all risks to your health and well-being that accompany your choice. In addition to the information that has already been provided about potential risks, you are strongly encouraged to do your own research about the potential risks to your health and well-being associated with remaining on your study abroad program. Links are provided below in the additional resources section of the FAQs.
  3. If I choose to come home or my program is cancelled, what will happen to the courses I was taking?
    Many of our affiliate, direct enroll and non-UA affiliate partners are preparing to offer online options so that students can complete their coursework and not fall behind academically if they return to the U.S. We ask that students accept the online, remote learning option if it is offered. Students should contact their program provider immediately to ask what this possibility could look like and what the process would be to make this switch.
  4. If I withdraw from my program or it is cancelled, what will happen with the scholarship money dispersed to me to pay for this program?
    The effect on the use of UA scholarships in this situation could vary from student-to-student. If a student’s current program refunds some or all of the program cost and a UA approved alternative program can be found, then the student may be able to use the previously dispersed funds to pay towards the new program. If no other program is found, then the student needs to contact the UA Scholarships office to discuss next steps. For specific answers, please complete the survey: Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey which will allow us to give you advice for your particular situation. We highly recommend that you take the online, remote-learning option if it is offered for your particular study abroad program in this situation.
  5. If I have to withdraw from my program or it is cancelled, what will happen to the federal financial aid money disbursed to me to pay for this program?
    The effect on the use of federal financial aid in this situation could vary from student-to-student. For specific answers, please complete the survey Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey which will allow us to give you advice for your particular situation. We highly recommend that you take the online, remote-learning option if it is offered for your particular study abroad program in this situation.
  6.  Will UA reimburse any of the extra expenses for travel (plane tickets etc.) caused by these circumstances?
    Reimbursement will be considered and reviewed on a case-by-case basis. You should keep records of any such expenses. If you believe a reimbursement is necessary, provide your information here:  Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey. 
  7. Will I have to self-quarantine or isolate upon return?
    The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) considers an individual being anywhere or a country with active community transmission within the previous 14 days, a risk factor for COVID-19. Upon your return to the United States, please know that public health departments have instituted limits on your public interactions for at least two weeks after arrival. For example, Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) guidance provides you should isolate yourself from others during the two week period, and you may not return to the UA campus or other places where groups congregate, such as church, concerts or public transportation, during that time. Many of you will likely return home for this 14-day period. Please consult your local health authorities with any questions. If you do become sick, please call the doctor’s office or emergency room to discuss your symptoms before you visit.
  8. Are there any course options for UA now (for Spring)?
    There are no longer either on-campus or online course options for the Spring 2020 semester (including Spring 2) at UA. However, on a case-by-case basis you may be able to enroll in independent or directed study for some of your needed coursework. We are asking study abroad students affected by a cancellation of their program to complete this Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey so that we can contact you about course information.
  9.  Do you have any information about changing flights due to a location being affected by COVID-19?
    Information for changing flights will vary by airline, but some airlines are letting passengers change flights free of charge if the flight involves a location impacted by COVID-19. We recommend contacting your airline and asking about this possibility and what the process for a free flight change would be. Also, travelers entering the U.S. who have been in Europe in the previous 14 days may have their flight plan re-routed to specific entry points in the U.S. See here for further details.
  10. Does UA have any recommendations for students traveling independently while on study abroad (to locations other than their study abroad site)?
    The university follows the advice of entities such as the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, and the WHO. Thus, we strongly recommend that students reconsider any personal international at this time due to COVID-19 and the potential travel disruptions that could occur in light of a rapidly evolving situation. Greater potential of exposure to the virus possible problems related to travel logistics, and other potential challenges upon return to the student’s original study abroad location should all be carefully considered. We encourage students to monitor developments through the State Department and CDC. Students who are traveling should, in addition to taking recommended measures to prevent illness, take precautions to prepare for potential travel disruptions:

      • Students should report independent travel with their study abroad program staff. The program staff’s ability to help in case of difficulty is increased by knowing students’ plans in advance.
      • Students should keep cell phones fully charged and operational and check their email multiple times a day for possible new guidance.
      • Students should travel with all key documents, including their passport and insurance documents.
      • Students should travel with a full supply of any regular medications, regardless of how long they plan to be away. Prescription medications should be packaged in their original containers.
      • Students may be subject to screenings or travel delays or cancellations.
      • Some countries and transportation providers could cancel departures or arrivals from Italy or those who originated in Italy.
      • Travelers also could be quarantined if they or someone in their proximity displays symptoms. Do not travel if you have a cold or other flu-like symptoms.
      • We encourage students to self-monitor for symptoms of illness such as fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath. These symptoms may not mean a person has the virus, but if someone experiences these symptoms, then they should contact a medical provider and let them know of their symptoms and any recent travel history. UA students can contact International SOS for travel assistance and information regarding medical providers in your area:

 


STUDENTS PLANNING TO GO ABROAD THIS SUMMER OR FALL

  1. What changes has UA made to International Travel Policy in light of the COVID-19 outbreak?
    Effective March 18, 2020, The University of Alabama has canceled all university-sponsored international travel until further notice. All Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 UA faculty-led programs are cancelled. Although this policy does not inhibit or restrict the travel of individuals traveling on personal business or affiliate, exchange, direct enroll, or non-UA affiliate study abroad programs (i.e., travel that is not university sponsored but related to academic or business pursuits – e.g., travel through another institution or program), the UA System strongly encourages our faculty, staff, and students to consider this policy when making decisions to continue on or schedule travel to any of the affected countries. According to the latest recommendations and measures announced by the U.S. and other countries around the world, UA students, faculty and staff should reconsider all international travel at this time.
  2. Are any UA faculty-led programs this summer canceled due to COVID-19?
    Yes. Due to the updated UAS policies released recently and the continued growth of COVID-19 worldwide, all university-sponsored international travel is cancelled until further notice. All Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 UA faculty-led programs are cancelled. Although this policy does not inhibit or restrict the travel of individuals traveling on personal business or affiliate, exchange, direct enroll, or non-UA affiliate study abroad programs (i.e., travel that is not university sponsored but related to academic or business pursuits – e.g., travel through another institution or program), the UA System strongly encourages our faculty, staff, and students to consider this policy when making decisions to continue on or schedule travel to any of the affected countries. According to the latest recommendations and measures announced by the U.S. and other countries around the world, UA students, faculty and staff should reconsider all international travel at this time.
  3. If UA cancels a study abroad program, will UA refund my program costs?
    UA will work with each student individually to refund their program costs. The Education Abroad office will contact each student who made a deposit toward a faculty led program with further information if UA cancels a program. The student does not have to complete the normal Study Abroad Withdrawal Form. We are asking study abroad students affected by a cancellation of their program to complete this Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey.
  4.  I was scheduled to go on a UA faculty led program and had already purchased my flight before UA cancelled the program. Will UA cover the non-refundable cost from my airline? Many airlines are offering free flight changes or refunds for tickets affected by the coronavirus travel warnings. We recommend contacting your airline regarding this possibility. UA will work with each individual student to try to accommodate non-refundable costs from the airlines. We are asking study abroad students affected by a cancellation of their program to complete this Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey.
  5. What will happen if a program is cancelled and I was depending on taking that UA course for credit abroad ?
    UA will work closely with our academic colleges with the goal of mitigating potential impacts on students’ academic progress. Depending on the program, we will work with students to consider alternative means to maintain academic progress, including registering for classes at UA this summer or fall semester. We are asking study abroad students affected by a cancellation of their program to complete this Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey so that we can contact you about course information.
  6. I was planning to use my scholarship but now my program is cancelled. What do I need to do?
    The Education Abroad office is notifying the Scholarship Office of those students who were affected by their program cancellation.Please complete the survey Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey which will allow us to give you advice for your particular situation.
  7. If my program was cancelled, what will happen to the federal financial aid money I was planning to use to help me pay for this program?
    The effect on the use of federal financial aid in this situation could vary from student-to-student. For specific answers, please complete the survey Study Abroad Students affected by COVID-19 survey which will allow us to give you advice for your particular situation.
  8. Who can I contact about updates and responses to the coronavirus situation?
    The most current information about the coronavirus and UA’s response can be found at: https://healthinfo.ua.edu/. UA students with questions about travel should contact the Office of Education Abroad at studyabroad@ua.edu.


STUDY ABROAD TO COUNTRIES NOT ON A CDC TRAVEL ADVISORY FOR COVID-19

  1. Are any programs abroad cancelled that are NOT in COVID-19 affected areas?
    All UA faculty-led study abroad programs for the Spring 2020 and Summer 2020 (including May Interim) are cancelled immediately. As of March 18th, a Global CDC Level 2 Travel Health Notice (ongoing community transmission) is in effect worldwide as well as the Global Level 3 Health Advisory (reconsider travel) from the Department of State.
  2. When do you expect a final decision to be made about the future of  UA faculty-led programs for Summer 2020?
    As of March 18, 2020, all UA faculty-led study abroad programs for Summer 2020, regardless of location, are cancelled.
  3. What if I am studying abroad on a non-UA faculty led program (i.e. exchange, affiliate, direct enroll, or non-UA affiliate) currently or this upcoming summer or fall?
    While the interim policy does not inhibit or restrict the travel of individuals traveling on non-UA faculty led programs(i.e. exchange, affiliate, direct enroll or non-UA affiliate), the UA System strongly encourages our faculty, staff, and students to consider this Updated Policy when making decisions to continue on or schedule travel to any of the impacted countries. Given the above factors and in accordance with the latest recommendations and measures announced by the U.S. and other countries around the world, UA students, faculty and staff should reconsider all international travel at this time
  4. Does the UA international insurance policy cover cancelation of programs or withdrawal from a program for any reason?
    No, typically the insurance policy will only cover a trip cancelation if a student is deemed medically unable to participate within 30 days of the program start date. Thus, costs paid in advance of the program would probably not be recoverable under the UA international insurance policy if a student decided not to go because of COVID-19. We HIGHLY recommend that students consider purchasing a separate “Cancel For Any Reason” (CAFR) travel insurance policy that could mitigate some of the costs if a student decides not to study abroad or a program is canceled and some costs are not refunded.

  1. UA website with general information about the coronavirus (COVID-19): https://healthinfo.ua.edu/.
  2. UA System Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources: http://uasystem.edu/ua-system-coronavirus-information-and-resources/
  3. Other official sources to consult with helpful information include the CDC, WHO, and the International SOS web pages devoted to the coronavirus (COVID-19):