Coronavirus & UA Education Abroad: FAQS
Over the past year, 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 – scroll down to the section most pertinent to you or your student.
- General Information
- While Abroad
- Current & Future Study Abroad (Spring 2021 & After)
- Additional Links
- Can I study abroad as a UA student? The current UA travel policy (since March 2020) prohibits travel on UA-sponsored programs, but does not restrict the travel of individuals traveling on personal business or affiliate programs (i.e., travel that is not university sponsored but related to academic or business pursuits – e.g., travel through another institution or program). If an affiliate or third-party study abroad program provider is offering a program that interests you, it might be possible for you to go abroad if the program is still going.
- Has UA cancelled any study abroad programs due to COVID-19? Yes, all UA faculty-led programs are canceled through the Summer 2021 term. The status of future UA faculty-led programs (Fall 2021 and beyond) is still to be determined.
- 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.
- How does UA make decisions about its study abroad programs?
The UA System Health & Safety Task Force 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, they also consider local conditions, as well as input from peer institutions and our overseas partners.
- 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 current web page.
- 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 email@example.com.
- What should students expect when studying abroad during COVID-19?
Students should anticipate that their experience abroad may be different than they may have originally imagined. Keep in mind the following as you 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. We do not recommend that you make plans for travel outside of your host country.
- Quarantine: Your time abroad may include a 2-week quarantine prior to starting classes. Or it may include a time of quarantine if you or someone near you (student, faculty or staff member) are exposed to the coronavirus.
- Academic Experience: Many programs and universities are implementing a hybrid online/in-person format for the upcoming semester, similar to UA. Be familiar and comfortable with both formats. There may be sudden changes to the academic format of your program and additional rules or restrictions within the classroom.
- Social Experience: You also may have limited opportunities for in-person social interactions with others.
- Program Excursions and Activities: If your program typically offers excursions or other extra-curricular activities, these may be more limited than in previous years. Excursions may be altered or canceled while you’re on-site to adjust to current health and government recommendations.
- What precautions should I take to lessen the risks of contracting COVID-19 while abroad? The following advice about preventing the spread of COVID-19 is taken from the CDC’s guidance on How to Protect Yourself & Others web page. Go to that page for further details on the precautions listed below.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid close contact (with people).
- Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
- Monitor your health daily
- If the COVID-19 situation escalates in my study abroad location while I’m there, what should I do?
- Follow the protocols established by your study abroad program and the local authorities.
- Take appropriate precautions to minimize your risk of contracting COVID-19 or spreading it to others.
- If you need assistance with finding medical care or travel assistance to return to the U.S., please contact UA’s international travel assistance provider, International SOS by contacting them through the International SOS app (recommended if abroad) or calling +1 215-942-8478. Make sure to use UA’s International SOS membership number (11BCAM831609) when calling.
- If I need medical assistance while abroad (whether due to COVID-19 or another issue), what should I do? If it is an emergency, get to nearest medical provider as soon as possible. If it is less urgent, contact International SOS via the International SOS app (recommended if abroad) or by calling +1 215-942-8478 to speak with a medical professional or to get recommendations on which local medical provider in your study abroad location to use. Make sure to use UA’s International SOS membership number (11BCAM831609) when calling.
- Regarding academics, what will happen if my study abroad program is canceled at the last minute? Your options are dependent on the time that your program is cancelled (i.e. before UA’s semester start date, after UA drop-add etc.).
- If you are still registered in a full course load of UA classes, and your abroad program is cancelled, you may proceed with your “normal” UA semester. You will also work with the provider on any cancellation protocols that need to take place.
- If your study abroad program is cancelled, but you had already dropped your full course load of UA courses or it is after the UA’s “drop-add”, then you should contact the Education Abroad office as soon as possible to see if there could be any option of enrolling into UA.
- Regarding academics, what will happen if my program switches to an online-only format? If your study abroad program switches to an online-only format, you can either (1) proceed with the online option possibly being offered through your study abroad program or host institution abroad or (2) choose to withdraw from the study abroad program. Please note that you may be subject to withdrawal penalties, and depending on the withdrawal date, you may or may not be able to re-enroll into UA.
CURRENT & FUTURE STUDY ABROAD (SPRING 2021 & AFTER)
Current (Spring 2021)
- Do I need to get a negative COVID-19 test before returning to the U.S.? Yes, according to the latest CDC requirements (as of 4/15/2021) all air passengers coming to the U.S., including U.S. citizens, are required to have a negative COVID-19 test result (in the previous three days) or documentation of recovery (within the past three months) from COVID-19 before boarding a flight to the U.S., regardless if you have received the vaccination.
- To find COVID testing resources abroad, please check your study abroad country’s Ministry of Health page or the Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Resource Page. You may also consult your study abroad program provider for testing locations or call UA’s international travel assistance provider, International SOS (via the app or calling +1 215-942-8478).
- Do I have to quarantine after returning to the U.S.? The answer to this question depends on whether you have received an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine or not. Please see below for further details and requirements:
- If you are vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine:
- You do NOT need to self-quarantine after arriving in the United States.
- You should continue to follow CDC’s recommendations for traveling safely.
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
- If you are NOT vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine:
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel.
- Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.
- If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- If you don’t get tested after travel, you must stay home and self-quarantine for at least 10 days after travel.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
- Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.
- If you are vaccinated with an FDA-approved vaccine:
Future (May 2021 departure & after)
- Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine prior to studying abroad? If possible, it is strongly recommended that you get one of the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines prior to travel. Doing so could protect your health, as well as those around you, while also possibly mitigating some of the entry requirements and restrictions as you go abroad. Some countries (including the U.S.) are waiving the quarantine requirement if a traveler has a negative PCR test and proof of COVID-19 vaccination. Beginning June 15, the European Union will begin implementing the use of the Digital Green Certificate, which might ease travel restrictions for travelers who have received the vaccine. If you do receive a COVID-19 vaccine prior to departure, make sure to take multiple copies of the proof of your vaccination (both hard copies and digital copies) with you while abroad. Check the travel restrictions and entry requirements for your study abroad destination.
- Should UA students purchase trip cancellation insurance and/or refundable airfare? Should I purchase travel insurance and/or “Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)” or “Interrupt for Any Reason (IFAR)” insurance? The Education Abroad office recommends that students purchase fully refundable airline tickets and/or trip cancellation (e.g. “Cancel For Any Reason” or CFAR) and/or trip interruption insurance (e.g. “Interruption For Any Reason” or IFAR) to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancellation. UA assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties. A student can purchase any CFAR/IFAR policy available on the market, or chose this Crum & Foster CFAR/IFAR policy that is being offered to UA students: http://bit.ly/UA_CFAR
- What issues and questions should I be considering if hoping to study abroad in the near future? Please see the following lists of questions and issues to consider if planning to study abroad.
Provider (Affiliate, Non-Affiliate, Exchange, Direct Enroll Questions)
- Confirm your provider’s program is going – follow their protocols and instructions about steps to take in order to participate.
- What are the COVID-19 related policies for your program and institution where you’ll be studying?
- What is their refund policy and deadlines to withdrawal?
- Before the program
- During the program
- What are the academic and financial policies if the program has to go to online/remote learning ?
- When is the deadline the provider will make a decision about Spring programs?
- Is the country(s) where you’re going allowing U.S. citizens to enter?
- What are the quarantine or other COVID-19 related measures (PCR test etc.) you’ll need to take prior to or upon entry to the country?
- What are the steps to obtaining a visa? How is that affected by COVID-19?
- What steps will you need to take upon returning to the U.S. after your program?
- Is air travel to/from your program location easily accessible?
- What is your airline’s flight refund and/or flight change policies?
- What is your study abroad program’s onsite travel policy? Do they allow weekend travel outside your location?
- Should you purchase “Cancel For Any Reason” (CFAR) or “Interrupt For Any Reason” (IFAR) coverage? A student can purchase any CFAR/IFAR policy available on the market, or chose this Crum & Foster CFAR/IFAR policy that is being offered to UA students: http://bit.ly/UA_CFAR
4. What are the important dates to be aware of regarding Summer & Fall 2021 study abroad and CIP placeholder course registration? Be aware of the following important dates for Summer 2021 registration:
- April 15 – Summer 2021 bills available (from UA)
- April 30 – UA Scholarships Request Form for Study Abroad due
- May 3 – Last day to enroll in CIP placeholder course and use UA scholarship. If using a UA scholarship to help fund your study abroad program, then this is the last day you can register in the CIP placeholder course and still have your scholarship funds released to you.
- May 10 – Summer 2021 bill due (to UA)
- May 19 – UA Scholarship dispersal date for study abroad students
- May 28 – Last day of Drop/Add
- If not using a UA scholarship to study abroad, then this would be the last day to register in the CIP placeholder course.
Students planning to study abroad during Fall 2021 semester should be aware of these registration dates:
- Aug. 6 – UA Scholarships Request Form for Study Abroad due
- Aug. 9 – Last day to enroll in CIP placeholder course and use UA scholarship
- If using a UA scholarship to help fund your study abroad program, then this is the last day you can register in the CIP placeholder course and still have your scholarship funds released to you.
- Aug. 10 – Fall 2021 bill due (to UA)
- Aug. 11 – UA Scholarship dispersal date for study abroad students
- Aug. 25 – Last day of Drop/Add
- If not using a UA scholarship to study abroad, then this would be the last day to register in the CIP placeholder course.
- Oct. 27 – Last day to drop a course with a “W” grade
5. Will I have to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 when arriving in my study abroad destination? Possibly. Check with your destination’s Office of Foreign Affairs or Ministry of Health or the US Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Country Information or your study abroad program provider for details about entry requirements and restrictions for arriving travelers.
- Follow all entry requirements for your destination and provide any required or requested health information. If you do not follow your destination’s requirements, you may be denied entry and required to return to the U.S.
- If traveling by air, check if your airline requires any health information, testing, or other documents.
- Pre-travel testing: If you need a negative PCR test prior to travel, make sure to schedule a test that meets your study abroad destination’s entry requirements. If you will be in Tuscaloosa up to the time of your departure, then students needing a PCR COVID Test can obtain one through the Student Health Center. Call 205-348-2778 to make an appointment.
Each country and institution may have its own entry requirements and restrictions. Please consult your program provider or host institution regarding the latest requirements. You may also consult websites such as the following that include information about entry requirements around the world:
- Skift: A website that has a timeline and details of when/where things are opening up around the world.
6. Can I get a refund for my study abroad program costs if I decide not to go at the last minute? If a student is participating on a non-UA sponsored program (affiliate, non-affiliate, direct enroll etc.), then the possibility of a refund will depend on that program’s refund policy. Regarding UA faculty-led programs, all Summer 2021 study abroad programs have been canceled. Students can receive a refund. Some faculty-led programs may offer a virtual option, in which case money paid towards the faculty-led study abroad program may be able to be applied to the virtual program cost, if the student desires. If you have questions about the refund process for a UA faculty-led program, please contact UA Education Abroad at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer 2021 UA Faculty-Led Programs
- Will there be UA faculty-led programs going abroad during Summer 2021? As of February 3, UA has canceled all Summer 2021 faculty-led programs. Some faculty-led programs may offer a virtual option that will offer the same or similar courses.
- If UA faculty led programs do not go abroad in Summer 2021, will there be an option to complete similar courses online or on campus at UA? Some (but not all) UA faculty-led programs will be offering a back-up, online or on-campus option to take courses that may be offered through a UA faculty-led program. Contact the UA Education Abroad office at email@example.com if you have questions about this option.
ADDITIONAL LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- UA website with general information about the coronavirus (COVID-19): https://healthinfo.ua.edu/.
- UA System Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources: http://uasystem.edu/ua-system-coronavirus-information-and-resources/
- Other official sources to consult with helpful information include the CDC, WHO, and the International SOS web pages devoted to the coronavirus (COVID-19):
- WHO: https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus
- WHO FAQs: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- CDC guidelines for prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html
- U.S. Department of State’s Current Information for Travelers: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/ea/covid-19-information.html
- International SOS (UA’s Travel Assistance provider): https://pandemic.internationalsos.com/2019-ncov
- Other COVID-related links:
- Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Map : The latest statistics of COVID-19 cases provided by the Center for System Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
- Travel information & entry requirements/restrictions:
- CFAR/IFAR insurance coverage: http://bit.ly/UA_CFAR