CIS Abroad Return to Travel Plan: September 2020 Update

Sep 15, 2020 4:46:02 PM

The Center for International Studies (CIS Abroad) is proactively preparing for the lifting of University, state, national and international travel restrictions. Maintaining duty of care responsibilities to our students, families, and institutional partners when travel restarts is of utmost importance. For this reason, we are developing protocol for future student travel impacted by COVID-19.

Students continue to contact CIS Abroad about opportunities for Fall 2020, January and Spring 2021 and beyond. In general, individual and program-related student travel planning typically starts 6-18 months prior to departure, underscoring the need for CIS Abroad’s early action on establishing a COVID-19 specific risk assessment framework.

To accomplish these goals, CIS Abroad has adapted and updated its current risk assessment framework to include a new COVID-19-specific protocol overseen by our Risk Management Team (RMT). As currently constituted, the RMT reviews all health and safety protocols, student incidents, and any travel to high-risk destinations. We follow the FORUM on Education Abroad, US Department of State, Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, Global Health Index, and US Overseas Security Advisory Council guidelines to identify and review destination risk.

CIS Abroad has chosen to allow students to participate in select international programming for January and Spring 2021 considering these Guidelines for Restarting International Programming. We believe narrowing our portfolio at this stage will ensure our ability to provide quality, consistent, and useful information to interested students before making financial or academic commitments.

The critical importance of mitigating three areas of risk for students, families and universities -  financial, academic and health & safety - is the foundation for the design and delivery of our programming. 

1. We are mitigating financial risk.

CIS Abroad has worked with international partners to create refund and withdrawal policies that limit the financial impact on students and families should COVID-19 change a student’s plan to travel.

  • 100% refund of total program costs 22 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program*
  • 80% refund of total program costs 21-15 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program
  • 50% refund of total program costs 14-8 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program
  • 20% refund of total program costs 7-1 days prior to the start (arrival) date of the program
  • Academic continuity is guaranteed, see below.

*Update 10.6.20: Excluding quarantine upon arrival costs in Japan, Thailand, and South Korea. See #3 below for more information.

To insure yourself from additional loss, such as the loss of airfare, or any other non-recoverable loss after your program begins, we recommend purchasing trip protection insurance, aka CFAR/IFAR insurance.

2. We are mitigating academic risk.

CIS Abroad has carefully selected programs where there is zero to minimal academic risk.

  • If a student cannot travel to the country due to host country COVID-19 restrictions, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e. live or recorded.*
  • If a student arrives in-country and must quarantine or miss classes due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e, live or recorded.
  • If a city or country goes on lockdown due to sickness, remote academics are guaranteed. These may be synchronous or asynchronous, i.e. live or recorded.

*Update 10.8.20. As of this date, we have officially opened our Czech Republic and Japan semester programs for Spring 2021.  These programs cannot offer academic continuity if students don't arrive on-site. So, we are unable to mitigate this risk. Please proceed with these programs only if that is acceptable to you.

3. We are mitigating health & safety risk.

CIS Abroad has developed a site-specific risk management plan for every location so that health and safety protocols are monitored, managed and communicated throughout the semester.

We have developed a COVID Care Package included in our program fee for all Spring 2021 programming to make traveling and living in a host country easier on students, especially those first few weeks on-site:

  • COVID compliant airport pick-up and transfer to housing.
  • 14-day Quarantine housing fees upon entry, if quarantine is required when entering the country
  • Information and assistance on meal delivery, if quarantine is required when entering the country
  • Welcome packet of masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies
  • Single rooms in host families (Costa Rica only), student residences, or apartments.*
  • Access to accommodation if isolation is necessary due to positive COVID test or exposure; this housing may incur additional charges.
  • Access to COVID testing; this testing may be an additional charge.
  • Medical and accident insurance that covers COVID-related illness.
  • La Vida Local cultural activities and reflection that emphasize safe, local exploration geared to the specific context of being abroad at this special time.

*except for our Asia-Pacific programs where COVID compliant doubles are included. 

Note: For our programs in Florence, Italy and Honolulu, Hawai’i, local officials have advised the necessity of a 2 week quarantine will be confirmed closer to departure. In the case a quarantine is not required, the cost of quarantine housing will be fully refunded in the amounts below:

  • Florence, Italy: $860 (for 2 weeks of a downtown apartment, meals not included)
  • Honolulu, Hawai'i: $1,500 (for 2 weeks of a hotel, meals not included)

For our programs in Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan; Bangkok, Thailand; and Seoul, South Korea, host governments have advised that a 2 week quarantine upon arrival will likely be required and will be confirmed closer to departure. CIS Abroad will have to pay for the quarantine in advance in order for students to begin the visa process. Thus the costs of the quarantine will likely not be refundable. 

  • Kyoto and Tokyo, Japan: $2,000 (for 2 weeks at a hotel in the Kansai area for Semester in Kyoto students, or the Tokyo area for Semester in Tokyo students, we expect that some, and possibly most meals will be included) 
  • Seoul, South Korea: $1,400 ( for 2 weeks of a hotel, 3 meals per day included)
  • Bangkok, Thailand: $1,900 (for 2 weeks at a 3+ star hotel with pool, 3 meals per day included)

We recognize not every student, family, or university will allow travel this Spring, despite the risk mitigation outlined above.  We are committed to providing our innovative virtual programs to meet your internationalization goals.

Most sincerely, and in partnership,

Kris Holloway & the CIS Abroad Risk Management Team