ISA is in regular communication with our host university partners abroad as we assess Spring 2021 programs and, at this time, these programs are continuing as scheduled. Some factors we are tracking in our evaluations are the status of travel restrictions abroad, country entry requirements, and the current levels of COVID-19 transmission in program locations.
We will continue to monitor the fast-moving developments related to COVID-19 and provide significant updates to students, their parents, and our U.S. partner institutions as we look forward to hosting students in the near future.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
HEALTH & SAFETY
How is ISA making decisions about when and where to support study or experiential learning programs abroad in the near future?
Our Health & Safety team has been actively monitoring the impact that COVID-19 is having on the countries and communities where we operate programs. In all of our Spring program locations, we have local staff and trusted partners who provide additional information for consideration by our Health & Safety Team. Our “Back-to-Travel” task force is meeting regularly to evaluate changes that might be necessary and prudent for every aspect of our programs in this environment, including adjustments that allow for us to continue to deliver culturally-rich programs with an added focus on hygiene and social distancing. Location-specific guidance paired with more general recommendations for travel, socializing, living, and education environments in the new world is helping us define guidelines that we can follow to help make our future programs as safe as possible.
What are some of the factors ISA is considering when looking to Spring 2021 programs?
In assessing where we will operate in the short-term, there are two different types of factors we’re considering. First, we are closely monitoring larger scale factors such as COVID-19 outbreaks; local, state and country reopening plans; entry restrictions; flight availability; and governmental warning levels. To do this, we are constantly reviewing data from sources such as the WHO, CDC, ECDC, DOS, OSAC, WorldStrides' security providers, WorldStrides' global offices and partners, foreign governments, and open source outlets such as Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, to name a few.
Additionally, we are looking at program-specific matters that could impact the student experience abroad. These considerations, such as arrival and orientation, student housing, and academic contingency plans are critical to a successful program and among the factors being examined as we determine where and when we can resume travel. These factors will be reevaluated at regular intervals before and during the program.
Will students be required to wear face masks or follow other protocols while abroad?
We all have a shared responsibility to one another and must do own part to mitigate COVID-19 risks while abroad. For this reason, ISA participants are required to follow all COVID-19 specific rules (e.g., use of face masks, observation of social distancing measures and gatherings) established by local, state and federal governments, and any rules established by attractions, sites, and service providers (e.g., host universities, housing, airlines, hotels, restaurants, etc.). We encourage students to research their destination prior to travel and understand local guidelines. Prior to arrival, ISA will also advise students with more specific information about their host city and expectations related to COVID-19.
Will students need to quarantine once arriving to their program location?
Potentially. While this could depend on a number of factors, ISA will follow the protocols of the student’s host country and evaluate any additional measures necessary to provide for the health and safety of ISA students, resident staff, host families, and any others that students may come into contact with upon arrival. These regulations can change quickly and your ISA Program Manager will be in contact with you to set expectations for arrival in your new country.
What if a student needs to self-isolate while they are abroad?
Should a student need to self-isolate, ISA will facilitate housing for that student to utilize. ISA resident staff will continue to be available to advise and support the student to the extent possible. This would include advocating on behalf of the student with their host university and coordinating meals and medical care, if necessary. ISA’s health insurance includes coverage for mental health and students would have the option to speak with a counselor at any point during their program.
What can I do to stay healthy?
To keep yourself and others safe and healthy:
- Comply with special instructions issued by local officials, including social distancing and wearing a mask when in public.
- Adhere to known, effective best practices to minimize your chance of catching respiratory infections:
- Do not touch any part of your face without first washing your hands.
- Avoid contact with persons who are already ill.
- Avoid unnecessary touching of other persons (e.g. shaking hands in greeting) and limit touching publicly-shared surfaces, where possible.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Carry hand sanitizer (60-95% alcohol) and use it for situations where hand washing might not be possible.
- When you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth with a tissue or in your elbow.
How do I choose a Spring program that’s more likely to run?
We have Spring programs that begin as early as late December 2020 and some as late as late March or early April 2021. Students with flexibility should consider programs with later start dates, which also will have later application deadlines. We will also be coordinating with our global partners to extend our deadlines, where possible.
Have any Spring application due dates changed?
We have already extended some of our program deadlines to provide students greater flexibility. Students should check their program information on our website or in the ISA portal for more details, and can also reach out to their Program Manager with any questions.
Will a student visa be necessary for travel?
A student visa may be required for your program depending on host country protocol. ISA is tracking entry requirements for all of our program locations and your ISA Program Manager will communicate with you any specific requirements.
What is the latest date I can withdraw from my program and not be charged?
Students may withdraw up to the Forms and Payment deadline for their program (found in their Student Portal) without incurring additional costs. Review the ISA Cancellation Policy for more details.
Can I defer my Spring 2021 program to another term without any additional cost?
Yes! A student who wishes to study abroad for a future term can defer and transfer their application deposit to the new term up until the ISA Forms and Payment due date. If you prefer to defer to a different program or semester, that is also possible. Please let your Program Manager know your preference once you decide. If you need help finding another program, our team can help you!
Are there opportunities for virtual or remote courses or internships during Spring 2021?
Yes, ISA has a few different options to choose from! For students interested in professional experience, receive up to 6 credit hours through our Global Remote Internships. ISA is also continuing to offer our Remote Learning program, with different course options available, choosing from 1-5 courses, which includes our virtual discovery model! This is a great option for students who need to take global credit from the comfort of their own home either full or part-time.
What should I do about purchasing an airline ticket for a Spring 2021 program?
ISA recommends waiting until after the Forms and Payment due date before purchasing any airfare. In addition, ISA recommends purchasing trip insurance and/or refundable tickets in the event of a cancellation. Please review this information from the airline or flight provider carefully and reach out to them with any questions. Airfare is not included in the ISA program fee, so in the event of a program cancellation, the student will need to work with the airline or provider directly on any possible refund. ISA is not able to issue any refunds for airfare changes or cancellations. We recommend reaching out directly to your Program Manager if you have any specific questions.
Does ISA plan to offer all Spring 2021 programs as scheduled?
While most of our Spring 2021 are open and scheduled to run as planned, we have canceled the following locations for Spring 2021:
Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Morocco, Peru and South Africa
Cities (but not all locations in listed country):
Bilbao, Spain and Medellín, Colombia
ISA will continue to make decisions for Spring programs with the health and safety of our students at the forefront.
What is the refund policy for any programs that are cancelled after they’ve already started?
ISA will look at all recoverable costs and will issue a refund of any costs we can recover. If ISA cancels or suspends a program after the start date, there is no guaranteed refund. ISA makes plans and must commit funding for any upfront costs for all types of programs abroad. Where possible, ISA will work closely with our partners abroad to recover any costs such as tuition and fees, housing, excursions, insurance, etc. If your home university suspends travel while you are abroad, the ISA cancellation policy does apply.
What is the refund policy for ISA if a student chooses to withdraw from a program?
Any student who decides to withdraw from a program that is not cancelled should review the ISA cancellation policy.
To give students more time to make a final decision, we have extended due dates for Spring and Winter programs, where possible. Students can find the their deadlines in their ISA Student Portal or can contact their Program Manager for any updates. In addition, if dates are later extended the Program Manager will be in contact with the students.
Will ISA help cover any flight-related costs if a program is cancelled?
While ISA programs have many inclusions in the program price, airfare is not included in our costs. We recommend all students confirm through their airline, or other applicable agency, to see what insurance coverage or change policies apply in the case travel plans are interrupted due to this pandemic. Even if you purchased through a third-party site, we always recommend calling the airline directly to confirm their policies and see if they can provide any additional flexibility.
Will the cost of obtaining a visa be refundable if I'm unable to travel?
No, if you are unable to attend the program for any reason, the costs associated with obtaining your visa (including transportation, visa fees, and other related expenses) are not included in the ISA program fee and are not eligible for reimbursement.
If my program is cancelled before my program start date, will I receive a refund?
Students will have the option to consider an alternate program, a future program, or a refund of your ISA program fees paid. Review the full ISA cancellation policy for further details.
Which programs have been cancelled?
ISA made the difficult decision to cancel all Fall in-person programs. Intensive Month programs with November and December start dates are currently still available, and we will be making a decision on these programs as soon as possible.
Does ISA have any other opportunities for students to earn credit this Fall?
We do! ISA has a few different options that may be a good fit for students. For students interested in professional experience, receive up to 6 credit hours through our Global Remote Internships. In addition, ISA is offering our new Remote Learning program, with different course options available, choosing from 1-5 courses, and our virtual discovery model included!
How long does it take for transcripts to be sent to home universities? Will there be any delays?
Transcripts from the host universities are usually received by ISA within 2-3 months of the program’s completion. However, some transcripts may be further delayed due to COVID-19. Students are encouraged to review our transcript process and visit our status of transcripts page for more information. If you have concerns about your transcript, please contact our team at AcademicRecords@studiesabroad.com for further assistance.