September 30, 2022
We continue to monitor developments related to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been tracking the entry requirements and restrictions of our host countries. Over the last few months, we have been pleased to see a majority of our program destinations ease their requirements for entry, and their restrictions on the ground, including the need for proof of vaccination to participate in everyday activities.
With this in mind, ISA by WorldStrides will continue to encourage all students to be up to date with their vaccinations against COVID-19 prior to their program, but we will no longer require vaccination to participate, except for programs in countries that still require proof of vaccination to enter. We will continue to advise participants on the COVID-19 rules in their program destination.
The lifting of our vaccination requirement will take effect immediately. All participants who will be studying with us in the coming months will be notified. By lifting our vaccine requirement, we hope to remove a hurdle to studying abroad for many of our participants. That being said, we acknowledge that precautions must still be taken to mitigate the risk associated with COVID-19. In addition to encouraging vaccination, we will continue strongly encourage participants to test for COVID-19 prior to joining their program and will continue to emphasize healthy practices once participants are abroad.
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
HEALTH & SAFETY
Will ISA require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to travel?
As of March 1, all ISA/TEAN students are required to be up to date on their COVID-19 vaccination prior to their program start date. This means, all participants must receive their booster dose if eligible. Where host countries have specific booster dose requirements, this will be communicated to participants. All accepted and pending students have been notified of this update and given instructions on how to submit proof of vaccination.
Will ISA still operate programs to destinations categorized as a Level 4 due to COVID-19 by the U.S. Department of State?
ISA is aware of and has been tracking closely adjustments in the State Department's Travel Advisories and, at this time, does not anticipate making any alterations to current or future ISA programming as a result.
ISA monitors messaging from both the CDC and Department of State, however those are just two of the many sources from which we gather information when making decisions about our programming. Other sources of information include, but are not limited to: WHO, ECDC, OSAC, WorldStrides' medical advisors, security providers, ISA's global offices and partners, foreign governments, and many open-source outlets.
ISA has implemented new mitigation measures at every level of our programs to respond to COVID-19, and we have been successfully running programs since January of 2021. ISA will continue to review any new guidance from the Department of State and is closely monitoring developments in this fast-changing environment.
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 program locations, we have local staff and trusted partners who provide additional information for consideration by our Health & Safety Team. We are frequently evaluating every aspect of our programs in this environment, including adjustments that allow 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 at programs in 2022 and beyond?
As the COVID-19 pandemic has evolved, ISA and TEAN have followed developments and collaborated with our medical advisors to adjust our approach, as needed. Generally, 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.
Additionally, we examine 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 tracked as we determine where and when we can resume travel. These factors are reevaluated at regular intervals before and during the program.
Is ISA restricting certain types of Internship and Service-Learning placements?
Yes. ISA students will not be placed at healthcare-related organizations at least through Fall 2022. This decision was made as we prioritize the health and safety of both our participants and local populations. Placements impacted may include: health clinics, hospitals, pharmacies, cancer support centers, and senior citizen homes.
Health-related organizations not treating COVID-19 patients or serving populations vulnerable to COVID-19 will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. While ISA can never guarantee placement within any specific organization, we are asking for even greater flexibility from our participants during this time. Please reach out to the ISA Internships or ISA Service-Learning teams with questions.
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 our 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 limitations on 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.). Additionally, students will have to wear face masks when participating in any ISA-sponsored activity. 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 in the lead up to a program, 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?
Wherever possible, students will be placed in single rooms where they can isolate should they become sick with COVID-19 while abroad. Should a student need to isolate away from their assigned housing, 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?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and other health authorities, you can keep yourself and others healthy by following these recommendations:
• Comply with special instructions issued by local officials.
• Adhere to known, effective practices to minimize your chance of catching respiratory infections.
• Wear a face mask when around others outside of your home.
• Practice social distancing.
• 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 into the crook of your elbow.
• 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.
• Speak-up if you are experiencing any symptoms and get tested.
How do I choose a program that’s more likely to run?
By Summer 2022, ISA students will have returned to nearly all traditional program locations. Interested students should review the ISA program pages on our website to confirm program details and/or contact their Program Manager for more information.
Have any application deadlines or program dates changed?
We are coordinating with our global partners to confirm program dates and extend deadlines where possible. Dates and deadlines vary by program and are listed on the program pages of the ISA website. In some cases, students should plan to have some flexibility with program dates and deadlines as they are subject to changes made by ISA and/or our host institutions. Interested students should check the program information on our website. Applicants can confirm dates and deadlines in the ISA Student Portal and will receive email notifications regarding any date/deadline confirmations or changes.
Will a student visa be necessary for travel?
ISA is tracking entry requirements for all of our program locations. Additionally, students may be required to obtain a visa and/or travel with documents proving they are studying or interning abroad. Required documentation and visa advising will be provided by ISA, but it is ultimately the students’ responsibility to meet entry requirements while traveling. The ISA Program Manager will communicate specific entry requirements via email and during the pre-departure orientation.
When should I purchase an airline ticket?
ISA strongly recommends waiting until after the Forms and Payment Deadline before purchasing airfare. This was our guidance even pre-COVID-19.
Students will be notified once more information is available in their ISA Portal about how to purchase their flight. ISA recommends purchasing direct flights into the host country and avoiding layovers in third countries when possible. Students should consider purchasing trip insurance and/or refundable tickets in case their arrival is delayed. Airfare is not included in the ISA program fee, so in the event of a program cancellation or trip interruption, students will need to work directly with their airline on any possible refund. ISA is not able to issue any refunds for airfare changes or cancellations.
Will excursions and cultural activities still run as planned?
ISA has resumed most day and overnight excursions in our program locations. Cultural activities within the host city are still taking place with additional health and safety considerations. Some excursions may need to be rescheduled during the semester depending on local restrictions. It is also possible that adjustments may need to be made to the excursions offered. When this happens, ISA will attempt to offer a similar excursion or activity in lieu of the original excursion or activity. All students are asked to remain flexible during these times. If it is necessary to cancel an excursion, students will be notified and provided a discount off of their program price. Students who attend a U.S. university with a direct bill agreement with ISA should communicate with their home university directly regarding payments and discounts.
Does ISA plan to offer all Summer and Fall 2022 programs as scheduled?
ISA continues to monitor worldwide developments of COVID-19 and our Health & Safety team is regularly assessing factors for international travel. Factors include local COVID-19 transmission rates, in-country infrastructure, national and local restrictions, host university contingency plans, and campus closures.
At this time, ISA does not anticipate making changes to Summer and Fall 2022 program offerings.
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.