Education Abroad and Covid-19
While Education Abroad programming is a critical part of the Drexel student experience, the return to international travel must also be pursued with Drexel’s priority of the safety and security of students and shared responsibility to public health in all communities. Working in the international arena requires great flexibility, and therefore we continue to move forward with plans for Education Abroad activities for the 2020-21 academic year where feasible.
As we examine carefully options and locations for the resumption of student travel abroad, Drexel International Health, Safety and Security is using a wide variety of resources to complete a thorough assessment of programming with attention to the following key considerations:
- Country-Level Risk
- COVID-19 Medical Risk
- Preparations of Partner/Provider Organizations
- Preparations for Faculty/Staff-Led Programming
- Response and Contingency Planning
- Essential Education for Student Travelers in a COVID-19 World
These assessments may mean that options for some countries will be available before others, and some types of activities may start sooner than others. All decisions about programming will adhere to Drexel University policies for Travel and will be guided by Drexel’s commitment to well-supported, safe programming for students. Decisions regarding upcoming programs will be communicated to students as soon as possible. Education Abroad programming will not be offered in the Winter 2021 term.
Listed below are Frequently Asked Questions to address student concerns regarding Covid-19 and outbound international programming:
1. What changes has Drexel made to its international programming in light of the coronavirus?
Due to the continuing growth in cases of COVID-19 worldwide and concerns about the viability of international travel and its impact on public health, Drexel has cancelled winter term international travel. This includes international co-op placements, all study abroad programs for the spring term, all student organization international travel and faculty and staff international travel. Faculty and staff international travel is also cancelled until further notice.
2. When will international travel resume?
While the University is eager to resume the rich opportunities that Education Abroad provides to the academic experience for students, the return to international travel must also be pursued with Drexel’s priority of the safety and security of students, shared responsibility to public health in all communities and in adherence with University policies for Travel.
3. What happens if Drexel decides to suspend a location abroad for international activities for students?
If Drexel makes the decision to suspend international activities in a location, the Office of Global Engagement will provide assistance to travelers managing their departures and will work with students to complete academic requirements for the program. This may include online coursework, independent studies or other options as proposed by the partner institution abroad.
4. My study abroad program has been cancelled, can I transfer my acceptance to another term? What about refunds?
While acceptance is not automatically transferable, the Office of Global Engagement will be in touch with students regarding future study abroad options including the possibility of transferring some or all of their application. Refunds in accordance with the OGE Refund Policy for Drexel-sponsored study abroad programs will be processed as appropriate.
5. I am an international student. Am I allowed to go home even though Drexel has an international travel ban in place?
Drexel understands and supports international students that make the decision to return home at this time. Students should check in with their academic advisor and International Students and Scholars Services prior to departure if possible. Drexel sincerely hopes that this global pandemic will be contained in the coming months and travel restrictions removed, but we must acknowledge that the situation remains uncertain. There is a possibility that international students may face challenges in returning to Philadelphia due to travel restrictions. Drexel has already had discussions about how we would address this challenge should it present itself in September, and we will continue to communicate with all members of our international student community as information becomes available. For more information, visit the Drexel Response to Coronavirus website.
6. With the international travel ban in place at Drexel, is international co-op being allowed?
The only students that will be permitted to do international co-op will be students that are returning to their home country to complete their co-op through a special approval process. Any international student that is interested in completing a co-op in their home country should reach out to their co-op advisor for more information on the required steps to complete an international co-op for the upcoming cycle. For more information visit Steinbright COVID-19 Response.
7. If a student elects to leave a Drexel-affiliated program that has not been suspended by the University, how might that affect a student's academic credit for the program?
Drexel understands that everyone has a different tolerance for risk. If a student decides to discontinue a program due to personal concerns about their safety, the Office of Global Engagement will assist the student with departure and will work with the appropriate units to help the student to complete academic requirements for the term if that is possible.
8. How is Drexel monitoring the coronavirus outbreak?
A team of University officials including members of the University Travel Risk Review committee and Drexel's Senior Director for International Health, Safety and Security is actively monitoring the outbreak of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, worldwide and in particular locations where members of the Drexel community frequently travel. This team uses several sources including the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of State, On Call International, a network of safety and security specialists and open source news to assess the spread of the coronavirus and its potential impact on Drexel travelers. Emergency updates are regularly posted indicating areas of concern being monitored by the University.
9. How do I know if a place where I traveled has a high infection rate for Coronavirus?
The Centers for Disease Control provides advisory levels for countries about current health issues that impact travelers' health. Any country with a current Level 3 Advisory, Avoid Nonessential Travel is considered high risk and returned travelers should self-isolate and practice social distancing upon their return.
10. What should I do if I recently returned from a location with a high infection rate for the Coronavirus?
In an effort to contain the growth of Coronavirus, the US Centers for Disease Control and the Philadelphia Department of Public Health are recommending proactive measures for all returnees from abroad and affected areas in the United States. Here is guidance to follow from Drexel Student Health:
What should I do upon arriving to the United States?
If you do not have any respiratory symptoms or fever, we recommend practicing social distancing and self-monitoring of your health
Social distancing means remaining out of:
- Public places where close contact with others may occur (such as shopping centers, movie theaters, stadiums).
- Workplaces (unless the person works in an office space that allows distancing from others).
- Schools and other classroom settings.
- Local public transportation (such as on a bus, subway, taxi, ride share, plane, ship).
These restrictions are to be in effect for 14 full days from the time you were potentially exposed (ie- from the time you entered the US).
If you feel sick with a fever, cough or have difficulty breathing witin 14 days after you left, you should:
- Seek medical advice - Call ahead before you go to a doctor's office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
- Avoid contact with others.
- Not travel on public transportation while sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue on your sleeve (not your hands) while coughing or sneezing.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
- Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
- If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
For more information on University Travel policies, please visit the COVID-19 Essential Travel Guidance Website.