Study Abroad & COVID-19
As countries around the world begin to re-open and once again welcome international students, we’ve buckled down and re-evaluated what study abroad should like in a world with COVID. Vanessa Sterling, CET’s Senior Manager of Healthy & Safety, worked alongside the program managers to thoughtfully develop a plan for specific on-site changes to protect the safety of students, faculty, and staff abroad. These changes are published within CET’s Post-COVID Playbook, a detailed instruction manual that each CET program site implements in our classrooms and student housing, communication policies, and even during out-of-class activities.
Post-COVID Playbook in Action
We developed the Post-COVID Playbook to ensure the safety and comfort of American students navigating the world abroad. Here are a few of the specifics that apply to every program:
CET Centers & CLassrooms
- If needed, reorient the common area to ensure all chairs are at least 1.8 meters apart from each other.
- If that is not possible, turn desks so that staff members are not facing each other.
- Staff with individual offices should plan to work with doors closed as often as possible.
- When able/feasible, windows should be open.
- Each desk should have a hand sanitizer bottle.
- Each person should have a hand soap container and paper towels (if not available in the restroom.) This should be labeled with their name and not shared.
- Keyboards should not be shared. If unavoidable, they should be wiped down after use.
- If there is a reception area, tape a perimeter on the floor 1.8 meters (6 feet) from the reception desk chair.
- Post bilingual signs on the reception desk informing people to practice social distancing.
- Place a hand sanitizer bottle on the desk for common use.
- If there is a land line/office phone, that should be wiped down after each user.
Note: The following protocols apply to CET-controlled classrooms only. For classrooms on host university campuses, CET abides by local regulations and precautions which may be different from what you see below.
- Move chairs and desks to allow for 1.8 meters space between students.
- Move podium to allow for 1.8 meters space between students and the instructor.
- Create and post a diagram in the room showing proper seating placement.
- Discuss this with each instructor.
- Ask instructors to include mention of this proper seating placement with each class.
- Open windows if the climate allows.
- Each room will be supplied with hand sanitizer bottles, sanitizing wipes (or a spray bottle and paper towels), proper seating placement diagram, and a garbage can.
- Each instructor will be supplied with their own chalk/white-board marker set and eraser.
- Rooms will be professionally cleaned weekly using professional-grade cleaning products.
- After each class, the instructor should wipe down the surface of the lecturn (if used), chair, computer keyboard (if used), and the board.
- Before leaving each class, each student should wipe down their chair and desktop.
- Classrooms located on the campus of a host institution will abide by their cleaning protocols.
We will be providing single bedrooms (rather than double occupancy rooms) where available. If single bedrooms are not available on a program, we will redesign room layouts accordingly:
- Measure to see if each bed’s headboard can be 6 feet/1.8 meters apart. Consider reversing the head/foot orientation or rearranging/removing furniture.
- Post a diagram in each room indicating the proper furniture set-up to allow for adequate spacing.
- Mention this diagram in Orientation. Remind students if they move the furniture it is at their own risk.
- If adequate spacing is not possible, the room should house only one student until further notice
- Living room spaces should have seating that can be spaced by 1.8 meters.
- Kitchen table (if applicable) should have moveable chairs (i.e. not bench seating).
- Each living area should have a prominently placed, labeled storage place for an initial supply of hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, and a thermometer. (i.e. a large plastic bin)
- Windows should be operational and having working locks.
- Bathrooms should be stocked with an initial supply of liquid soap and antibacterial hand wipes.
- Before students arrive, each room and/or area is cleaned professionally by a contractor or building staff member who has been trained for infection control cleaning.
- During Fall or Spring Break, each room and/or area should again be cleaned professionally. Students should be alerted to this before they depart for break.
- If a student reports being ill with COVID-like symptoms, his/her/their apartment (OUTSIDE of the student’s room) should be cleaned professionally.
Out-of-class & independent experiences
We are re-evaluating all field-based components in the same way we’ve thought through the on-campus experience. Any components that cannot be run safely under Post-Covid Playbook guidelines will be replaced as necessary.
- When making reservations, on-site staff will request a copy of any COVID-related protocol the vendor has for evaluation.
- If no formal protocol exists, staff will refer to the housing and classroom sections of this playbook to develop questions to ask each vendor.
- If a vendor has no adequate plans for infection risk mitigation, on-site staff will consider another vendor and/or discuss with the Program Manager.
- Before departure, on-site staff will research the current PPE/infection mitigation strategies on public transport, in ride shares, and taxis in the excursion destination. If these are different from your program site, share the information with students in writing.
- Encourage social distancing on coaches/private buses.
- If using a coach for the day, encourage students to sit in the same seats throughout.
- Bring extra hand sanitizing wipes to distribute to students, if needed, to clean seats.
- In addition to protocols for housing, ask hotel staff about recommendations for use of common areas, including dining facilities, hallways, recreational facilities, and lobby lounges.
- Recommend that students remove any comforter/heavy blankets from bedding (as these are not cleaned frequently.)
- Communicate these requests to students via WhatsApp/WeChat/Line and keep a screen capture of that message.
- For homestays, share Housing guidelines with providers/families before arrival. If they are unable to accommodate CET requests, inform students of what will be different while staying in home stays and recommend alternatives, if available.
Before we even begin matching students with suitable internships, on-site staff will have meetings with each potential host organization. In addition to covering the types of tasks and projects students might do, these meetings will also cover their in-office policies for station setups, cleaning schedules, and work-from-home policies.
Assessing Internship Placement Sites
- If possible, on-site staff will request an in-person tour of the site. If not possible, a call will be arranged with the internship supervisor to request information on the workplace’s infection control plan, special procedures, etc.
- Discuss with the supervisor what the student will be expected to do towards transmission control, if anything (i.e. wear a mask in the office, use disposable coffee cups, clean workstation before leaving, etc.)
- If the site has made no specific modifications to adapt to possible COVID transmission, discuss with your Program Manager if it is appropriate for placement at the current time.
- For potential new sites, have a call with the internship supervisor to request information on the workplace’s infection control plan, special procedures, etc. before the site is formally added to our internship site list.
- Discuss with the supervisor if the student would be able to work from home if necessary and what that might look like, be limited to, etc.
- When making placements, consider the health profile of the student, especially if the student has indicated that he/she/they have a significant pre-existing medical condition on their Health and Wellness form in TDS.
We reserve the right to restrict certain locations/countries as deemed necessary. These restrictions will fluctuate throughout the term under the guidance of local authorities, border closings, and infection rates. Students will still be able to travel independently, but can expect a slightly more hands-on approach in terms of communicating plans with on-site staff.
COVID-Related Country Changes
Check this section to see what COVID-related changes are in effect at each country. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Student Services Coordinator.
- Brazil re-opened air borders to foreigners on July 29th.
- Masks are mandatory in public places.
- Social distancing of 1.5m (5 ft) is standard
- The government in São Paulo State implemented an action plan for gradually opening economic activities, called Plano São Paulo. As of June 1, the state defines five restrictive levels of reopening. These five levels follow medical and epidemiological criteria in order to ensure that the health system remains fully functioning. The plan includes five phases ranging from the maximum level of restriction of non-essential activities (Red) to stages identified as control (Orange), flexibility (Yellow), partial opening (Green) and normal controlled (Blue).São Paulo is currently in Yellow.
- As infection rates vary greatly around the country, independent travel may be curtailed to certain high-risk locations.
- The CET Brazil Traveling Seminar will be reduced to five days.
- Any activities that take place in more crowded environments (e.g. visiting the local samba school) will be replaced with other that can abide by the Post-COVID Playbook.
- The local government of Cali has imposed a curfew on weekends, and the selling and consumption of alcohol in public places is prohibited.
- Restaurants are reopening gradually, especially those with outdoor seating.
- Social distancing of 1.5m (5 ft) is standard.
- Masks are mandatory in public places.
- The Colombian national health authority handles all COVID-19 responses. CET can assist students with this if there is a suspected or confirmed case.
- CET staff will administer daily temperature checks on all students when they enter the CET Center.
- The CET Colombia Traveling Seminar will be reduced from seven to four days and will take place mostly in Cartagena.
There are no updates at this time.
- Due to the shortened duration of the program, there will be no spring break.
- The CET at FAMU programs will not offer the Berlin excursion in spring 2021. Instead, students will participate in film-related activities in and around Prague.
- Students should expect to have classes on Fridays.
- There will be no local Czech roommates in Spring 2021.
- [Fall 2020] Chinese universities are operating with a “closed-campus” model, meaning there are restrictions on who can enter and exit. It is unclear at this time if this will continue into the spring semester.
- Social distancing of 1m (3.1 ft) is standard.
- Students can expect temperature checks upon entering many public facilities (e.g., shopping malls, subway stations, etc.).
- The Chinese Ministry of Health coordinates care for those who test positive for COVID-19. CET staff will be able to support students, but under the guidelines of the ministry.
- Students may be required to keep a health logging app active on their cell phones.
- Chinese universities are not allowing for single occupancy in dorm rooms. All dormitory furniture will be arranged to allow for social distancing.
- Students can expect temperature checks upon entering the CET Center.
- Initially, Italians lived under very strict quarantine after the March 9 lockdown. Restrictions started to ease mid-May and by the middle of June, Italians could travel freely within Italy and the EU.
- Schools are expected to reopen in September.
- Masks are required in public spaces and on public transportation.
- CET Centers will maintain social distancing standards of 1.8m (6 ft).
- Students can expect temperature checks upon entering the CET Center
- Although Japanese officials have not put mask mandates in place, it is socially expected that each person wears one during illness outbreaks, including COVID-19.
- As of August 2020, confirmed COVID patients have been requiredto isolate at govenerment quarantine facilities (often a hotel). It is unclear if this rule will extend to non-Japanese patients.
- CET Japan’s host university, Osaka Gakuin University (OGU), has implemented temperature checks at all campus entry points.
- There are no updates at this time.
- [Spring 2021] CET Jordan will cancel spring break and instead offer a couple three-day weekends.
- Rather than roommates, students will have ‘Izweh (Jordanian buddies). Together they will have in-person or virtual activities throughout the term.
- Vietnam’s COVID response is completely coordinated by the Ministry of Health. Their rapid and thorough plan has been praised globally for its effectiveness.
- As of Fall 2020, most in-public social distancing requirements have been greatly eased.
- The CET Vietnam program house will maintain US standards for social distancing and advanced cleaning protocols.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few questions and answers to help you understand how CET programs will operate differently after COVID-19.
Because the pandemic affected countries to varying degrees, re-opening looks different for each of our program locations. The Post-COVID Playbook is a step-by-step instruction manual of operations for on-site staff at all of our program locations. Its contents are designed to be applicable to all sites while still providing flexibility to accommodate local regulations and recommendations. Some of the topics covered include socially distant seating arrangements for classrooms and other shared spaces, communication policies, outbreak management, etc.
We hosted a webinar on the Post-COVID Playbook in early July, you can view a recording of the webinar for more information here. Please note that some of the information may be outdated due to the rapidly changing circumstances of the pandemic. Please refer to the information on this page for the most up-to-date details.
If a student exhibits relevant symptoms, they follow the set protocol to return home and call TeleMD (the telemedicine services included with GeoBlue insurance). If they are advised to seek in-person medical attention, a staff member will accompany them to the clinic and communicates with the CET team and students as necessary.
If a student requires isolation, any roommates/apartment mates are informed to meet staff at the CET Center until the student is safely in quarantined in their room with their computer, textbooks, course materials, phone, thermometer, food, and medications. A staff member will deliver anything else required to the student’s door. Once cleared from isolation, the student’s room is professionally cleaned.
All program locations are equipped with the capability to run classes virtually in the event of an instructor falling ill. Any off-site, experiential components slate for this period will be rescheduled for a later date.
At this point in time, it’s too early to say whether or not a quarantine period will be necessary for Spring 2021 students. Students and applicants can expect active and early communication for any decisions made regarding COVID-19.
Each program site’s medical facilities and COVID-handling capabilities will be evaluated in order to determine whether or not a program will run.
Assessing healthcare facilities covered by geoblue insurance
- Staff will contact each of the GeoBlue in-network facilities (including TeleMed services) to learn their arrangements for treating suspected cases of COVID. If this represents a different way of working with the facility than normal, (i.e. using a different entry, limiting the number of visitors, etc.) staff will make a note.
- If the facility has an intensive care unit (ICU), staff will request information on its capacity and how usage is determined.
- Starting in Fall 2020, CET will make recommendations to students on health care based on these metrics and our other previous experiences with each facility.
- If staff feel that none of the current GeoBlue-accepting facilities are suitable for a COVID patient, the situation will be discussed with the Program Manager.
Local testing protocol
- Staff will gather and record the locally recommended protocols of symptoms, exposure protocols, contact-tracing protocols, and when to seek emergency care for your site.
- This information will be emailed to all students when they arrive on site (as well as what to do if a student feels sick) and mention it in Orientation.
- If there are changes to local regulations and/or recommendations, staff will update students (and roommates, where applicable) via email as soon as possible.