Updates for Students Abroad

Returning Home

Friday, March 13

Hello, all –

The US State Department has issued a global Level 3 Travel Advisory and the CDC has issued a Level 3 warning for all of Europe. With these joint recommendations, the continued spread of COVID-19 across the globe, and the ever-increasing impositions of restrictions and travel bans, IWU is requiring all student currently studying abroad to return home. Once you have made your arrangements, please share them with me.

We know that academic credit is a major concern. Most of our affiliated partners are making arrangements for students to continue coursework online, where possible, and IWU will accept that credit. Please talk with your on-site staff to see what those universities are offering or whether the program has an alternative way for you to complete the university courses. We will do all we can to ensure you receive as much credit for the academic work you have done as we can.

Take care and travel safely.
Stacey


 

COVID-19 - IWU update

Tuesday, Mar 10, 5:28 PM 

Dear students –

Many of you have reached out with questions about your study abroad programs and academic credit. While we are trying to respond individually, a group message also makes sense.  As with earlier messages, please share this with your families.

News of the COVID-19 outbreak continues to increase, and much changes daily.   We continuously assess the information and make our decisions based on an assessment of realistic risks to our students, but as we do so we want to be careful not to deny our students valuable educational opportunities out of fear. 

US Department of State Advisories for the locations where our students are based continue to remain low (Level 1 and Level 2).   We are keeping an eye open for sudden, large spikes in reported cases of the virus and are closely following advice from sources such as the US Department of State, the CDC, and others.   At this time, we believe that the risk to students on our affiliate partner program remains low and that the programs afford our students a rich learning experience.   As such, we are not planning to suspend spring study abroad or to recall students from their programs.    However, if circumstances change and the CDC or the US Department of State were to elevate their risk assessment for a location, we may choose to encourage students to return home or require such a departure, but would do so on a location-by-location basis.

With this possibility in mind , many of you have understandable questions about travel plans and your coursework.   Should you choose or be required to return home early, our affiliated program partners will provide what support they can, but you will be responsible for the cost of travel arrangements.   Our partners are also exploring ways in which they might be able to continue instruction remotely. If it is possible for you to complete your coursework online or remotely with the program, IWU will accept the credit.

Everyone’s tolerance for uncertainty and risk differs, and it is important for you and   your families to determine what you are comfortable with.  As noted above, IWU continues to believe the risk to students on our partner programs in Europe remains low and that our students are better served by staying in place right now.   We do understand, however, that others may, for a variety of reasons, come to a different conclusion. 

As before, we remind all travelers to take the  WHO-recommended steps to minimize potential exposure  to this—and to any—virus:

  • Wash hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Maintain social distance; remain at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene, which includes covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and disposing of the used tissue immediately.
  • Seek medical care early if you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

IWU will continue to carefully monitor the situation and we assure you that student safety is our priority.   Please reach out to your onsite staff and the IWU International Office if you have questions or concerns.  

Sincerely,

Mark Brodl, Provost and Dean of the Faculty
Stacey Shimizu, Director of the International Office.

 


 

Coronavirus Update for International Travel

Mon, Mar 2, 2020 at 5:20 PM  – To Students Studying Abroad

Dear students—

This message is to update you on IWU’s approach to the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly as it may affect students currently abroad or scheduled to travel abroad in the next few months.  Please share this information with your families.

Attached, you will find  IWU’s policy regarding International Travel. University policy prohibits studying abroad in regions under a Level 3 or Level 4 Advisory; for students already on site when a Level 3-4 advisory is announced, the University reserves the right to require students, faculty, and staff to depart the location. 

The US Department of State recently raised the Travel Advisory for Italy to a Level 3: Reconsider Travel, and issued a Level 4 Advisory: Do Not Travel for the Veneto and Lombardy regions of Italy.   IWU is now requiring that students currently in Veneto/Lombardy return home and strongly encourages those studying in other regions of Italy  to consider returning home. Planned May Term travel to Italy is suspended: we are exploring ways to modify the proposed course, and a final decision on the program will be made soon.   Students studying in other parts of Europe are prohibited from engaging in personal travel to Italy for the remainder of the semester.

IWU will continue to monitor the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  As noted in our previous message, while there are concerns about exposure to the virus, the greater risk to students when they travel currently stems from  business closures, transportation shutdowns, and measures that local authorities might take to ensure containment (particularly possible travel restrictions and border controls that could strand travelers with little or no notice).

As before, we remind  all travelers to take the  WHO-recommended steps to minimize potential exposure  to this—and to any—virus:

  • Wash hands frequently  with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Maintain social distance; remain at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene, which includes covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and disposing of the used tissue immediately.
  • Seek medical care early if you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Please also review the following steps that you can take to ensure your   personal health and security before traveling and while abroad:

  • Visit the  US Department of State website  for current Travel Advisories and to review the country-specific information for your destination(s).
  • Register with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Ensure that you have downloaded and activated the AlertTraveler app. Details on this can be found in your  abroad.iwu.edu  account.
  • Keep abreast of current local and world events, both before your departure and while abroad.
  • Follow any advice or guidelines given to you by program staff.

IWU will continue to carefully monitor the situation and we assure you that student safety is our priority.   Please reach out to your faculty leaders or the International Office if you have questions or concerns.  

Sincerely,

Mark Brodl, Provost and Dean of the Faculty


 

Coronavirus Update for International Travel

Fri, Feb 28, 2020 at 3:21 PM – To Students Studying Abroad

Dear students—

As you are aware, a novel coronavirus (now called COVID-19) emerged in Wuhan, China, earlier this year.  Since then, the virus has spread, mainly in parts of Asia, but there has been a recent increase in confirmed cases elsewhere, particularly in Italy and areas in the Middle East.

This message is to update you on IWU’s approach to the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly as it may affect students currently abroad or scheduled to travel abroad in the next few months. Please share this information with your families.

At this time, it is hard to gauge the effects of COVID-19 on study abroad, but for now IWU is making no changes to our current or scheduled programs.  All our current and planned programs are to locations with either a Level 1 (exercise normal precautions) or Level 2 (exercise increased caution) advisory from the US State Department, with no advice to US citizens to reconsider travel or not to travel.  We understand that some families are concerned, but at the present IWU would discourage current abroad students from traveling back to the US, whether briefly or for the remainder of the semester, as doing so may well result in the loss of academic credit.

IWU will continue to monitor world news; review reports from the US Department of State, CDC, and WHO; and consider risk assessments from legal counsel and the University’s insurance.  We know our affiliated program providers are doing the same, and we are tracking changes they make to their programs. 

In the meantime, though, IWU asks all students in Europe and North Africa to carefully consider any personal travel plans.  While there are concerns about exposure to the virus, the greater risk to students when they travel currently stems from business closures, transportation shutdowns, and measures that local authorities might take to ensure containment (particularly possible travel restrictions and border controls that could strand travelers with little or no notice).

In addition, all current students abroad should take the WHO-recommended steps to minimize potential exposure to this—and to any—virus:

  • Wash hands frequently with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Maintain social distance; remain at least 1 meter (3 feet) away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene, which includes covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze and disposing of the used tissue immediately.
  • Seek medical care early if you have fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

We also remind students of the many ways in which they can help ensure their personal health and security before traveling and while abroad: 

  • Visit the US Department of State website for current Travel Advisories and to review the country-specific information for your destination(s).
  • Keep abreast of current local and world events, both before your departure and while abroad.
  • Carefully review all pre-departure information provided to you through the Study Abroad Pre-Departure Moodle and any materials shared by your program provider.  
  • Follow any advice or guidelines given to you by program staff.
  • Register with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Ensure that you have downloaded and activated the AlertTraveler app. Details on this can be found in your abroad.iwu.edu account.
  • Carry the emergency phone numbers for your program with you at all times.  Those numbers are generally provided to you upon arrival.
  • Carry a charged, functioning mobile phone at all times and supply the number to onsite staff.
  • Respond promptly to all emails, calls, or SMS messages from IWU and your program staff.
  • Inform onsite staff and your family of your travel plans during breaks and weekends, and register side trips in STEP.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, particularly when in public places and on public transportation.  Avoid large crowds or crowded places, particularly those frequented by tourists.  
  • Use good judgment: take responsibility for protecting your health and safety while abroad and exercise responsible behavior around alcohol. 

IWU will continue to carefully monitor the situation and we assure you that student safety is our priority.  Please reach out to your faculty leaders or the International Office if you have questions or concerns.  

Sincerely,
Mark Brodl, Provost and Dean of the Faculty