**Updated March 14, 2020**
The health and safety of our students is our top priority. That’s why, due to the escalation of travel restrictions and potential for border closures in response to the U.S. Department of State Level 3 warning, we have made the difficult decision to close all USAC programs worldwide effective immediately. This means we have begun the process of bringing home all spring/yearlong students immediately. All impacted students, families, and universities have received further instructions in an email sent earlier today. We continue to post updates on our website: USAC Coronavirus Updates
For students who had to unexpectedly return from study abroad, please read the following resources on reverse culture shock and transitioning home.
**If you would like to receive additional resources from USAC regarding reverse culture shock and updates about USAC programs and the coronavirus you can sign up here. This email will only be used for corona virus-related materials.**
Over the last several weeks, USAC, like many of our colleagues, have been closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation.
As the global spread and impact of the virus changes daily, USAC continuously monitors and evaluates the safety of our students and staff, as well as our ability to run successful and impactful study abroad programs. This has led us to make unfortunate decisions to cancel programs due to overseas host university closures, CDC levels, and several other factors associated with COVID-19.
As we make any changes to present or future programs we will post updates on our website: USAC Coronavirus Updates
We know these are unprecedented and uncertain times, and many questions surround this situation. We are in close communication with our affected students, staff and partner universities daily.
Here are some of the most common questions we’ve received:
How is USAC monitoring COVID-19?
USAC’s Crisis Management Team, comprised of health and safety managers and senior leadership, manage these types of situations. This team continues to monitor COVID-19 and communicate with local and national health authorities, as well as impacted students, parents/emergency contacts, and home universities directly. Our Crisis Management Team bases decisions on multiple criteria including, but not limited to:
- Advisory Levels and Advice (CDC, U.S. State Department, WHO)
- Host university closures or campus access restrictions
- Travel restrictions (airline, train, quarantines)
- Limited local resources, e.g., business closures/restricted hours
- University policies and decisions (U.S. and overseas)
- Technology resources / limitations for academic continuity
- International higher education resources (Pulse, Forum, NAFSA, OSAC)
What Does Trump’s Latest Travel Ban Mean for Students?
On March 11, the Trump Administration released a statement that created confusion regarding re-entry into the U.S. from Europe. Following is a clarification that was sent afterward from Homeland Security.
The bottom line, travel to/from the U.S. is still permitted for U.S. citizens and U.S. passport holding students, but there are some restrictions for non-U.S. students.
More details from the Homeland Security message can be found below:
“Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.”
If this travel ban changes and students are directly affected, we will notify students and parents/emergency contacts.
What Happens if My University Cancels Study Abroad in a Location that USAC Is Still Running a Program?
Individual U.S. institutions that we collaborate with are currently making their own administrative decisions on how they’re handling their students abroad. USAC will honor those decisions; however, we cannot guarantee online courses or other forms of academic or financial recompense if the USAC program is still fully operational onsite. Due to the complexity of this situation, decisions are made on a program by program basis.
If you are wondering whether you can stay abroad despite your university restricting study abroad and/or travel, you will need to talk to your home university about any academic and financial implications of staying abroad.
If a situation changes at a program location, we will contact impacted students, parents and universities directly.
What Steps Does USAC Take If They Decide to Cancel a Program?
Cancelling a program is not a decision that we take lightly.
If we decide to cancel a program, USAC will contact students, parents, and universities who are impacted. Our U.S. team and our on-site staff will work with students to ensure their safe return to the U.S. Additional support regarding future academics and financial support will be communicated as it becomes available.
What Happens if My Program is Cancelled?
If you are currently abroad and your program is cancelled, USAC will work with you to provide details on the cancellation. These are handled on a case-by-case basis, and when possible, USAC will make efforts to provide options to help students stay on track academically and maintain their financial aid eligibility. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to provide online coursework in all cases or for all courses. We cannot provide online courses for students who withdraw from programs on their own accord or at the directive of their home university while the USAC program remains operational overseas.
Some U.S. home universities are offering online courses upon a student’s return to the U.S. Should your program be cancelled, we advise students work closely with their home universities and USAC to understand all of their options.
No matter how long you’ve studied abroad, you will most likely feel the effects of reverse culture shock upon your return. For students who have had to return home early, we recommend you read our resources on returning home from study abroad to help ease the transition.
Are you Currently Accepting Applications for Future Programs?
Yes! We are currently accepting applications for Summer 2020 and Fall 2020, excluding China summer session 1 which has been cancelled. For updates on futures programs, keep an eye on our website. https://usac.edu/coronavirus-updates
The health and safety of our students is always our top priority, and we will continue to make adjustments to program openings as needed.
USAC is extending the $500 confirmation deposit refund until the balance due deadline for any Summer or Fall 2020 program in an effort to allow you to monitor the situation without fear of losing your confirmation deposit. The $100 application fee remains non-refundable unless USAC cancels the program. You can access the balance due deadline on the USAC website under individual program pages.
USAC’s Crisis Management Team meets continuously and is in constant contact with our on-site staff and related personnel. Our teams are well trained and experienced in handling health-related concerns and have a wide network of resources including Cultural Insurance Services International (CISI), local medical facilities, and other on-site support
As we have communicated from the beginning, we continue to monitor the situation at all of our program sites and rely on trusted sources of information which include U.S. State Department, WHO, CDC, on-site staff and health authorities, among others.
For nearly 40 years, USAC has a long history of working closely together as a family and we continue to do so in this unprecedented situation. We are confident we will successfully navigate these times by working together and staying true to who we are as an organization.
We appreciate your patience and if you have any questions feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.