Update #2 on Study-Abroad and Exchange Programs in the Schengen Treaty Area of Europe

As a follow up to the message yesterday we are writing today with some further guidance about the suspension of study-abroad programs in the Schengen Area. We hope that you have begun to make your flight changes for a prompt return to the United States and are sharing these emails with anyone you feel is appropriate.

Departure and Travel Guidance

  • Please depart your location and return to the US no later than March 20th. You must complete the Google Form found here to update UMass about your travel details. 
    • You must be logged in to your UMass Google account to access the form.
    • Complete this form even if you have already emailed us this information.
    • Complete this form even if you have already returned home.
    • Non-UMass students: email your travel details to coronavirus-ipo@umass.edu.
  • Please inform your study abroad-program local staff about suspension of our UMass program. We have already communicated with them but make sure to seek their guidance about any departure requirements.
  • Check in with your study-abroad program local staff about any formalities needed to vacate housing or complete your coursework remotely or online.

We have prepared the following FAQs to provide some general guidance about questions about you may have. We hope that many of your initial questions will be answered here.

  • Must I leave by March 20?
    Yes.  UMass has suspended all study-abroad activities in the Schengen Area with a view to ensuring your health and safety.  UMass will not allow any exceptions or dispensations to this requirement.  Remaining beyond Friday, March 20 could have adverse implications on your ability to maintain continuous enrollment at UMass for Spring Semester 2020, as well as insurance coverage and financial aid eligibility.

     
  • Must I return home or can I return to UMass?  Will UMass provide accommodation for the rest of the Spring Semester?
    UMass is directing you to return to your permanent home address as most programs have made some provision at this point for online or remote completion of courses. If you will require housing accommodations on campus for any reason (e.g., you are a returning international student), please complete this form so we can try to assist you.  If you do require accommodation, it will only be available after the 14 day self-quarantine period.

     
  • What if my program or university is continuing to operate or giving me the option to stay?
    Regardless of the decision of your local program provider or exchange university, UMass has decided to suspend all study-abroad activity in the Schengen Area and require a return to the United States. 

     
  • Will I be subject to screening or quarantines?  What airports can I fly into?
    This is a fluid situation and we recommend that you regularly monitor the Centers for Disease Control’s Travel Advisory for Europe.
    1. The CDC recommends a self-quarantine of 14 days for travelers returning from the Schengen Area.  Please practice self-quarantine and social distancing. Please seek immediate medical assistance close to home if you experience any symptoms upon your return.
    2. UMass Amherst requires a self-quarantine of 14 days for all travelers returning from CDC Warning Level 3 countries. Follow the instructions here.
    3. The CDC does not recommend traveling if you are sick.  If you are showing symptoms of cold, cough, or other flu-like symptoms, please speak with your local program staff about seeking immediate medical advice.
    4. Please check the CDC advisory linked above regularly, which has good tips for ensuring your safety during travel, as well as maintaining your good health and that of others.
    5. Information about airports with enhanced screenings where flights from Schengen will be allowed is coming out slowly.  The Department of Homeland Security is providing guidance to airlines before the public; please see these websites for more information:

      Delta Airlines Information

      American Airlines Information

  • Will I be able to return to my study abroad program later in the Spring Semester?
    UMass is monitoring the health and safety situation in all study abroad destinations.  If the situation changes and data enables UMass to make a different decision in a few weeks time, we will inform you in a timely fashion.

     
  • Will I get help with my flight change costs?
    Some airlines are waiving costs associated with flight changes on account of the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) outbreak.  Please check the policies of your airline as you rebook your flights.  We will reimburse up to $500 for any changes or new tickets between Europe and the United States.  To comply with Massachusetts state accounting regulations, original receipts for travel in economy class will need to be provided with the traveller’s name.  We will set up a process for such reimbursements and send out further guidance soon.

     
  • Will I be able to complete my courses and/or get credits for my semester abroad?
    As of today, most programs located in the Schengen Area have made provision for online or remote completion of coursework.  Please coordinate this with your program provider in the first instance.  If such arrangements are not available for you, IPO will work with your home department and academic advisor to put in place alternative comparable provisions through UMass that may include online courses, independent study courses, etc.  These will be worked out on a case-by-case basis as appropriate.  Ultimately, there should be no adverse impact on your credits for Spring 2020 or your financial aid, so long as you follow the instructions provided by IPO.

     
  • Will my financial aid be affected by this decision?
    As long as you maintain continuous enrollment for at least 6 credits, there should be no adverse impact on your financial aid.

     
  • Will I need to repay any Education Abroad scholarships?
    No, you will not be required to repay any scholarships.

     
  • Will I get partial refunds from my programs?
    We are working with your program providers to get some answers on questions of partial refunds. In the first instance, please contact your program providers to see what their policy is. This issue will take some time to resolve and we will share updates as they become available to us.

     
  • What if I have made non-refundable travel plans to other countries? Will UMass assist with those costs?
    We understand that the suspension of study-abroad program activities may affect your personal travel plans.  UMass cannot assist with costs or refunds associated with travel other than as detailed above for return to the United States.

     
  • What about my friends and classmates enrolled in other programs? Are they also affected by this decision?
    Currently, only students enrolled in programs in S. Korea, Japan, and the Schengen Area have been subject to program suspension. We ask that you please follow the instructions and advice sent to you, consider it applicable only to your specific situation, and that you please help us curb the spread of misinformation about programs in other locations.  Your friends and classmates in other parts of the world will receive information specific to their programs as appropriate and applicable.

     
  • How can I get answers to further questions my family or I may have?
    We are working diligently to provide as much guidance as we can in a timely fashion.  Please continue to monitor your email for further updates from IPO.  We understand that you may have further questions that have not been answered, please e-mail those to coronavirus-ipo@umass.edu.  This account is being monitored through the weekend. Please do not delay making plans for your return while you await more information on specific issues  addressed above.

 

Sincerely,

Mark Eckman
Director of Education Abroad
Deputy Title IX Coordinator
International Programs Office
University of Massachusetts Amherst