The NAFSA EAKC Health and Safety Subcommittee and the EARP Committee created this resource to assist education abroad offices in assessing risk of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information provided is meant to be adapted to your institution’s needs, as a starting point or resource to add to any current pandemic related considerations. This resource may be especially valuable for under-resourced or small, one-person offices.
Use this information at your own discretion, as the committees acknowledge each institution has to make decisions that meet their university’s own risk tolerance level.
Please also see helpful resources on the NAFSA Health and Safety page, including those from the Peer-to-Peer Perspective: Restarting Education Abroad.
Feedback on this resource or additional considerations may be emailed.
- Determine which stakeholders and partners should be in this conversation about travel related to the COVID pandemic
- Make sure all major stakeholders are engaged in the conversation of restarting education abroad programming (including those from your university and from your partner organizations)
- Consider creating an international risk management committee, please see this newly created NAFSA Resource
- Assess your Program Portfolio
- Review your most popular destinations and consider suspending programs with historically low enrollment to make your risk assessment work more focused
- Consider using the lull in programming to make long term strategic decisions about programming
- Identify where you have on-the-ground support that would make risk assessment more reliable and accessible
- Consider whether your budgets would allow for purchasing services from a private intelligence firm or security provider to assist you in a more nuanced approach to risk (e.g. ISOS, On Call International, WorldAware, etc.)
- Confirm your insurance coverage
- Determine if your insurance covers students traveling to DOS Level 4 countries
- Explore whether your institution should purchase trip cancellation/interruption insurance
- Confirm whether the the country of entry requires additional insurance to be purchased
- Review where students can travel
- Consider border closures - if students cannot enter due to border closures, don’t spend time doing a risk assessment for that country
- Determine whether visas are required and if they are being issued by the consulates
- Confirm whether US Embassy and consular services are open and available in the host country
- Consider vaccination status of travelers
- Determine how a requirement for travelers to be vaccinated will impact your risk assessment
- Confirm whether a vaccination will be required for entry into the country or if the program provider requires it
- Prepare your students for travel during the COVID pandemic
- Develop COVID specific information for Pre-departure Orientations, use the program-specific information you have compiled from Step 3 below
- Consider creating an informed consent document for students to sign, and discuss with your legal counsel as available, please see examples on NAFSA website
- Determine appropriate no-go thresholds based on your own institution’s risk tolerance.
- Review the information available via the following key resources.
|Country-Specific Considerations||Information Source|
|COVID Vaccination rate by country||https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations|
|CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination||https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html|
|US DOS country-specific travel advisory||https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories.html/|
|WHO Efficiency of Care Rating (static resource)||https://www.who.int/healthinfo/paper30.pdf|
|Global Health Security Index assessment (static resource)||https://www.ghsindex.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2019-Global-Health-Security-Index.pdf|
|Brown School of Public Health Metrics on Case Rates||https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/|
|WHO current COVID infection rates/spread||https://www.who.int/news-room/articles-detail/public-health-considerations-while-resuming-international-travel|
|Johns Hopkins International Comparison of Positivity Rates and Tests Per Capita||https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus-testing#the-positive-rate-a-crucial-metric-for-understanding-the-pandemic|
|European Center for Disease Control||https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/cases-2019-ncov-eueea|
|CIEE Health Risk Index||https://www.ciee.org/about/blog/introducing-ciee-health-risk-index|
|University of Washington Hospital resources use/ICU capacity information from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation||https://covid19.healthdata.org/global?view=resource-use&tab=trend&resource=all_resources|
|Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs||https://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/countries-economies-and-regions|
|Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories||https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories|
|United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Consular Division Travel Advice||https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice|
|Republic of France Travel Advice||http://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/fr/conseils-aux-voyageurs/|
|Switzerland Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Travel Advice||https://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/laender-reise-information/reiseinformationen/reisehinweise_kurzerklaert.html|
|New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade Travel Advice||https://safetravel.govt.nz/travel-advisories-destination|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy Travel Advisories||http://www.viaggiaresicuri.it/|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain Travel Recommendations||http://www.exteriores.gob.es/Portal/en/ServiciosAlCiudadano/SiViajasAlExtranjero/Paginas/RecomendacionesDeViaje.aspx|
|Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan Travel Information||https://www.anzen.mofa.go.jp/|
|Program-Specific Considerations||Recommended Threshold|
|Are plans in place for academic completion if the semester is interrupted?||Partner/host institutions should have a clear contingency plan in place to complete academic delivery if the semester is interrupted. At a minimum, the plan should make clear the transition to remote-delivery of course content. More nuanced plans might include several interval measures between 100% in-person and 100% remote-delivery.|
|What is the current mode (in-person, remote-delivery, hybrid) of course delivery? What mode of delivery is projected for the next term?||Ideally, the partner/host institution should be able to articulate how these determinations were made, as well as the frequency with which they are re-evaluated. Students should be informed of the current plan at the partner/host institution, as well as the contingency plan(s).|
|Is the academic objective of the program something that cannot be accomplished through online, or even hybrid, delivery? Examples of this might be field placements or hands-on research where work must be performed in a laboratory setting.||If there are no viable contingencies for a program of this type, this should be made abundantly clear to participants before they enroll and commit.|
|Are plans in place for housing if the semester is interrupted and the student needs to remain in-country?||Partner should provide options to students or some level of support for accommodations.|
|How is housing impacted by quarantine and/or isolation protocols?||
Program housing that can be used for quarantine or isolation without the student having to relocate is preferable.
Some programs will have separate housing for Quarantine / Isolation available to students at no additional charge, while other programs will require students to pay for housing for the duration of quarantine / isolation. (Some countries will require isolation to happen in special facilities designated by the government, with varying levels of support for essential items like food).
|What are the occupancy levels?||Housing with fewer students sharing common space will help to avoid complications when one roommate tests positive and ‘close contacts’ must quarantine. If using apartments - two person apartments would be ideal.|
|Will the host provide refunds for room/board if the program is interrupted?||Host should agree to refund unused portion of room/board.|
|Until when are tuition/program deposits non-refundable?||Learn all relevant deadlines and communicate clearly to student.|
|Who is covering quarantine costs?||Host should provide clear direction on who will cover these expenses; student must agree if they will bear the cost.|
|Is Cancel-for-any-reason insurance included in program cost? What unrecoverable costs can students expect if the program is interrupted due to COVID?||Students should have very clear understanding of any unrecoverable costs.|
|COVID Specific Safety Measures|
|What protocols are in place for a student who tests positive for COVID?||How will the student be supported?|
|Is reliance on public transportation necessary?||If reliance on public transportation is necessary, host should have alternative plans in place in case of disruption to service.|
|What are the vaccination requirements of this destination or program?|
|Are flights readily available and sufficient?||Flights are reasonably available (e.g. in case of emergency and need to fly home, or in case someone needs to fly there).|
|Are visas available and are there any entry restrictions (for US or other nationalities)?||Students should be able to legally enter, plan should be in place for US visitor in case of emergency.|
|What is in place to ensure students are safe and COVID-free to travel (are they required to show a negative test result, are they required to quarantine for 14 days prior to departure, is a medical clearance document required for entry, is vaccination required for entry)?||Requirements should be clearly communicated to students, partner should have protocols in place to help ensure students are not spreading COVID to local communities.|
|Upon entry to the country, is a period of quarantine required for travelers from the US?||
Any quarantine requirements should be less than 14 days and any partners that provide housing should have a plan to monitor and house students and provide basic necessities (food, water, laundry, etc.)
If the program is short-term would the required quarantine disrupt learning or make it such that running the program isn’t worth it? Could some academic activities take place in quarantine?
|Are there rules in place for preventing outbreaks? How are they shared with students and how are they enforced?||Expectations should be clearly laid out for students.|
|Are there any in-country restrictions (e.g. curfew, stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions)||Consideration of whether these restrictions impose undue hardship on students or indicate an unsafe environment. Knowing the destination's trends or go-to response will help set expectations for students.|
|Has the host institution or partner demonstrated capability to manage future/current outbreaks?||Review of previous semester response should be positive (if applicable).|
What is the impact on the local community? Does the program present a significant risk to the host community?
Would student admission to a health care clinic or hospital take away needed health care availability from the host community?
Consider the amount of contact with the host community and whether requiring vaccination of students mitigate risk to the community.
Check ICU occupancy rates for the destination to determine if healthcare is accessible to the community and students.