COVID-19 FAQs for Spring 2021 Study Abroad Programs

Spring 2021 Study Abroad Suspended

For the past several months, Notre Dame International has closely examined evolving factors including travel bans and advisories, the spread of the pandemic, the ability of health care systems around the world to provide the necessary care, as well as our capacity for surveillance testing and ability to quarantine and isolate our students, staff, and faculty overseas should it become necessary. Unfortunately, the dynamically changing spread of the pandemic globally and the associated uncertainties make the risks to our students and faculty simply too high at this time. This news is deeply disappointing, but necessary to protect the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff—our top priority. We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming months.  

How will it be decided if a program is canceled?

NDI carefully monitors health and safety conditions at all of our program locations and in close cooperation with various sources on the local, national, and international level, such as the CDC, U.S. State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), International SOS, and our local staff and partners. Other determining factors include COVID-19 conditions in each location, entry requirements, on-arrival quarantine requirements, flight and visa availability, healthcare capacity, status of routine and emergency care, efficacy of testing and more. If we or our partners abroad feel that your health or safety is at risk or that we can no longer provide an optimal experience for you, we will modify or cancel the program as needed. If you would like to learn more about the decision-making process, you’re welcome to view the Study Abroad & the COVID-19 Pandemic information session video on our website.

What is the status of all spring 2021 study abroad programs?

Currently, Notre Dame plans to announce its decision regarding spring 2021 in mid-October. However, several of our partner institutions have canceled their incoming study abroad programs. They include:

  • National University of Singapore (NUS)
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK)
  • University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle Program)
  • CIEE, Shanghai
  • University of Sydney
  • University of Hong Kong (HKU)
  • Nanzan University (Nagoya Program)

This list will be updated as more information becomes available.

What changes can I expect for Spring 2021 if my program runs?

Spring 2021 study abroad will be different than you expected due to the impact of COVID-19. For instance, some program arrival and end dates may be modified. Also, your in-country experience may be different due to on-arrival quarantine requirements or travel restrictions.

Due to border policies and entry restrictions changing frequently, and in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as well as exposure for our students and our Notre Dame communities, all independent international travel outside of the host country will be prohibited during the program. Instead, we ask that you postpone travel outside your host country until after your program has ended (not before and not during). You will be required to adhere to local guidelines regarding travel within your host country.

Also because of border policies and entry restrictions, this may also mean that family or friends you expected to visit during your program won’t be able to do so (as they would need to quarantine on arrival for a period of time or may be restricted from entering at all).

Overall, we ask you to be flexible during your time abroad due to the changing nature of the global pandemic, be respectful of the local community’s health and safety (including other Notre Dame students), and be compliant with local COVID-19 laws and guidelines.

How will Notre Dame prepare me to go abroad?

Notre Dame staff both in the US and local partners will help you prepare for your time abroad. We will be providing students with a series of virtual pre-departure orientation sessions (currently underway), which will continue until close to your departure day.

Will classes occur in-person in the spring?

Any study abroad programs that operate in the spring must have classes held in person with appropriate social distancing and sanitation protocols in place in order to run. Some programs will be a hybrid of in-person learning and online learning. However, it is possible that once a program has started, some study abroad programs may shift to an online format should that be necessary as a result of local public health guidance, exposure requiring self-isolation, or COVID-19 illness.

Will visas be required?

Some study abroad programs may be modified to under 90 days, and as a result, U.S. citizens may not be required to obtain a visa. All international students, students pursuing an internship in London, and some programs may be required to obtain a student Visa. Students needing a visa will work closely with their program director to begin this process.

Can I defer my acceptance to a future semester?

Not at the moment. However, if Spring 2021 programs are canceled, you will be given the option to select a summer program or the same program for Fall 2021. You will work with the Study Abroad program director to make this change before December 15, 2020.

If my program is canceled, will I be able to switch to another study abroad program for spring 2021?

All of our programs are at full capacity and we can no longer accept new applicants for spring 2021 or allow students to switch programs.

What happens if my spring 2021 program is canceled after the program starts?

We will assist you in completing coursework on the main campus, remotely, or through a combination of both.

Can I withdraw from spring 2021 study abroad?

Yes, you may withdraw from study abroad at any time.

Will I have to pay a withdrawal fee if I withdraw from my spring 2021 program?

The withdrawal fee will be charged unless your program is canceled. See the Study Abroad Withdrawal Policy.

Will I be able to register for classes on the main campus if my program gets canceled?

You will want to plan for both an abroad and a main campus schedule. However, we anticipate the study abroad decision will be made before the December 2nd on campus registration date for Spring 2021.

What about housing for spring 2021 if my study abroad program is canceled?

Scenario 1 - If all Study Abroad programs are canceled: 
Students who already have a bed assigned on campus for fall semester will automatically retain that same bed for spring semester unless they contact Residential Life to decline. Off-campus students who wish to live in a residence hall during the spring semester should apply for housing in Home Under the Dome, though Housing cannot guarantee a particular hall. Off-campus students who apply by October 25 will receive a spring housing assignment by the end of finals week. Contact ResidentialLife@nd.edu with any questions.

Scenario 2 - If some or all Study Abroad programs will proceed: 
On-campus students who intend to study abroad during the spring semester must vacate their residence hall room and turn in their key by noon on Saturday, November 21. If a Study Abroad program is canceled, or if a student decides to cancel their semester abroad, on-campus students will automatically retain the same bed that was assigned to them during the fall semester unless they contact Residential Life to decline. Off-campus students who wish to live in a residence hall during the spring semester should apply for housing in Home Under the Dome, though Housing cannot guarantee a particular hall. Off-campus students who apply by October 25 will receive a spring housing assignment by the end of finals week. Contact ResidentialLife@nd.edu with any questions.

Will students be required to quarantine upon arrival?

This is a possibility and will depend on the requirements of the host country, which are subject to change. For example, students committed to study abroad in the UK, Ireland, and Italy are currently subject to a 14-day quarantine, which would take place at Notre Dame Gateway housing or partner university housing. Should quarantine on-arrival be required, each program will provide academic and personal support, such as meals and food delivery, during the quarantine period and specific instructions will be shared closer to spring. We continue to closely monitor COVID-19 developments and changes to entry requirements and will notify you of any changes.

If a student is required to quarantine, will classes be available virtually?

Virtual classes and/or appropriate accommodations will be made to support students’ ability to stay on track academically.

Will travel be permitted within the host country region?

Similar to students in South Bend during the Fall 2020 semester being asked by the University to not travel outside the South Bend area during the semester, students will be asked to refrain from traveling outside their host country for the duration of the program. Instead, we ask that you postpone travel outside your host country until after your program has ended (not before and not during).

However, students will be permitted to travel within their host country. As a requirement of your program participation, you must adhere to local guidelines and any travel restrictions within your host country, and students will be routinely apprised of any updates. Students will also be required to sign a Safe Travel Pledge prior to departure. Please note that students will be solely responsible for the foreseeable consequences of violating the travel guidelines, including any fines, costs associated with quarantine, inexcusable absences from classes missed as a result, and referral to the University’s conduct process.

Are masks being provided upon arrival?

Students are expected to bring their own supply of masks. Each NDI Gateway or Center will maintain a supply of disposable masks for special use.

Should I talk to my doctor about traveling during COVID-19?

If you have underlying health conditions that might put you at higher risk for infection or serious complications of COVID-19, we recommend speaking to your doctor to decide if travel and living in another country for an extended period is advisable at this time and, if it is, how to manage your health abroad.

Will students be required to take a COVID-19 test before departing for their program? How recent should the results be?

Yes. Consistent with the practice before arriving at the main campus in August, students should expect to have a COVID-19 test before traveling. The requirements for how soon before travel the test is required will vary by location and program start date. Details of the pre-travel testing process will be released closer to spring semester.

Will students need to take a test upon arrival?

This will depend on quarantine and testing requirements in the host country.

Will the University’s international insurance cover COVID-19 testing?

University international insurance will NOT cover preventive testing. For example, if you are required to have a COVID-19 test on arrival as an entry requirement of the host country, this is not covered by the University’s international insurance and would be the responsibility of the student. However, should a student become ill, then any necessary COVID-19 testing and medical treatment will be covered by the University’s international insurance plan you are automatically enrolled in.

What if a student is sick or exposed to a person that is positive with COVID-19?

The University and local partner will support any student who is sick or has been potentially exposed to a sick individual (close contact) in receiving the necessary testing and medical care, which is reimbursed through our international insurance partner, as well as academic support. Sick or self-quarantined individuals will be isolated away from other students, and facilities will be sanitized per local public health standards.

Students are expected to follow medical advice regarding testing, treatment, and any necessary self-isolation. If a student is required to quarantine for any length of time because of exposure, the student will be able to continue to study remotely.

Please note that testing positive for COVID-19 will NOT result in a student’s repatriation to the United States. Excellent medical care is available in each location where we operate a program. It is unlikely that either the host government or the US government will permit a known positive individual to fly.

If my parents are concerned, is there someone they can talk to regarding their questions?

Study Abroad staff are prepared to answer your parents’ questions. Notre Dame International also has a full-time international travel and safety professional who is available for consultation. If you would like to schedule an appointment to go over any concerns or questions about the program, please email studyabroad@nd.edu or contact your program director directly.