FAQs: Fall 2021 Off-Campus Study
- When will the College decide whether students can participate in Off-Campus Study during the Fall 2021 semester?
Due to the ongoing dynamic nature of how the pandemic is affecting each country, the College has decided to make a final decision about study abroad participation by July 1. OCS will communicate with individual students about timing of visa applications, and payments of deposits, as well as tuition and housing payments.
- How does Swarthmore make decisions about student participation in off-campus study during the current COVID-19 pandemic?
The International Travel Risk Management Committee takes many factors into account, including guidance from health professionals who advise the College concerning COVID-19. Considerations also include guidance from the CDC and Department of State, and the specific ability for study abroad programs and universities to host our students during the ongoing pandemic. Also see COVID-19 Travel Resources.
- Will students be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to participate in Off-Campus Study?
Yes, students must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to participate in the Off-Campus Study Program. Students will upload their vaccination information directly in the OCS portal, where more detailed instructions are provided.
- How will students book travel?
Students will be notified by OCS when booking travel is permitted and will be provided with instructions on how to book their travel with Key Travel.
- How do students handle changes to their flights?
Participants in the Off-Campus Study Program are required to book their travel through Key Travel. If it is necessary to change a flight, students should contact Key Travel directly. This information will be provided to participants.
- What if a program is cancelled before the end of the semester?
If a program suspends operations prior to its completion, every effort is made by the sponsoring program or university to provide a continuation of studies, through remote means, so that the student can complete their studies. Swarthmore will support students through this transition.
- What if a program is not suspended, but a student still wants to leave it?
Participation in off-campus study is voluntary, and students may choose to leave at any time. However, if students choose to withdraw from a program, and therefore not complete their studies, they should not expect to receive credit or a financial refund for the program. Programs and universities normally make every effort they can to support students, and each person’s case will be considered individually.
- Can students return to Swarthmore if their program is suspended or they decide to leave early?
Students participating in off-campus study programs cannot return to campus during the semester, as it is too late in the term to enroll in classes here, and the College does not have housing available to accommodate such requests.
- What should students and families consider prior to July 1?
It is always a good idea for students and their families to consider planning ahead should the situation in their program of study change, and should they need to return to their home. That is particularly important now, given the dynamic nature of this situation around COVID-19.
Students and their families should follow communications from their programs or universities in response to COVID-19, and they should follow recommendations of authorities local to their destination about best practices around issues of health and safety.
Given the stress on health care systems by the pandemic, students should make sure that they have recently reviewed their physical and health care needs, including physical and dental check-ups. Students should plan how to manage their health care needs while studying abroad.
- What else should travelers consider?
Participants should be aware of any requirements for entry for their host country such as proof of vaccination, and recent negative COVID test results. They should also be aware of requirements upon arrival that may include testing and quarantine. Please note that detailed preparations for students are covered in the OCS Practical Matters handbook and guidance for parents and guardians is available on the OCS website.
We recommend the following:
- When planning, review the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories for health alerts and policies that pertain to COVID-19 and any other health, safety, or security issues.
- U.S. citizens should register their international travel through the U.S. Department of State’s STEP program, and citizens of other countries should check to see if their country offers a similar service. You can also register to receive travel advisories and local information directly from a U.S. Embassy in another country.
- Details on insurance and other trip planning information is available in the Off-Campus Study Practical Matters handbook.
- Be alert to country immigration policies as they relate to both your country of origin (i.e., U.S.) and as they relate to countries you transit through.
- Read local media from countries to which you will travel to understand local perspectives on COVID-19 and any other health, safety, or security concerns.
- Always make sure that your immunizations or other travel health recommendations for travel to other countries are up to date.
- Plan ahead if you are traveling with medications. In addition to making sure that your medications are legal in the country you are going to, make sure you have an extra two-week supply (in the original packaging) in case you cannot return on the planned date.
- Make sure you have sufficient access to funds in case you cannot return home as soon as planned.
- Make sure that you have a plan for communicating back home while traveling, and always share your travel plans with a relative or friend.
- Review the Department of State’s information for students abroad. This includes important information about downloading the State Department app to receive safety and security messaging.
Upon Return from Travel
Be aware of any requirements that your home country may have in place for returning travelers which may be specific for people returning from your host country. Contact your health provider if you return from travel with any cold symptoms including, but not limited to, cough, fever higher than 99.5F, headache, or shortness of breath.