This message builds upon the December 8 email from International Safety and Security. You can read that email on the Safety Abroad blog. Today we are sharing a few additional updates.
As a general note of caution: The global situation/trend reinforces that studying abroad requires a significant commitment to personal responsibility. You will be expected to continuously stay informed of, and adhere to, the guidelines of local and national governments, your program, and global best practices for COVID-19 safety.
Rising Infections. The university is watching the situation carefully and notes that infection rates are increasing globally. Most European countries are DoS Advisory Level 4 due to COVID-19. As noted in the previous email, the university will not suspend a program solely on the basis of the advisory level. However, we are monitoring infection rates and levels of hospitalization, including ICU capacity.
Care Before Travel. You should plan not to travel if you are sick (fever, sore throat, fatigue, etc.). (If you are sick at the time of departure, please coordinate with your sponsoring unit and the partner to arrange for a delayed arrival.) To limit the chance of illness, carefully consider your actions in the 14 days before you depart (read more in this guide from the Illinois Department of Health):
- Avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces.
- Don’t host or attend a gathering if you are sick or have symptoms.
- Get tested if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
- When traveling, wear a mask on public transportation.
- Wear well-fitting masks over your nose and mouth if you are in public indoor settings or crowded outdoor settings.
- Wash your hands with soap and water and/or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer regularly.
- Consider alternative greetings to decrease risk. Use hand sanitizer after shaking hands.
Testing. As the rate of infections grows globally, testing is a critical component of wellness. Remember that most countries and partner institutions do not offer the level of free testing found on campus.
- Some countries are changing to require testing before travel, even if vaccinated. Continue to check requirements at the U.S. Embassy COVID-19 webpages.
- You should research and understand the testing process at your destination. It varies by embassy but most U.S. Embassy COVID-19 webpages have information on local testing.
Virtual Check-In Session. The study abroad offices will hold a virtual check-in opportunity for students on January 5, 2022 at 9:00am Central Time. Representatives from programs in France, Spain, Italy, Austria, and Sweden will be on the call to answer questions and share updates in relation to COVID-19 and daily life in their country. Below is the zoom info:
Refresh Country and Program Information. You completed a Student Assessment and Action Plan as part of your application. You should take some time over the break to review specific information in the plan, using the links that are provided. Key questions include:
- Entry requirements.
- Host nation progress in vaccination.
- How to access testing.
- Preparations before travel.
- Process for quarantine.
If you have questions, you can contact your sponsoring study abroad office or International Safety and Security. You can read more on all these topics at the Study Abroad webpage.