Coronavirus (COVID 19) Updates
Impact on U of A Student Travel
The Office of Study Abroad & International Exchange has been conducting all business in a hybrid format since early-August.
To reach a study abroad staff member, you can call 479-575-7582 or online chat with us during normal business hours, or email email@example.com.
Each member of our study abroad office staff shares your disappointment in this continued global disruption to travel, including education abroad. At this time, our priority is to continue to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our entire University community. The information here can be shared with U of A students, faculty, staff, and family members. Please note that there is different information for each group.
Summer 2021 Study Abroad
The University has conducted a holistic review of COVID-19 protocols and safety plans and will allow students to participate in approved programs at the Rome Center and with select external programs. Rome Center information is available on the Rome Program COVID-19 Operations Plan, which includes answers to many frequently asked questions. This approval process for individual and faculty-led programs will take time as the evaluations are nuanced and program specific. The Office of Study Abroad will inform applicants with final updates as soon as possible.
Programs with departure dates after August 2021 will be re-evaluated at a later date. As always, the university's priority remains to continue to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff.
As we look forward to summer travel, we do so with great hope, but also realistic expectations. All travelers must understand that international travel and study abroad is very different now than before the pandemic. We recognize that there are limitation to answering specific questions here, but we encourage you to contact the study abroad office directly to arrange an advising appointment.
Testing & Quarantine before Travel
All individuals who expect to travel internationally are encouraged to remain extra vigilant in protecting themselves from the virus. This includes frequent and early testing, which is available through Pat Walker Health Center. Early testing can reveal asymptomatic COVID-19 that could prevent travelers from getting on a plane if they are not aware of infection before testing to travel. We anticipate most international travelers will require testing within 72 hours of boarding international flights, and we know that effective January 26, 2021, the US requires proof of negative COVID-19 test prior to entering the US.
Student Access to Vaccination
As of March 16, 2021, the Arkansas Department of Health opened Phase 1C, which includes 16-64 year olds with pre-existing health conditions that increase their risk for severe COVID-19, as well as people residing in high-risk settings like "student housing, such as dorms or Greek housing." Eligible students in Phase 1C can receive vaccinations from Pat Walker Health Center or other local COVID-19 vaccination sites in Arkansas.
Petition for Exception to the International Travel Policy
Students interested in participating in independent travel beyond the circumstances described above will need to submit a Petition for Exception. A student's petition should include a written justification articulating the academic necessity of travel, the status of lawful entry for travelers to the chosen destination, personal risk factors and steps taken to mitigate personal risk, mitigation plan by the receiving university or academic partner abroad, and any other relevant travel information for the students' destination from CDC, US Department of State, OSAC, or other reputable source. The appeals process follows the Academic Policy Series 1835.00. Students should contact their Study Abroad Advisor for more information.
University of Arkansas continues to review and update its COVID-19 response, including international travel restrictions for students, faculty, and staff.
Preparing for Travel
Apply for your US Passport today. US Passport Services continue to operate at reduced capacity for travelers. At this time (February 2021), regular passport processing may take as long as 10-12 weeks. Students must plan ahead if they don't already have a valid passport. Don't delay- apply immediately if your summer plans even tentatively include international travel.
Assess your health needs with guidance from a physician now. Travelers must assess their health needs and make the decision to travel accordingly. Understand that some people may be at a higher risk for severe illness, such as older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. Before financially committing to international travel, travelers must realistically assess their health needs, with the guidance of their physician, and make the decision to travel accordingly.
Purchase trip cancellation insurance with 'cancel for any reason' (CFAR) benefit and refundable airfare. Studying abroad in a COVID-19 era demands flexibility, and the Study Abroad Office strongly encourages students to purchase trip cancellation insurance with CFAR and/or IFAR ("interruption for any reason') to safeguard against losses or penalties associated with withdrawal or program cancellations. The U of A assumes no responsibility for such losses or penalties. A student can purchase CFAR/IFAR policy on the market, or work through this recommended resources: Daun Flynn at the Travel Depot.
Consider COVID-19 vaccination as it becomes available to your risk group. Consistent with phased rollouts, we understand students will be eligible for vaccination in late spring or early summer. In other words, study abroad travel is not a reason to be eligible for vaccination. Advice from health professionals, including Pat Walker Health Center, is to get immunized as soon as you are eligible, reducing the risk of infection for yourself and others.
Get tested and stay home after higher risk travel. Testing before and after travel can reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. Testing does not eliminate all risk, but when paired with a period of staying at home and precautions like wearing masks and social distancing, it can make travel safer by reducing spread on planes, in airports, and at travelers' destinations. If you participated in higher-risk activities during your international travel, health advice includes:
- Get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home for 7 days after travel.
- Even if you test negative, stay home for the full 7 days.
- If your test is positive or if you have symptoms, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- If you don't get tested, stay home for 10 days after travel.
- Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness for 14 days, whether you get tested or not.
Always follow state and local recommendations or requirements related to travel.
Good resources on COVID-19 and travel are available through our insurer, CISI, for all your COVID Questions and Answers.
Educate yourself about new COVID-19 airline travel or border entry requirements. Many international airlines or ports of entry (including the US border) require travelers to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the 24-72 hour window prior to travel, or are expected to require proof of vaccinations, so planning ahead is critical. Be advised that even approved travelers may face required self-quarantine upon entry (up to 14 days) to many locations internationally. In addition to the US Department of State's Travel Country Information Pages, traveler may find the International Air Transport Association's COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map a helpful planning tool because it features regular updates on entry/transit restrictions, health requirements, closed/open airports and borders, and flight suspensions.
Future Student Travel
The Study Abroad office continues to make every effort to reduce the impact on students as they plan for future programs. Programs scheduled to depart after August 2021 are moving forward as planned, but may be subject to postponement or cancellation as the global COVID-19 situation evolves.
The Study Abroad staff invites students to discuss future opportunities today as they plan for the long term. For example, we continue to advise on summer and fall 2021 programs, anticipating continued improvements to global travel circumstances. Some students are working even farther into the future as they map out their 4 or 5 year degree plan. Let's talk!
We can help you at any stage of the process, whether you are a prospective U of A student exploring your college choices, or a student with previous study abroad experience ready to plan your next adventure.
Check out our Explore Page to learn more about advising opportunities, including info sessions, general advising, and major-specific advising.
Resilient International Learning
Virtual Faculty-Led Programs
Virtual cross-cultural programs offer international experience with no passport required! These programs offer the additional bonus of being very affordable and available immediately to globalize your education.
Summer opportunities continue to evolve as conditions for international travel change. Review all virtual faculty-led programs, and contact faculty & program leaders to learn more.
The Study Abroad Office is also available to advise students on a growing list of virtual international academic opportunities through external or third-party affiliate programs.
Virtual International Internships
Work with an international organization to differentiate your resume, build essential skills that employers value, and grow your professional network. Participants build their digital literacy and intercultural communication skills through project-based learning, preparing themselves to adapt to a 21st century workforce.
While completing a professional project with an international business, NGO, health, or education organization, you have the option to earn U of A credit and access financial aid and scholarships. Virtual internships are open to students from all majors and can be conducted during the summer or semester in addition to your U of A course load. For example, a student may register for 12 semester hours, plus 3 virtual internship hours, for a total of 15 credit hours that are eligible for U of A scholarships and financial aid.