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Education Abroad Office

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions related to how COVID-19 has impacted education abroad.  Check out our frequently asked questions below.  To find more information about preparing to travel and monitoring the pandemic in your destination country, please visit our Health and Safety Abroad page.

No.  The Student International Travel Oversight Committee (SITOC), a committee of UofSC faculty and staff with broad experience in international travel and risk management, assesses a variety of factors when making decisions on where UofSC can support student travel.  First of all, please remember the situation as it relates to COVID-19 remains fluid.  All students planning to travel in the near future must remain flexible as sudden changes may become necessary based on the situation in your destination country.  Generally, UofSC plans to support students participating in approved education abroad programs.  However, UofSC may decide that it cannot support travel to a particular country.  When this happens, UofSC strives to notify students as early in the process as possible, but COVID-19 conditions can change rapidly from place to place and sometimes necessitate quick decisions.

Additionally, there are some countries not currently admitting U.S. residents.  While some have been allowing exceptions for students, this is not a guarantee and entry restrictions can change at any time.  You must stay up-to-date with entry restrictions for your destination country up until your departure date.  

The United States Department of State (“DOS”) has been making frequent updates to the DoS Travel Advisory levels for many countries around the world.  DoS Travel Advisories consider COVID and non-COVID related risks.  The CDC also implemented a specific COVID-19 Travel Health Notice system that considers COVID-related risks.

You should stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 situation in your country continuously -- you can find resources for staying up-to-date on this page.  You should also pay close attention to your program's payment schedule and refund policies.  Please remember that UofSC cannot refund you for any fees you pay to your program.

We also suggest compiling your COVID-19 travel safety plan.  You can use this form to compile this important information.

As a contingency plan, it is also helpful to work with your academic advisor to enroll in courses at UofSC as an academic back-up plan.

Entry requirements can change with little warning so it's important to continuously check.  The U.S. Embassy in your destination country tracks the entry requirements for U.S. passport holders.   You can find this information here.

We are strongly recommending that all education abroad students receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to travel.  Getting vaccinated helps mitigate the risk of contracting COVID and will help you be prepared for vaccine-related travel requirements.  For example, several countries in Europe have recently announced that only vaccinated travelers from the U.S. will be admitted.  Similarly, being vaccinated may help you avoid mandatory and lengthy quarantines upon entry into many countries.  Finally, we are aware that many of our Global Partner programs now require their participants to be vaccinated.  As you think about when to schedule your vaccine, please remember you are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after your second Pfizer or Moderna dose.  You can find more information about how to obtain a vaccine through University Health Services.

Also keep in mind that as of November 2021, countries are starting to consider the "expiration" of the vaccine.  For example, Italy recently announced that if you received your second dose more than a year ago, you are no longer considered fully vaccinated.  For this reason and depending on how the timing of your travel aligns with your initial vaccination, you may need to get a booster before travel.

UofSC education abroad students are required to be enrolled in UofSC's international emergency health insurance plan.  Our office enrolls you in this plan.  However, it is important to note that this insurance policy is for emergency medical and mental health expenses incurred while studying abroad.  It will cover medical treatment for COVID-19, but it is not a trip cancellation or trip interruption policy.  For more information about what UofSC's international emergency health insurance plan covers, please refer to our insurance provider's COVID-19 FAQ page.

The Education Abroad Office recommends considering a “Interrupt for Any Reason” insurance plan or a “Cancel for Any Reason” insurance plan.  Here are some options from our insurance company, CISI.  Not all plans will cover all costs associated with a program – please contact CISI or your chosen insurance provider directly for confirmation of what expenses would be covered.

Even if you do not want a "Cancel for Any Reason" policy, we strongly recommend considering a more traditional trip interruption policy with a quarantine benefit.  A trip interuption policy may also be used to cover unexpected expenses, including those associated with having to extend your travel if you test positive for COVID and are not able to return to the United States as originally scheduled.

Please remember that UofSC cannot refund you for any fees you pay to your program or for quarantine or testing costs.

Maximizing  flexibility when you purchase your plane ticket is helpful in case any unexpected circumstances arise that mean you need to change or cancel your flight.  When looking at possible flight paths, keep in mind that many countries will require that you have obtained a negative PCR test 48-72 hours prior to departure.  Think about this time window if you're booking a flight with a layover.  You should also be mindful of the entry requirements  in any country that you are transiting, as many countries require transit passengers to show proof of a negative PCR test even if they're not leaving the airport during the layover.  You can find information on countries' entry requirements  in your destination and transit countries on the U.S. Embassies’ COVID-19 Information Pages.

If you are on the fence, we recommend that you think about your own tolerance for uncertainty and change.  It is normal to feel some mixture of nerves and excitement as your departure date nears, but if you are feeling a high amount of stress when you think about your experience abroad, there is no shame in cancelling or deferring your education abroad application to a future term. 

That said, UofSC has successfully supported hundreds of students who have embarked on education abroad experiences from Spring 2021 and through the 2021-2022 academic year.  Their experiences may have looked a little different, but have still been valuable and positive.

As of 6/14/2022, international travelers entering the United States do not need to show proof of a negative result or documentation of recovery.  

 

For countries that require a negative test result to enter, most have an alternative option for travelers who have recently recovered from COVID and may still test positive.  This is usually called documentation of recovery or proof of recovery.

University Health Services is available to provide proof of recovery for travelers.  Please follow the instructions below:

  • Go to myhealthspace
  • Send a message to the Allergy, Immunization and Travel Clinic office ​​
  • Include your passport number in your request for proof of recovery ​​
  • The Travel Office will process the request and the travel waiver letter will then appear in your portal under “Letters”​​
  • Take this letter and your positive test result with you on your travels

Please be aware that countries have different timing requirements for who can use the proof of recovery option.  For example, one country may allow you to show proof of recovery if you recovered from COVID in the last 6 months while another may only allow you to use this option if you recovered in the last 3 months.


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