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Study Abroad COVID-19 Response FAQ

How does SUNY Geneseo assess the risk of a location?

SUNY Geneseo determines location safety by following U.S. State Department  Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning level alerts, and World Health Organization (WHO) advice. U.S. State Department Level 2 and CDC Warning Level 2 are our normal maximum operating levels. If a country or city is below a U.S. State Department Level 3 and CDC Warning Level 3, it is normally well within SUNY Geneseo’s risk tolerance. Any elevation in advisory levels indicates a change in condition, prompting us to review the situation, assess impact on our students and staff, and evaluate whether we can maintain our programs.

Our assessment includes information from all available intelligence, including local staff, our intelligence providers, the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), and cross-reference with our fellow SUNY study abroad offices. Sometimes the warnings are particular to a region or a group of people, and we can safely and confidently mitigate the risk. When our review aligns with the government advisory and mitigation proves impossible or impractical, we decide to suspend a program. However, this assessment and decision making is superseded by decisions and advisement given by the State University of New York and Governor’s office.

Information on the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory levels

Will SUNY Geneseo be suspending study abroad programs?

Because the global health outlook related to COVID-19 is fluid and can change rapidly, the timing of our program suspension decisions will be based on a balance of global health information, public health and safety advisories, travel restrictions, visa application dates, and program deadlines, as well as institutional and student feedback. Once a decision has been made to suspend a program, SUNY Geneseo will promptly notify our students and institutions with pertinent details.

SUNY Geneseo will be making the decision to cancel a study abroad term according to the schedule below. This is generally the earliest date SUNY Geneseo will cancel a term by. As stated before, the global health outlook related to COVID-19 is fluid and can change rapidly and therefore a program could be suspended at any time.

Academic Year/Fall: June 1st

Winter Intersession: August 1st

Spring/Spring Break: October 15th

Summer: March 15th

Because this is a rapidly evolving situation, we ask that students currently abroad or planning to study abroad in the future stay in touch with the Study Abroad Office and watch for updates from our office.

Has Geneseo suspended any study abroad programs?

Geneseo is continually assessing the operation of all future programs.  Provided is historical information on program suspensions caused by COVID-19.

All spring 2020 and spring break 2020 study abroad programs. 

  • As of March 4, based on CDC and U.S. State Department elevated travel advisories as well as guidance from SUNY Office of Global Affairs, SUNY Geneseo has suspended spring study abroad programs in Italy, Japan, and South Korea.
  • As of March 10, the State University of New York (SUNY) suspended all spring and spring break study abroad programs in all locations. Students were notified of study abroad program cancellation on March 10.
  • For official notice of spring program suspension, please refer to this Study Abroad Program Update.

All summer 2020 study abroad programs.

  • As of March 20, the State University of New York (SUNY) cancelled all scheduled Summer 2020 study abroad programs. The State Department has issued a  Level 4 Advisory, recommending no international travel for any U.S. citizen due to the global impact of COVID-19 and existing international in-country travel restrictions and quarantines.

All fall 2020 study abroad programs.

  • As of April 6, the SUNY Geneseo Office of International Programs and the School of Education decided to cancel the fall Student Teaching Program in Ghana.
  • As of June 1, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in consultation with the Provost's Office and the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Emergency Risk Management Team, has decided to suspend all study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo for the Fall 2020 term.  In addition, inbound international exchange student mobility will also be suspended for the Fall 2020 term. 

All winter intersession 2020-2021 study abroad programs.

  • As of August 2020, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in conjunction with the Provost’s Office, has decided to suspend all study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo for the winter intersession 2020-2021 term.
  • As of October 16, 2020, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, Ted Laursen, announced that "the determination has been made that all University sponsored student international travel (study abroad and other student activities) is cancelled for the winter and spring 2021 terms due to the ongoing pandemic. This is a continuation of the current suspension of international study and sponsored travel and is driven by our ongoing commitment to the health and safety of students, faculty and staff."  

All spring break 2021 study abroad programs.

  • As of August 2020, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in conjunction with the Provost's Office, has decided to suspend all study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo for the Spring Break 2021 term.

All Spring 2021 study abroad programs.

  • As of October 16, 2020, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in conjunction with the Provost's Office, has suspended all study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo for Spring 2021. As of October 15, all SUNY Geneseo-administered study abroad program countries were rated by the US Department of State (US DOS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as to be at or above level 3, with the exception of Thailand and New Zealand.  With the programs in Thailand and New Zealand suspended by the partners abroad, functionally, all Spring 2021 study abroad programs are suspended.  As such, the ongoing potential health and safety threat to our students prevents SUNY Geneseo from proceeding with student mobility programs for Spring 2021.
  • As of October 16, 2020, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor, Ted Laursen, announced that "the determination has been made that all University sponsored student international travel (study abroad and other student activities) is cancelled for the winter and spring 2021 terms due to the ongoing pandemic. This is a continuation of the current suspension of international study and sponsored travel and is driven by our ongoing commitment to the health and safety of students, faculty and staff."  

All summer faculty-led study abroad programs.

  • As of September 16, 2020, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in conjunction with the Provost's Office, has decided to suspend all faculty-led study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo due to the nature of running faculty-led programs. Please note, our summer programs through our partner universities are not suspended.
Has SUNY Geneseo suspended any study away (domestic) programs?

All spring break 2020 and summer 2020 study away programs.

  • As of March 11, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office suspended all spring break and summer study away (domestic) programs. Students were notified of the study abroad program cancellation on March 11.
  • As of March 20, the State University of New York (SUNY) cancelled all scheduled Summer 2020 study abroad programs, which include study away programs. The State Department has issued a  Level 4 Advisory, recommending no international travel for any U.S. citizen due to the global impact of COVID-19 and existing international in-country travel restrictions and quarantines.

All fall 2020 study away programs.

  • As of June 1, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in consultation with the Study Abroad Emergency Risk Management Team and the Provost’s Office, has decided to suspend all study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo for the Fall 2020 term, which includes semester-long study away programs.

All winter intersession 2020-2021 study away programs.

  • As of August 2020, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in conjunction with the Provost’s Office, has decided to suspend all study abroad programs administered by SUNY Geneseo for the winter intersession 2020-2021 term, which includes study away programs.

All summer 2021 study away programs.

  • As of September 16, 2020, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, in conjunction with the Provost's Office, has decided to suspend all faculty-led study away programs administered by SUNY Geneseo due to the nature of running faculty-led programs. Please note, our summer programs through our partner universities are not suspended.

For students currently abroad or planning to go abroad

What if a student wants to come home from a location deemed safe?

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office also understands that in some cases a student may wish to return home from a program that is within our risk tolerance. For further information, contact the Study Abroad Office.

What happens when SUNY Geneseo suspends a current or upcoming program?

If we suspend a current program, we will immediately notify students, their partner university, and any faculty or staff leading the program (program leaders.) 

We’ve prepared an academic options guidance document to help students find academic alternatives for mid-term program suspension.

If an upcoming program should be suspended, we will swiftly notify students, partner institutions, and program leaders. We will also direct students to campus offices for assistance with academic planning, financial aid, and other considerations when applicable. 

What academic contingency plans exist for suspended programs that are currently operating or a student is registered for?

If a program is suspended or if a student decides to return home from a program, and the university partner abroad offers distance learning, SUNY Geneseo expects the returning student to complete their term through the distance learning option. If students are offered by their host institution to continue coursework remotely due to COVID-19, coursework will be designed for students to continue learning through alternative means to satisfy course completion. Coursework might be delivered in a multitude of ways,  allowing for maximum flexibility.

If a program is cancelled or if a student decides to return home from a program, and the university partner abroad does not offer distance learning, SUNY Geneseo will work with students to build a schedule for the term. 

We’ve prepared an academic options guidance document to help students find academic alternatives for suspended Spring 2020 study abroad programs.

In the case of a spring break, summer, or winter intersession faculty-led program, the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office will work with the faculty member to decide if the class will move to a distance learning model or whether it will be cancelled. This decision depends on many factors including how close to departure the cancellation takes place.

What if students have upcoming independent travel plans?

We encourage students, family members, and partner university colleagues to stay up to date with travel advisories, review their independent travel plans, and develop contingency options in the event that travel is made more difficult by health concerns.

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office does not monitor independent student travel. Students who are currently studying abroad should carefully consider independent travel plans and not visit locations under travel restrictions of a known virus "hotspot". Students should check with their local host university international office, the CDC, and the WHO prior to travel to reconfirm local conditions. 

Students are strongly encouraged to inform the Study Abroad Office of any independent travel plans during their study abroad program. Travel itineraries and contact details should be emailed to studyabroad@geneseo.edu.

Students traveling independently will be required to abide by any public health or safety measures imposed by local authorities. Students traveling independently should exercise standard hygiene practices and consult with local health care providers if they experience symptoms associated with COVID-19. They should also prepare for extended disruptions by bringing along passports, medications, insurance information, and other necessary personal items and documentation.

Are there additional risks for students traveling abroad independently?

During the COVID-19 outbreak, some locations have experienced rapidly changing conditions and serious disruptions, including public transportation curtailment, mandatory health screening, regional entry and exit prohibitions, mandatory quarantine, and other significantly-impactful public health measures. While SUNY Geneseo provides pre-departure information to assist students in making good choices to minimize risk, the risk assumed (health, safety, and academic/program) by traveling outside of their country of study is their own. Students considering independent travel are strongly advised to research local conditions, anticipate potential complications that may impact their personal health, safety, or ability to complete their academic program, and prepare for possible long-term disruptions.

Students should be keenly aware that whether or not they are exposed to the virus that the local response to the virus could dramatically alter their travel plans.

What if a study abroad student thinks they have the coronavirus?

It is important to remember that the symptoms of COVID-19 disease are very similar to a common cold or the flu. If a student falls ill and exhibits the symptoms for COVID-19, they should remain at home and contact UnitedHealthCare, the international office of their host university or their program leader, who will advise them on the next steps to take with local medical authorities. If a student is unable to connect with the international office or program leaders, the student should contact the emergency phone number for their specific country, disclose their symptoms, and follow the guidance of local medical authorities. The US State Department has compiled a list of emergency phone numbers abroad

Students returning to the United States or home country are expected to notify their local health department.  If a returns to the United States or their home country and if they show symptoms, should inform their medical provider where they have been traveling. The medical provider, not the student, will decide whether or not the student is tested for COVID-19.

It is strongly advised that students with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, and/or other illnesses, and those on immunosuppressive medications, seek guidance from their primary care providers and/or specialists before deciding to travel. 

What if a student needs to be quarantined abroad?

If a student has a medically mandated quarantine abroad, due to illness or prior travel,  please notify the Study Abroad Office and contact the local U.S. Embassy. If you have not already done so, it is encouraged and advised to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with the Department of State. 

Please be advised that if a quarantine is required, the cost of the quarantine will be the student’s responsibility.

Will students be required to quarantine if they return to New York State?

At this moment, students who are returning from any country that has a CDC Level 2 or 3 travel warning may be subjected to a 14-day precautionary quarantine. Students should contact the New York State Department of Health and local county Department of Health authorities to notify them of their return to the US, identify where they have been traveling, and seek advice and updates in regards to self-isolation or quarantine measures. 

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office does not have the authority to determine quarantine measures.

If students provide information about their return to the USA to the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office, SUNY Geneseo will notify the Livingston County Department of Health. The local health department has the responsibility to follow up with the returning individuals to determine if and how quarantine will be carried out.

What is and is not covered by UnitedHealthCare Health Insurance for students who are diagnosed with COVID-19?

COVID-19 will be covered as any other sickness or injury in the Student Health Insurance Program with UnitedHealthCare (UHC). UHC will also provide recommendations to the best in care facilities. They will cover the medical expenses - per policy guidelines - for medical care for the member that has contracted COVID-19. They will also assist in communications if needed between the student and their family members. They will provide direct payment to the providers that the student is utilizing. 

The current policy will not cover evacuations due to a high frequency of COVID-19 globally. Instead, students who have contracted COVID-19 will be treated immediately with the best in-care services that are available in the given area of travel. UHC will also not provide a separate quarantine or isolation location for students. 

To understand the benefits provided by UHC Health Insurance or inquiries about support, please review this SUNY International Abroad Insurance Benefits for COVID-19 PowerPoint provided by UHC.

What if a program is suspended mid-program?

By when do students need to decide to come back to the United States or return to their home country if a program is suspended mid-program?

If a program is suspended, students who plan to return home are encouraged to do so as soon as possible after students’ have the opportunity to make travel arrangements and speak with appropriate stakeholders, including their host-, administering- and, if applicable, home institutions. 

Remember that the spread of COVID-19 presents us all with a dynamic set of circumstances that are changing rapidly.  By remaining in place, students could encounter inconveniences and obstacles associated with the escalating local and international response to the pandemic.

Are there different return deadlines depending on the CDC  travel notice levels and U.S. Department of State travel advisory levels for each country?

There are no separate return deadlines for U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory levels of 1, 2, 3, or 4, or for the CDC Travel Notices levels of 1, 2, or 3.

Will there be reimbursement of tuition?

Please check back later for an updated answer.

Will there be reimbursement for housing costs related to shortening time abroad?

Please check back later for an updated answer.

Will there by reimbursement for flight change costs.

Please check back later for an updated answer. 

Will the SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office be reaching out to host-institutions to explain the situation?

If a program is suspended, SUNY Geneseo will notify all host-institution partners of the recent development. Students should connect with their International Office at their host-institution and discuss their decision to stay or leave.  

If professors at the host-institution are unable to accommodate distance learning, does this mean students need to take alternative coursework upon return to the United States?

If the university partner abroad does not offer distance learning, SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office will advocate for students in determining the options for completion of their academic requirements.

We’ve also prepared an academic options guidance document to help students find other academic alternatives available through SUNY for suspended Spring 2020 study abroad programs.

If a student is allowed to complete their semester through remote learning, will they still receive credit?

Yes; if the host-institution university offers students to complete their semesters through remote learning opportunities, then students will receive credit for their semester upon program completion and SUNY Geneseo’s receipt of the transcript from the host-institution university.

Regarding SUNY's assertion that it will not be providing any assistance to students who choose to stay abroad, what services could SUNY Geneseo offer students abroad in case of emergency that the U.S. embassy could not?

The SUNY Geneseo Study Abroad Office can offer guidance and advocacy regarding the completion of academic credits. For all matters relating to safety in-country, the student should work directly with U.S. Embassy officials.

If students decide to stay abroad and finish the semester at their host-institution, will they still be able to receive credits?

Should students elect to continue their study abroad program and remain in their host-country, and that host institution issues a transcript, SUNY Geneseo will continue to accept students’ transcripts upon program completion. Students will not be de-registered from Study Abroad or from SUNY Geneseo.

What will happen to a student's financial aid if they elect to stay within their host-country?

Financial aid will not be impacted if a student remains full-time abroad (the equivalent of 12+ US credits) and are able to complete their semester coursework. However, should the situation deteriorate within the host country and the student is not able to finish their semester, SUNY will have no responsibility for assisting in credit recovery and financial aid may be impacted.

Will students still be able to access their UnitedHealthCare insurance should they elect to remain in their host-country?

Should a student choose to remain abroad, UnitedHealthCare (UHC) insurance coverage will continue through a student’s original study abroad program dates. However, students who remain abroad will need to work directly with UHC to get assistance to resolve issues. For all students covered by UHC, if a provider deems appropriate to test a student, the COVID-19 testing kit will be covered by the UHC policy for all groups of SUNY students.  

Information on how to contact UHC

Resources for Study Abroad Students