COVID-19 and Updates regarding 2020-2021 off-campus academic programs

With most Spring 2020 off-campus study programs now complete or nearing the end of their programs, our efforts have primarily shifted to programs in the 2020-2021 academic year. For the Fall 2020 semester, the continuation of the COVID-19 health crisis globally, coupled with continued U.S. and international travel warnings and bans has caused Colgate to suspend nearly all Colgate operated study groups for the Fall semester. We are reviewing options to operate these groups in the Spring 2021 semester where possible. The one exception is that we continue to plan for a Fall 2020 operation of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) study group in Washington D.C., although the viability of this group will depend on the status of the NIH in fall as well as a number of other factors. We will continue to be in communication with study group students about the status of their program. 

We are allowing students on external approved programs for Fall 2020 to remain enrolled in those programs for now while program providers make determinations about the safety and viability of those programs. However, students should be aware that Colgate policy prohibits students and employees from traveling to countries that have U.S. Governmental travel warnings in place (see the below FAQ for additional information). Currently, global travel warnings from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of State remain in place that would prevent students from traveling internationally at the present time. These warnings will need to be lowered prior to the start of these programs in order for Colgate to allow students to participate in these programs. We will be in touch with approved program students over the summer as more information becomes available. 

We are planning for all Spring 2021 study groups and approved programs to operate as planned but this will depend on the course of the pandemic over the coming months. We will be in communication with students enrolled in Spring 2021 off-campus study programs as additional information becomes available. 

Additional information can be found in the FAQ document below. Many thanks for your patience as we work through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis together. 
 

Frequently Asked Questions

Fall 2020

Please contact our office at off-campusstudy@colgate.edu if there are any questions that are not addressed here.

In May, Colgate made the difficult decision to suspend all international study groups and the US-based, Santa Fe Study Group for fall 2020. All participants on these programs have been notified. We are deeply disappointed that the COVID-19 health crisis has impacted our off-campus programs in this way and we continue to review all options for students to pursue an off-campus study experience in the spring 2021 semester, including whether the fall study groups might be operated in the spring semester. We will continue to be in touch with the students enrolled on these programs as these plans develop. 

The only Colgate study group that we continue to plan for a fall 2020 operation is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study Group, which is based on Washington D.C., although whether this group will be able to operate as planned will depend on the status of NIH labs in the fall and a number of other factors.
 

At this time, Colgate has not prevented students from remaining enrolled in external approved programs for Fall 2020. This provides time for approved program providers to make determinations about their plans for their Fall 2020 programs. However, Colgate policy does not permit students or employees to travel to countries with a U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or U.S. State Department travel advisories above a Level 2 for either agency. Currently, the U.S. Department of State and the CDC have placed all countries under their highest travel warning (“Do not travel”) due to health concerns related to COVID-19. In order to participate in your approved program, international travel restrictions for your host country must be reduced to a Level 2 travel advisory or lower by both agencies. Travel warnings for the CDC can be found at www.cdc.gov and for the U.S. Department of State at www.state.gov.

Colgate is in close communication with approved program leaders about plans for their fall programs. Students and their families should carefully review fall plans and discuss their comfort level with overseas study at this time. We will rely on the approved programs to inform us of their decisions to operate or not operate programs this fall, provided the governmental travel warnings are lowered to acceptable levels as described above. If approved programs alter their schedules, reduce the length of time abroad, or the method of instruction, this could impact eligibility for academic transfer credit. Please consult with the Off-Campus Study office about any change to the academic schedule or design of your approved program.

Students who wish to switch their plans to the spring should first notify off-campus study to review those plans. Provided you receive approval and paid a $450 deposit, you can ask for that deposit to be moved to the next semester.
 

As noted in an email to all students from Provost Hucks and Dean McLoughlin on May 6, all students enrolled in fall off-campus study programs (both study groups and approved programs) will also be entered into the on-campus housing lottery process for the 2020-2021 academic year. Students are strongly encouraged to participate to secure on-campus housing options as a backup option should their program be canceled. Additional information on the Housing process can be found at the following link under the heading “Housing Selection 2020”: https://www.colgate.edu/covid-19-response/guidance-students

Please contact the Residence Life Office for additional information.

To withdraw from a fall 2020 study group, please email off-campusstudy@colgate.edu or log on to the off-campus study application portal, locate your application status under My Applications, and click “withdraw.”  We ask that you notify your Off-Campus Study program manager (Susan Light or Wendy Nugent) in writing to let us know that you have decided to withdraw so that we can change your status with Colgate, freeing you to register for fall classes and to make housing arrangements. In addition, if you are enrolled in a study group, please notify your faculty director of your intent to withdraw.

For study group changes, please email your program manager (Susan Light or Wendy Nugent) for additional advice. For approved programs, please contact Cas Sowa with your questions.

Off-Campus Study understands students’ concerns regarding studying abroad during the fall 2020 semester due to COVID-19, and will therefore make an exception to our policy and refund the $450 deposit funds should a student decide to withdraw from a fall 2020 off-campus program. Students whose deposits were waived will not be eligible for a refund. If you have decided to withdraw from a fall 2020 study group, please locate your application status under My Applications, and click “withdraw,” or contact Off-Campus Study directly (off-campusstudy@colgate.edu) in order to have your Colgate information updated accurately.

Students approved to study in the fall are not automatically approved to study in the spring semester.  Please review options on the off-campus website and contact our office at the addresses below. Students should contact the office of Off-Campus Study to review these plans before altering their status with an approved program or changing their status on the Colgate portal.

Please email Off-Campus Study at off-campusstudy@colgate.edu and Cas Sowa at csowa@colgate.edu.
 

It may be possible to make a late application to another fall program location, but deadlines are quickly approaching. Please contact Off-Campus Study to obtain University approval and to ensure that you follow the procedures to apply to a new program. If the program is offered by the approved program provider you are already admitted to (IFSA, CIEE, etc), then moving forward with new plans should be very easy as long as the specific program is already on the Colgate approved list.  Students should verify with Off-Campus Study that any new program will be approved for your major and does not require additional steps at Colgate.

Colgate study groups and approved programs have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as by local and international government regulations to preserve public health. We will continue to monitor the status of consular services (visa processing), international airline routes, and border access. In addition, local communities might take some time to get back to normal following the COVID-19 pandemic. This could mean that restaurants, museums, and healthcare facilities are not functioning at full capacity. In addition, Colgate is working closely with international partner universities on dates and the likelihood of face-to-face classes in the fall.

Previous Updates

Have any spring 2020 Colgate study groups been suspended?

On March 12, 2020, Colgate University suspended its study groups in France, Germany, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. based on the CDC travel advisory change. By March 15, a decision was reached to close all remaining programs (London English, London History, Wales, Scotland, Japan and Australia). The decision to close any program is a difficult one but the CDC’s sudden elevation to a Level 3 Warning for all of Europe left few options to continue to operate those programs safely. This CDC threshold is used by nearly all study abroad programs as part of their closure protocol. Recently announced travel bans and the increasing complexity of the Covid-19 pandemic also factored into our decision for other programs. Faculty directors will remain on-site to support all students through their departure from the country. Our office is deeply saddened by the lost academic and cultural opportunities that will result from these suspensions, but we have determined that these steps are in the best interests and safety of our students and faculty. 

Have spring 2020 approved programs been suspended?

Nearly all spring 2020 non-Colgate approved programs globally have now been closed. Specific questions about these programs should be directed to these specific provider organizations.

How will academic credit and financial matters be handled for suspended programs?

For Colgate faculty-led study groups, we will make every effort to allow academic coursework to be completed remotely. At this time, we are unable to guarantee that all courses will be able to be continued, especially for coursework that is being taken through a local host institution. We will work closely with host institutions to explore all possibilities. The ability to continue such coursework will likely vary on a course-by-course basis. On-site room and board charges will be refunded on a prorated basis. 

For non-Colgate approved programs, please follow the guidance offered by your provider organization, as they control all of the financial and academic policies for those programs. Colgate’s OCS office will work closely with these partners on issues related to academic credit.

How will the recent travel ban from Europe impact me?

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the travel ban announced on March 11 and then March 14 bars travelers that are not U.S. citizens, permanent residents and their families from entering the United States from the Schengen Area of Europe as well as the United Kingdom and Ireland. These recently announced actions will have the most impact on international students trying to return to the United States from these areas. International students should contact Dean Kerra Hunter (315-228-7370, knhunter@colgate.edu) with questions on how these restrictions might impact them specifically. 

Should I return to campus if my program is cancelled?

No. We are asking all Colgate students to return to their homes once they return from an off-campus study program. 

If I cannot return home for any reason, what should I do?

If you meet either of the circumstances below, please notify your administrative dean at least 24 hours in advance of your intended arrival to campus. There will be special self-monitoring instructions for you to follow for 14 days (these special instructions will be linked to this document by March 14) for a return to this community. 

  • International students should first contact Dean Kerra Hunter (315-228-7370, knhunter@colgate.edu) before making plans. She can help confirm the status of your U.S. visa and advise you if it would be better for you to return to your home country or to the United States. Colgate can make accommodations available to those students unable to return to their home country. 
  • Students who are unable to return home. We know that some students will not be able to return to their homes either because of travel restrictions, concerns that their primary residence does not provide robust internet capabilities to engage in online learning, or other reasons. We will ask students to work directly with their administrative dean if they feel this description matches their circumstances. Students may find information about their administrative dean in the Colgate Portal.

Are there any special health recommendations that I should follow on my return?

The CDC is providing detailed guidance for returning from a Level 3 country.

If you spent time in the specified countries above during the past 14 days:

  • Stay home for 14 days from the time you return from travel, monitor your health and practice social distancing. Social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.

If you get sick with fever (100.4°F/38°C or higher), cough, or have trouble breathing

  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • Tell your doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Colgate has officially recalled all Colgate faculty-led study groups. Students have been notified by their faculty directors in person and with a formal letter of notification through our off-campus system.

All non-Colgate approved programs are also now suspended and students have been asked to return home.

Please contact our office at off-campusstudy@colgate.edu if there are any questions that are not addressed here.

Colgate has officially recalled all Colgate faculty-led study groups. Students have been notified by their faculty directors in person and with a formal letter of notification through our off-campus system.

All approved programs are also now suspended. and students have been asked to return home.

There have been significant changes since our last update that have required an Office of Off-Campus Study response in order to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff participating in off-campus programs.

On March 11, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) abruptly raised its travel advisory for most European countries (excluding the UK and Ireland) to a Level 3 Warning - Avoid Nonessential Travel, its highest level. The CDC also elevated its travel advisory to a Level 2 Alert - Practice Enhanced Precaution, for all other countries not currently in a Level 3 category. The United States also announced a travel ban that blocks travelers that are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents or their families from traveling from Schengen Area countries in Europe to the United States. 

On March 14, the United States extended the travel ban to the United Kingdom and Ireland, with similar terms. There is an expectation that the CDC will also elevate its travel advisory for these countries soon. 

Below is an FAQ that addresses the steps that the OCS office has taken in response to these changes.

We have contacted all students on Colgate study groups and non-Colgate approved programs to address how these changes will impact them. Please contact our office at off-campusstudy@colgate.edu if there are any questions that are not addressed here.

The Office of Off-Campus Study continues to carefully monitor developments with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) and their potential impacts on students both on our Colgate study groups and those on approved programs sponsored by outside organizations. The safety and wellbeing of all of our students during their academic programs abroad continues to be our highest priority. We are working closely with the emergency management team at Colgate to carefully monitor developments related to this situation and are taking appropriate steps to minimize the risk for all of our students studying off-campus. 

Risk Analysis

Colgate University has a variety of sources at its disposal to analyze the impact of COVID-19 to its programs. The Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of State both provide critical information that guides Colgate’s response. Colgate also has an extensive network of international partner universities, approved program partner organizations, and faculty study group directors abroad, all of whom provide information about local conditions. Colgate also contracts with an international security and risk company, International SOS, that provides real-time bulletins and resources for medical, travel and security services. International SOS also provides customized intelligence and guidance to Colgate for specific countries where Colgate runs study groups. 

Personal travel recommendations

Given the recent spread of the COVID-19, Colgate is strongly advising all students who are currently studying abroad, whether on Colgate’s own programs or non-Colgate approved programs, to avoid personal travel outside of your host country until advised otherwise. Many non-Colgate approved programs have already put similar recommendations in place. 

Rules for crossing borders can change rapidly in the current environment and can include requirements for self-isolation for 14 days or even potential bans that prevent travel out of the country or return to your host country. Such events may result in your being in violation of your approved program rules for travel, changes to your housing (especially if you are in a host family setting) or missing significant class time. 

Should you elect to engage in personal travel in spite of this advice, please carefully follow travel advisories from the CDC, U.S. State Department, and travel restrictions from your host country government and approved program provider, where applicable. If you make the decision to travel, you must register any personal travel with your approved program provider or at https://offcampusstudy.colgate.edu/ and your faculty director for students on Colgate study groups. Students should not travel to countries where there is a CDC Level 3 Warning or with U.S. State Department Level 3 or 4 alerts. Any member of the Colgate community can also receive advisory information from International SOS through its website and app. Information about login credentials will be provided directly to students studying off campus via email. We encourage you to take advantage of these resources. 

Participation in formal academic excursions as part of your program can continue with no restrictions as these excursions are carefully vetted by Colgate or your approved program provider. 

Students on Colgate Study Groups

For students on Colgate study groups, please continue to remain in close contact with your study group director and follow all guidance from your director and local host institution. The Office of Off-Campus Study will continue to carefully monitor the situation in each of the countries where we have programs and will provide updates if conditions change. If you do not hear from our office, this means that there have not been significant changes and the program continues to operate as normal. 

Students on non-Colgate Approved Programs

For students on non-Colgate approved programs, your provider organization and/or host institution is responsible for your safety and well being. Because these organizations have staff on the ground, they are best positioned to provide support and advice during this situation. Therefore, it is essential that you follow all guidance from your program provider. Please remain in close contact with your local program administrators for news and updates. 

Program Suspensions for Current Programs

In the current environment, you may have questions about how decisions regarding suspensions or closures of programs are made. As you may be aware, some non-Colgate approved programs have announced suspensions or closures of programs in China, South Korea, and Italy. Decisions about the status of non-Colgate approved programs are the responsibility of the provider organizations and Colgate is not involved in such decisions. In the event of the suspension of a non-Colgate approved program, Colgate will work closely with the provider organization with respect to issues of transfer credit. 

For Colgate study groups, we have a variety of criteria that contribute to our decision to suspend an existing program. However, our standard protocol is to follow U.S State Department and CDC travel advisories to determine location safety, in combination with intelligence from our third-party provider organizations, on-site university partners, local health authorities, and International SOS. If a country or city is below a U.S. State Department or CDC Warning Level 3, we typically consider this a safe environment for our students with manageable risks and will generally not consider suspension of a program unless other factors are present. Any change in these advisory levels will prompt a complete review of the conditions on the ground. 

Because the safety and well-being of our students is our highest priority, we will take action to suspend a program and immediately relocate participants outside of a high-risk area should we feel that we cannot uphold this commitment. In this event, we will quickly notify affected students and their families. We will also determine what options are available for students to complete the academic requirements of their program. Available options may vary considerably based on the program structure, location, and timing of the suspension. 

The current global health situation has presented challenges for many Colgate students studying off-campus. We remain deeply committed to the wellbeing of our students. We will carefully monitor the situation and make any adjustments needed to keep our students safely engaged in important academic experiences off-campus this semester. The Office of Off-Campus Study will continue to provide updates as the situation develops but please do not hesitate to reach out to our office should you have any questions. 
 

The following message was sent to the Colgate community on January 29, 2020 under the subject "Off-Campus Study & the Novel Coronavirus (2019nCoV)":

Dear Colgate faculty, staff, and students currently abroad or planning to travel internationally,

The 2019 Novel Coronavirus, a new virus which originated in central China, has resulted in daily announcements about precautionary practices by governments, health authorities, educational organizations, and the travel sector*. While Colgate University has no formal off-campus programming in China this semester, we want to provide the following informational advisory.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is monitoring confirmed cases in the US and around the world. As of January 30, there are no confirmed cases in the state of New York. At this time, there is no need to change any routine activities or behaviors.

Symptoms

Coronaviruses can cause respiratory illness in people that will be very familiar. Symptoms of this disease include:

  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • A general feeling of being unwell

At this time, the incubation period from exposure to illness is believed to be within 14 days.

Treatment

There are no specific treatments for human coronaviruses. Most people with common human coronavirus illness recover on their own. However, you can do some things to relieve your symptoms:

  • take pain and fever medications (Caution: do not give Aspirin to children)
  • use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
  • drink plenty of liquids - avoid becoming dehydrated
  • stay home and rest

Prevention

In general, practicing routine hygiene etiquette is the best way to prevent the spread of infection:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Practice coughing and sneezing etiquette by sneezing/coughing into your elbow
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • If sick, stay home to avoid spreading the illness, especially if you have a fever. You should be fever-free before resuming normal activities.
  • After using a tissue when you cough or sneeze, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • clean and disinfect objects and surfaces - especially bathroom/kitchen

Persons confirmed to have 2019-nCoV are being quarantined.

If you suspect you have been exposed to 2019-nCoV or feel ill, tell your study group director or onsite program advisor and seek medical care immediately. Please also contact the office of Off-Campus Study at 315-228-7216 to let us know you are unwell. You may contact Colgate’s Student Health Center at 315-228-7750 or Campus Safety 24/7 at 315-228-7911 (ask for the dean on call). If you are ill, stay in touch with your study group director or on-site program advisor so they are aware of your well-being; ask for help if you need it.

*Travel

Most off-campus programs are already on-site. However, for those of you traveling in the next month(s), you could experience airport delays because of health screenings. Prepare to arrive early for your departing flight abroad, and be patient after landing if you are asked to participate in a health screening. The European Union just announced that screenings will also be in place in land border crossings. These measures are for your safety.

Do not travel if you are feverish; travelers who are sick face the risk of being quarantined and/or undergoing tests.

On January 30, 2020 The US State Department issued a Level 4 travel advisory for all of China - the highest possible prohibition against travel. The Level 4 (includes Afghanistan, Iran) means that Colgate University bans any Colgate-business or educational travel there.

If you plan to travel internationally, you should adhere to the directions of the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. International SOS (ISOS) is monitoring the outbreak and provides advice to travelers. Use Colgate’s membership number (11BSGC000073) to log in for detailed information.

As this is a rapidly developing situation, it’s important that you check the websites shared here regularly for updates, and pay attention to news reports. Follow the recommendations of international and local health authorities. Also if you are attending a non-Colgate program, please follow the provider’s directions as well.

Student Health Services and the Office of Off-Campus Study will remain in frequent contact to discuss any further recommendations.

Merrill Miller, MD; Director, Student Health Services
Joanna Howley Bowles, Director of Off-Campus Study
Wendy Nugent, Program Manager, Off-Campus Study