In light of the continuing global pandemic of COVID-19, we have compiled the following guidance for students and families considering studying abroad in spring 2021.
To learn about the university's full response to the pandemic, visit the Lehigh University Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Center.
Considerations for Spring 2021 Abroad Programming
Updated September 24, 2020
The global coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. No travel is risk-free, and disruption is still possible. While Lehigh carefully reviews the locations and academics of our approved study abroad programs, the university cannot guarantee the safety of our students while they are abroad. Travel of any kind during the unpredictable circumstances of COVID-19 carries additional risks.
In addition to following Lehigh’s guidance, students and families must determine their own comfort level regarding international travel. We list below some factors to consider when determining your individual level of risk tolerance for any academic, financial, or other impacts traveling abroad this fall may entail.
- Are passport/visas services available in the United States? Abroad? Do I have passport/visa documents needed to travel?
- When are deposits/payments due and what is the refund/withdrawal policy, including related to housing if I am forced to depart before the end of the semester?
- Am I comfortable with the housing options offered by my program? (Many programs are switching to all single accommodation and avoiding homestays.)
- Do I accept any policies my program has that might restrict my ability to travel independently?
- Am I knowledgeable about and comfortable with the healthcare facilities in my destination country should I need them?
- Will my airline allow me to change my return flight without penalty, or am I comfortable with the change fee/paying for a new flight?
- Do I still want to go abroad if there is a possibility my host institution overseas might switch to all online classes?
- In the event that my program must close mid-semester, what would the impact be on my ability to graduate if I can't complete all my credits in the fall semester?
- Do I recognize the possibility of new travel restrictions that would affect my ability to access flights to/from the United States and/or host country?
Please also note that if you experience an emergency while abroad, family and friends may not be able to travel to visit or assist you due to travel limitations and restrictions.
Communications with Students
Travel abroad risk management and review for Spring 2021
Updated September 24, 2020
Lehigh University senior leadership and medical professionals in the Health and Wellness Center have been monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak since it emerged, and they continue to do so.
The International Travel Advisory Committee (ITAC) is a group of Lehigh staff and faculty from across the university that reviews all undergraduate international travel. This committee, along with other university leadership, made the decisions about when Lehigh's spring students abroad were called home as COVID-19 spread worldwide. The committee suspended summer and fall 2020 study abroad programming.
In reviewing spring 2021 programming, ITAC will reference a broad range of domestic and international resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization, International SOS (ISOS), and our partners abroad. ITAC will review a number of factors, such as: CDC and U.S. Department of State Travel Alerts, availability of flights, partner program response planning regarding COVID19, guarantee that courses can be taken remotely should a student not be able to travel or must return to the states early. In order to consider allowing travel to a particular country, in conjunction with other logistical considerations, Lehigh will be looking for the CDC travel health notice to be no higher than 2 and State Department travel advisory no higher than 3.
Students with a compelling academic need that cannot be met in a future semester or by an approved program may submit a special request to participate in a program that is not on our Spring 2021 approved list. The program location must still meet the criteria described above. The request will be reviewed by Study Abroad and the LU International Travel Advisory Committee. Before beginning this process, students must discuss their plan and program with their study abroad advisor, who can provide additional details about the process and the factors under consideration.
The following is a partial list of resources that may be consulted by ITAC as part of the program review.
U.S. Department of State
The U.S. Department of State assigns a travel advisory to every country on a scale of 1 to 4 in addition to providing detailed advice regarding in-country safety and security concerns for U.S. travelers.
U.S. Department of State Country Specific Information
Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
OSAC promotes security cooperation between American private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State.
Forum on Education Abroad
Forum sets the "Standards of Good Practice" for education abroad programs
Governments of United Kingdom, Canada, Australia