Update on COVID-19: Program Suspensions and Worldwide Risk Review

Authored by:
James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

There have been changes to the global landscape over the last 24 hours that require CIEE to respond to emerging needs of students, parents, and our college partners.

Yesterday, March 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) elevated their Travel Warning to “Level 3: Avoid Nonessential Travel” for Europe and “Level 2: Practice Enhance Precautions” for the whole world; and the U.S. Department of State raised their global travel advisory to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” In addition, the White House issued a 30-day travel restriction for Europe, barring people who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents from traveling to the United States from Europe.

CIEE Programs in Europe

In response to the CDC increasing its warning to Level 3 for Europe, CIEE will follow the same protocol that we effectively used in China, South Korea, and Italy. Our CIEE staff in each country will, in a calm and orderly fashion, support students as they make plans to depart the impacted countries. Our teams will also support those students who are unable to immediately return, for whatever reason, until arrangements can be made. Student safety and support will be our primary and urgent focus.

In response to these events, our first action is to suspend our operations in the Schengen countries, referenced in last night’s Presidential Proclamation.

Effective March 22, CIEE will suspend operations in Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and Spain. Students will be asked to return home, and we will be moving to online delivery of CIEE-administered courses in these countries. Additionally, CIEE will collaborate with host institutions in these countries to determine whether alternative course completion options can be accommodated for each impacted student.

Shortly after this message, we will be reaching out to impacted students with program-specific details on the mechanics of continuing their coursework and how we will help them make arrangements to return home.

The Presidential Proclamation Regarding Travel from Europe

Last night we watched with initial confusion as President Trump stated that all travel from Europe would be halted as of Friday at midnight. Following the President’s remarks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security quickly published a statement which clarified that the travel restriction “does not apply to legal U.S. permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation."

Currently, the U.S. proclamation states “The entry into the United States, as immigrants or nonimmigrants, of all aliens who were physically present within the Schengen Area during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States is hereby suspended...

How We Will Support Our Students

Despite program suspensions, CIEE staff remain in all countries and cities and available to assist students. In all cases, we will support students in making appropriate travel arrangements and will provide guidance on how to safely return and integrate into their respective U.S. communities. No students will be left without housing support and staff assistance as plans are developed for their safe and responsible return to the U.S.

For our participants who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, there is no government-imposed deadline to depart Europe.

Students who are non-U.S. citizens without permanent U.S. residency may wish to return home immediately due to the travel restriction. Students with this challenge will receive immediate support from our global staff to help them make appropriate travel arrangement in a timely manner.

We understand that returning students will be screened upon entry to the United States and face quarantine or restrictions on their movement in the U.S. for 14 days. We will advise students as they depart that they should connect with their families or schools about how best to prepare to come into their living situation. Depending on individual circumstances, there may be local guidance available for returning travelers in addition to what the CDC has posted on their website.

We are aware that there will be challenges for some students to return to the U.S. due to their particular situation. In these circumstances, we will do all that we can to continue to support the student as they make the arrangements to appropriately return to the United States. No student will be left unsupported.

CIEE Programs Outside of Europe

While similar, the risk designations issued by the CDC and DOS are influenced by different risk factors and are issued and adjusted by different federal agencies.  Our Health, Safety and Security team monitors and evaluates all assessments by both agencies regularly and then develop appropriate safety recommendations.

CIEE’s policy is to conduct an updated risk review when the DOS issues a Level 3 advisory in any country. We are currently evaluating and reviewing risk assessments in all CIEE countries in which programs have not yet been suspended.

CIEE has operated in DOS Level 3 countries in the past (Cuba and Russia) and will only remain in a country that is a DOS Level 3 if we assess that proper mitigation measures can be implemented to ensure a safe experience for all students. 

Simply put, a U.S. DOS Level 3 is a trigger for a risk review, and not automatic cancellation. In this case, the entire global community has been declared a DOS level 3, therefore CIEE will be conducting an updated risk review in every country where we operate to determine if health and safety can be maintained. 

Next Steps

We will keep you updated on any additional changes to CIEE programs that may occur based on the worldwide risk assessment currently in progress.

Thank you for your patience as we work through these rapidly changing times.

Program-specific details will soon be sent to affected students, as well as their parents and advisors. We will field questions as quickly as we can, and, as always, our primary goal is to make sure our students are safe and supported.

To streamline communications, we ask, please, that:

  • Students bring questions or concerns to your local CIEE staff
  • Parents address questions to your student and their sending institution study abroad office
  • Advisors reach out to your Manager of Institutional Relations

Share This Post:

Learn More:

Request Information

Related Posts