Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates

Effective immediately, all students studying abroad with CIEE are covered by this plan, should a health, safety, or security concern cause CIEE to cancel or suspend your program.

For College programs
For eLab programs
For High School Summer programs
For High School Semester programs
For Gap Year programs
For Teach Abroad programs

The safety of CIEE students is our highest priority, and all of our decisions about program suspensions will reflect that commitment to student safety. Please call 800.407.8839 anytime to speak with a CIEE representative if you have any questions

Statements and Program Notices

College Study Abroad

On March 15, as result of the increasingly unpredictable changes to the global health and safety landscape, and individuals’ ability to travel freely across borders, CIEE has suspended all study abroad operations in all sites across the globe for Spring 2020. Students on program have been asked to return home by March 22. Students whose programs have yet to start should not travel to their upcoming program.

Students worldwide who are enrolled in CIEE-delivered courses, have received, or will soon receive, detailed instructions about how to access and engage with their courses that are continuing with online delivery. (This option is available for nearly all CIEE-delivered courses from all our programs worldwide.) 

Our teams have been working with our international host university partners to establish whether there is an opportunity for students to complete courses remotely. Visit our Host Institution Course Updates page for more details on the status of host institution course contingency plans. 

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
  • US institutional representatives reach out to your Manager of Institutional Relations

College Study Abroad Program Change and Suspension Notices


J-1 Exchange visitor program

High School USA, Work & Travel USA, Internship USA, Career Training USA, Camp Exchange USA, Scholar USA
CIEE’s primary focus is to ensure our participants are safe, supported, and wherever possible, able to complete their exchange programs. Whether it be the impact on businesses around the world, border closures, or embassy appointment availability – it is clear that the global health landscape will continue to be unpredictable in the short term, and the full implications are not yet clear. Given the long road ahead, CIEE has assessed what is best for our current and prospective exchange visitors. Below please find important updates. These are subject to change as we learn more.



CIEE Teach Abroad has suspended all of its current programs for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

At this time, we do not anticipate any changes to our fall 2020 programming. 

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

What should returning students do, if within 14 days of leaving their study abroad location, they show symptoms of COVID-19?

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If, within 14  days of returning home, students feel sick with fever or cough, or have difficulty breathing, they should:

  • Seek medical advice, calling ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others (self-isolate).
  • Not travel on public transportation while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to avoid spreading the virus to others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Can I switch my course to pass/fail instead of receiving a letter grade?

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CIEE policy requires that grades are reported to students’ home institutions using a U.S. letter grade equivalent, and does not permit pass/fail or credit/no-credit grading. For the Spring 2020 semester, some of our international host institutions have made decisions to only grade using pass/fail marks. In those instances only, CIEE will report grades in alignment with what is reported by the host institution.Final authority for how credits or grades are posted toward a student’s degree program transcript rests with the student's home institution.

In order for the student's home institution to make appropriate credit transfer evaluation decisions, letter grades are CIEE’s standard reporting protocol, since transfer credit policies do not generally allow credit associated with grades of pass/fail or credit/no-credit to be transferred. Students should verify policies with their home schools if their host institution is only offering pass/fail grading.

What is CIEE's Refund Policy for Spring 2020 Programs?

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The refund policy varies depending on the particular program in which a student was enrolled for Spring 2020, as follows:

Spring Semester Programs
If a student is provided the means to complete their courses online or through other distance learning method, and thus have the opportunity to earn the originally anticipated academic credit, there will be no refund. However, if student is unable to obtain credits because a means of completing courses from a distance was not offered or possible, a case by case program assessment will be made to determine refund.

Open Campus Block 2
Nearly all Open Campus courses may be completed online, so students have the potential to earn all anticipated academic credits and there will be no refund. However, if students are unable to obtain credits because a means of completing courses from a distance was not offered or possible, a case by case assessment will be made to determine any potential refund.

Open Campus Block 3
Students attending Spring 2020 Block 3, which will be offered exclusively online, have the potential to receive a fully registered load of academic credit and will receive a 20% refund (of amount paid, after any scholarship or discount was applied).

Am I eligible for flight reimbursement?

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CIEE reviews flight reimbursement requests of up to $500 in change fees that an airline will not refund or forgive for roundtrip airfare to confirmed program location. A change fee is defined as the “penalty fee” that an airline may charge to change a ticket. Proof of the non-refunded fees must be submitted to CIEE demonstrating the change fees. CIEE will not issue reimbursements for differences in fare costs or new tickets purchased.

We recommend parents/students also do the following if appropriate:

  • Many US universities and colleges are assisting their students with Change Fees for flights- please confirm with your university’s Study Abroad Office to see if they are able to assist.
  • Students who purchased a new flight to return to the US instead of changing their original flight, please contact your airline for information on refunding the return portion of the original flight.

CIEE Academic Contingency Plan for College Study Abroad Program Suspensions

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CIEE offered the following options to CIEE students when program operations were suspended:  

Students were given the option to either: 

  1. withdraw from the program with grades of “W” reported for all incomplete classes; or 
  2. remain enrolled in all courses, under the following conditions: 

CIEE-Administered Classes: 
Students worldwide who are enrolled in CIEE-delivered courses, have received, or will soon receive, detailed instructions about how to access and engage with their courses that are continuing with online deliveryapart from a very small number of field or experience-based courses or labs for which online delivery is not feasible. In those cases, course credits will be adjusted to ensure students earn credit based on coursework and class time completed to date.  

CIEE online classes are delivered asynchronously, and students are provided additional resources and opportunities by their instructor to continue their learning through the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Many classes have recorded lectures linked via Canvas, with alternative readings, writing assignments, discussion boards, quizzes, and homework assignments that will provide students with opportunities to continue their learning, fulfill their contact hours, and gauge their learning progress without meeting an instructor in-person. 

Students in CIEE classes may also see changes to some assignments, particularly those dependent on in-person activities, such as presentations. These assignments will retain the same learning objective, but will change to a more suitable format.. CIEE staff will ensure any submission deadlines that require change or extension in order to incorporate these adjustments will be communicated clearly to all students via Canvas. 

Host Institution Classes: 
Our teams have been working with our international host university partners to establish whether there is an opportunity for students to complete courses remotely. Where it is possible, students will be contacted directly by their host universities and/or instructors with specific instructions. Students should keep both their home institutions and CIEE onsite staff informed of the completion plans posed by their instructors. If there is no plan available to complete host university courses at a distance, CIEE will request information from the host institution to determine if partial credit can be awarded for any affected courses. Once student-specific course completion details have been ascertained from our host institutions, CIEE will send each home school individual course plans for their students. Students are also advised to keep copies of all submitted and/or graded coursework, as well as a copy of their course syllabus and any materials provided by the instructor, and to be prepared to provide these to their home institutions upon request. 

Visit our Host Institution Course Updates page for more details on the status of host institution course contingency plans and more details on next steps and timelines. 



As this is an exceptional semester, CIEE will grant some leniency on standard course withdrawal policies for the spring 2020 term, as noted below. Students seeking to withdraw from classes that fall outside of the timelines noted below should contact to request to file a Grade Appeal. Grade Appeals will be accepted until three months after students’ grades are posted in their CIEE online accounts. In all cases below, Center Staff must obtain the home school study abroad advisor approval in order for CIEE to approve a student’s request. The below withdrawal policies apply only to requests submitted to CIEE after the program suspension was announced. 

  • Program Withdrawals 
    • For any student who requests a program withdrawal in writing, date stamped more than 24 hours prior to the first day of the final exam period or the earliest final assessment due date across all courses in progress, CIEE will grant grades of “W” for all courses. 

    • In the rare instance that a student is marked as “Withdrawn” by CIEEand CIEE receives a host institution transcript for that student with earned credits and gradesthe CIEE Portland Registrar will review the individual student’s circumstances to determine whether CIEE is able to issue/reissue the CIEE Academic Record noting these earned credits and grades. 

  • Course Withdrawals: CIEE will support student requests to withdraw from individual courses (without being considered withdrawn from the program), and grant a grade of “W” on the CIEE Academic Record, if all of the following apply:  
  • the request is received and date stamped more than 24 hours prior to the final exam or due date for final assessment 
  • the student remains enrolled in at least one credit-bearing course for the duration of the term (i.e. an intensive language course that ran the first two weeks of the program, and concluded ahead of program suspension, does not fulfill this requirement)  

  • If the request is to withdraw from a host institution course, CIEE center staff will ascertain how the host institution will include the course and any related grade for it on their transcript; and 

  • the home school study abroad advisor approves the request (in these instances, CIEE will uphold the decision of the home school) 

No financial refunds (beyond any that may have already been identified for the program) will be granted as a result of the aforementioned course withdrawal scenario. 

Will returning students need to be quarantined upon return to the United States?

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Government regulations will likely require that returning students be screened upon entry to the United States and they could face quarantine or restrictions on movement in the U.S. for 14 days. Students should connect with their family or school 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.

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people, and others, such as canine and feline coronaviruses, only infect animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses that infect animals have emerged to infect people and can spread between people. This is suspected to have occurred for the virus that causes COVID-19. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are two other examples of coronaviruses that originated from animals and then spread to people.  

There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans. For confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death. Symptoms can include: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and even death. Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. 

COVID-19 has now been detected in numerous countries globally, after first emerging in China, including cases in the United States.  The virus itself has been named SARS-CoV-2, and the disease it causes has been named Coronavirus Disease 2019 (abbreviated COVID-19). 

The Science of Covid-19

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Where can I learn more about the COVID-19?

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There are multiple excellent sources for more information on COVID-19 available to the public including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) website.  Information available on these sites includes symptoms, transmission, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment.   

What can you do to help prevent the spread of viruses and germs?

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Practicing healthy habits - particularly handwashing and disinfecting surfaces and objects potentially contaminated with germs – are the best ways to help prevent the spread of illness while traveling, at home, and in school.  CIEE is reinforcing these practices at every center worldwide and ensuring centers have an ample supply of hand soap available for participants and staff.  

The CDC specifically recommends the following: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Stay home when you are sick.  
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.  
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask:  
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.  
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.   
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. 

Where do I go for a vaccine for COVID-19? 

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There is no vaccine currently available and though there are many companies working on developing one, the process from development to approval and available could take months to years. The CDC does recommend that everyone gets a flu shot as no one wants to be dealing with the flu and have coronavirus at the same time.