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Spring study abroad programs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis

Student on a mountain top overlooks Queenstown, New Zealand.
Last winter, students visited Queenstown Hill, New Zealand, as part of the Sustaining Human Societies and the Environment New Zealand study abroad program. Photo courtesy of Sean Stroud.

From the Global Education Office:

Executive Vice President and Provost Cyril Clarke has approved a recommendation by the Global Travel Oversight Committee to allow for the possibility of spring 2021 study abroad activities to proceed contingent upon program-specific reviews, public health and safety guidelines, and alignment with the university’s academic planning strategies for the spring semester.

The committee, chaired by Don Hempson, associate vice president for international affairs, will evaluate each program on its own merits, the risks inherent to the destination, and any mitigation policies and protocols in place.

“Even as COVID-19 continues to disrupt international travel and reshape our shared lived experiences, Virginia Tech remains committed to providing transformational global learning opportunities for all students,” Hempson said. “We will continue to do all we can to facilitate cautious and responsible study abroad opportunities for Hokies this spring.”

Colleges, departments, and program leaders continue to have the authority to cancel, suspend, or reschedule programs as they see fit, Hempson said.

Any faculty members or students participating in a study abroad program will be required to have a COVID-19 test prior to departure and follow CDC-recommended quarantine procedures upon return. They will also be required to follow all quarantine protocols and risk mitigation requirements in their destination country. 

In addition, each faculty member leading a study abroad program will be required to submit an academic mitigation plan as part of the approval process. This plan will spell out how a program will proceed academically through the end of the semester should travel have to be suspended or canceled at the last minute.

“The Global Travel Oversight Committee will take a broad look at the health, safety, and security concerns on an individual program basis,” said Allie Oberoi, assistant director of global safety and risk management with the Global Education Office. “This approach allows us to support the health and safety of all travelers without unnecessarily canceling international opportunities.”

Oberoi said the committee takes guidance from a number of resources, including the U.S. State Department, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, local public health agencies, and U.S. Embassy country COVID-19 information.  

More information on international travel and study abroad can be found on the Global Education Office website