PLU Study Away
Last updated March 18
Beginning in January, and aligned with best practices in the field, the Wang Center began monitoring the development of COVID-19 in programs worldwide guided by standard points of reference including, but not limited to: the US State Department Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, John Hopkins CCSE, international insurance providers, country-specific US Embassy alerts, and public health notifications. Based on the directives provided by these sources over the course of the semester and the university’s increased concern regarding travel disruptions, all spring short-term programs are now cancelled and all semester programs are now suspended. By suspended, we mean that semester study away students are returning home but will continue their coursework online and will receive credits for their semester abroad. PLU has its own staff and partner program staff on the ground supporting our Lutes away during this very difficult and unprecedented global event.
The Wang Center staff has also been working hard on the back end supporting students with ticketing and guidance for travel home including what to expect in air travel and health guidelines for those returning from impacted areas. As has been the case for PLU students at home, involuntary suspension of programs has created upheaval for our Lutes away and traveling home, especially, has been a challenge. The Wang Center is aware of this, as are many of the impacted students, our staff on the ground, and families. Together we are working to make their return as smooth as possible given these unprecedented circumstances.
PLU’s 24/7 Europ Assistance
As a reminder to students currently studying abroad, PLU’s 24/7 Europ Assistance travel insurance is available for a referral to medical care, mental health support, or regional travel advisories at:
In early January, the Wang Center, in partnership with university officials, formed a Crisis Management Team dedicated to the COVID-19 outbreak and its implications for the safety of students, faculty, and staff participating in programs abroad and locally. The team has been closely monitoring the outbreak and making changes to existing programs as warranted. To determine location safety, the team relies on notifications and updates from standard points of reference including, but not limited to: the US State Department Travel Advisories, Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, John Hopkins CCSE, international insurance providers, country-specific US Embassy alerts, and public health notifications in all PLU Gateway, Featured, Approved, and short-term program locations.
Should the status of the illness change in one of PLU’s program locations and develop the potential to compromise the safety of students, faculty, and staff, the Wang Center will inform participants of any contingency plans and coordinate with program leaders or providers to implement those plans expeditiously.
Aligned with on-campus strategies to contain the disease, study away participants have been strongly encouraged to engage in proactive practices that are recognized as preventing the spread of viruses, including the flu. This is a list of recommended practices published by the CDC. Moreover, due to the rapidly changing landscape of the disease, the university acknowledges the potential for quarantine in both its study away locations, and upon return to the university. In an abundance of caution, program leaders and students are receiving training for this scenario.
In the context of a very fluid and quickly evolving disease outbreak, the risk of contracting and spreading the disease, or facing prolonged quarantine, increases with travel. For this reason the Wang Center strongly recommends that program participants do not travel to cities or regions where COVID-19 is known to be present. Moreover, per PLU policy (see page 15 of Study Away Policies).
PLU students may not travel to locations with a CDC and/or US State Department risk-level of 3 or above. Up-to-date CDC Travel Health Notices, risk levels, and recommendations can be searched by country at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/. US State Department Advisories can be searched by country at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Italy.html.
Finally, PLU’s Health Center encourages all students and staff experiencing flu-like symptoms to see a health provider on site. As a reminder to students currently studying abroad, PLU’s 24/7 Europ Assistance travel insurance is available for a referral to medical care, mental health support, or regional travel advisories at:
- +1 240-330-1551 (if outside the U.S. or Canada)
- 855-901-6712 (if within the U.S. or Canada)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Additionally, students are encouraged to call upon the support of their Faculty Site-Director or program provider staff should they need support locating a provider and making an appointment.
Applications for summer, fall, and J-Term 2021 programs are open. Students are advised, however, that given the fluid and unpredictable nature of the outbreak, the university will continue to assess risk levels and may suspend and relocate programs if warranted. Should such a change take place, program participants will be notified promptly and informed of alternatives options if available.