COVID-19 & Other Health Emergencies Protocol for Study Away

Updated as of 9/26/2023

The Wang Center strives to protect the health and safety of its students, faculty, and host communities, and evaluates risks on a program-by-program basis. PLU requires student participants to be aware of the following expectations and adhere to them before, during, and after their programs.

Requirements of PLU Study Away Students

  • Study away students must follow PLU’s vaccine requirements. Students are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and receive all recommended booster(s), when eligible, at least 2 weeks prior to departure. Students must adhere to vaccination and/or booster requirements of host country(ies) and/or study away program providers.
  • Students are responsible for understanding the risks associated with their planned travel and asking for clarification when needed.
  • Students need to be prepared for the possibility of:
    • Delayed arrival to the host country/location in the event they test positive for COVID-19 and are permitted to join the program late after completing their isolation period. The Wang Center may be able to assist students with changed travel plans but there is no guarantee it will be possible for a student to join the program late.
    • Required quarantine/isolation for any amount of time upon arrival in the host country/location or at the direction of local health officials (consider costs, such as hotel and meals).
  • Students will need to:
    • Pack masks, at-home tests, and sanitizing equipment for personal use, as applicable.
    • Wear a mask in accordance with local guidelines.
    • Be aware of and abide by all local regulations, guidelines and codes of conduct of the program, host partner or institution.

Participants who are symptomatic and/or test positive for COVID-19 while away must follow isolation or other guidelines as determined by their host community.

Responsibilities of PLU

  • PLU assesses risk for each program at various intervals that may impact participants, the program, and the local community.
  • Based on identified risk factors, PLU created Risk Mitigation Plans for each program it operates, addressing risks with high likelihood and/or impact.
  • PLU creates Emergency Response Plans for each program it operates, outlining communication details in the event of an incident.

Pre-Departure FAQs for Accepted/Confirmed Students

Per PLU’s Student University-Sponsored International Travel Policy, in cases where a study away site is designated as a Level 3 or Level 4 by the U.S. Department of State, the Wang Center will build a risk assessment to be reviewed by the International Travel Risk Assessment and Advisory Task Force (ITRAATF). ITRAATF will make the final determination on whether PLU can responsibly support study away programs in that location. Risk assessments are developed with input from on-site program staff, to identify potential risks and evaluate their level of impact and likelihood using a 5-point scale. The primary focus of this risk mitigation strategy is to safeguard student well-being, academic continuity, and limit harm to the local community.

The Wang Center closely monitors the following standard points of reference when evaluating risk:

  • US Department of State Travel Advisories
  • CDC Travel Health Notices
  • OSAC: Country Security Reports
  • Crisis24 Risk Alerts

One the initial risk assessment is completed, program leaders develop site-specific plans for mitigating, transferring, or avoiding risk. By using this methodology, PLU can make informed decisions and students are provided with a clear depiction of the level of risk at their study away program location and are able to develop an understanding of PLU’s efforts to reduce relevant factors.

Students are expected to comply with all COVID-19 vaccine guidelines as announced by PLU.

Semester Study Away: Students should wait to book their flights until prompted to do so by the Wang Center and/or their program provider (if applicable). PLU is not liable to refund out of pocket flight expenses should a program be canceled.

J-Term Study Away: Flights will be booked by the Wang Center and information will be sent to accepted students approximately 1 month prior to departure.

Pacific Lutheran University reserves the right to cancel a program at any time. Should circumstances require that PLU cancel a program/class, students will be notified immediately.

J-Term Study Away

Yes, if PLU makes the decision to ultimately cancel a J-Term study away course, the program fee will be refunded to students. In the event that flight tickets have been issued, the unused flight credits will be included as part of the refund.

Semester Study Away

Programs canceled prior to the start date will be eligible for a full refund of the program fee. The timing and cause of the cancellation will determine the exact amount of the refund for programs canceled while in progress.

Semester Study Away: Depending on your citizenship and your chosen study away country, you may be required to obtain a student visa, residency permit or the like to study away in your chosen country. We recommend you check with your chosen program and/or host country prior to beginning the visa/residence permit process. Please note the visa application process takes time, so do not leave this task to the last minute. Some consulates may have limited working hours and appointments so it is important to be patient when waiting for updates. Be sure to check the consulate website to review application processes and timelines.

J-Term Study Away: Students typically do not need to apply for a student visa. The Wang Center will let students know if there are any entry requirements they need to know about.

We encourage you to purchase Cancel for Any Reason and Interruption (CFAR/IFAR) insurance plans. You should compare plans and ask questions to be sure the trip insurance policy you purchase covers your needs. Here is an FAQ about CFAR/IFAR policies and a place where you can search for them. Please note that PLU does not have a direct relationship with these sites and providers.

PLU will not be able to refund travel-related expenses due to a student’s inability to participate. For this reason, PLU strongly urges students to purchase Cancel and Interruption For Any Reason (CFAR/IFAR) insurance. 

Program support staff will be available to provide guidance.

Students are automatically covered for health, accident and/or emergency evacuation while away. Evacuation is covered only in the event of extreme or dire illness. Learn more about PLU’s international travel insurance coverage.

In addition, PLU strongly urges students to purchase Cancel and Interruption For Any Reason (CFAR/IFAR) insurance.

All PLU-sponsored study away programs will have designated quarantine/isolation spaces available for students throughout the duration of the program. Students should contact their program (Wang Center for Gateway and PLU short-term faculty-led courses, third party provider for Featured/Approved) for more details on quarantining/isolating in your host country/community.

Students participating in Gateway programs will have their initial arrival quarantine provided for them and paid for by PLU, if quarantine is required by the host country. If another quarantine is required at any other point during the program, and it requires additional cost, student participants must pay these expenses out of pocket. Students may consider seeking reimbursement by filing a Medical Trip Delay claim with PLU’s insurance provider, EIIA.  

Students participating in Featured or Approved programs must work with their program provider to determine who will pay for any expenses due to quarantine requirements. PLU will not pay for any quarantine related expenses for Featured or Approved program students.

If required by the host country for all visitors upon entry, students on short-term faculty-led programs will have their initial arrival quarantine paid for by PLU. If a student must quarantine or isolate for any other reason other than as an entry requirement or at any other point during the program, the student is responsible for any costs associated with quarantine or isolation.

Costs associated with COVID-19, including requirements to quarantine, changes to travel, etc. may not be covered by the university’s travel insurance.