COVID-19 & Other Health Emergencies Protocol for Study Away

Updated as of 9/23/2022

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, along with the emergence of Monkeypox, the Wang Center strives to protect the health and safety of its students, faculty, and host communities. Due to a variety of factors impacting COVID-19 prevalence and regulations throughout the world, specifically in locations where PLU operates study away programs, the Wang Center evaluates risks on a program-by-program basis. 

Above all, it is imperative that students abide by local laws, guidelines, and procedures related to COVID-19 risk mitigation. 

Below are the responsibilities of student participants, PLU, and affiliated program providers for reducing the risk of COVID-19. PLU requires student participants to be aware of these expectations and adhere to them before, during, and after their programs. 

Requirements of PLU Study Away Students

Before departing:

  • Students are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. Students are strongly encouraged to receive all recommended booster(s), when eligible, at least 2 weeks prior to departure. Students must also adhere to vaccination and/or booster requirements of host country(ies) and/or study away program providers. 
  • All students must self-monitor their health 14 days prior to arrival for COVID-19 symptoms. 
  • At this time, since students will be fully vaccinated at time of departure, students do not need to obtain a viral COVID test before departure (unless required by the host country/location).
  • Students must complete all pre-departure requirements (for both PLU and the provider) by the posted due dates.
  • Students need to maintain communication with PLU; PLU will contact students via their PLU email, and students are expected to respond in a timely fashion. 
  • Before departing, students are required to sign an Acknowledgement of Informed Consent Waiver that explains the risks of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the student’s responsibility to understand these risks and ask 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 and are able to produce a negative test result or medical statement of recovery. 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. 
    • Early departure, including the costs for return transportation
    • 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) 
    • Quarantine upon return 
  • Students will need to pack appropriate masks and sanitizing equipment for personal use.

Upon arrival:

  • As fully vaccinated individuals, students do not need to quarantine upon arrival (unless required by the host country).
  • Follow all local recommendations or requirements after travel.

While traveling and in-country / at the study away location:

  • Maintain a personal supply for required items, such as masks, sanitizing equipment, etc. as described during the pre-departure and on-site orientations. 
  • Wear a mask in accordance with local guidelines. 
  • Maintain physical distancing.
  • Practice good hygiene.
  • Given the unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not possible to foresee all that may or may not take place, and students who participate in a 22-23 study away program must be prepared to be flexible. 
  • Understand that COVID-19 protocols may be different while away than on campus. 
  • 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:

  • Isolate. Isolation is used to separate people infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected. Isolation includes: staying home and separating yourself from other people. 
  • Contact Trace. Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. See definition of close contact
  • Clean daily all “high-touch” surfaces.

As fully vaccinated individuals, according to the CDC, students do not need to quarantine if they’ve had close contact with someone with COVID-19, unless they are showing COVID-19 symptoms. 

Before returning to the US:

  • As of June 12, 2022, all air passengers are no longer required to show a negative viral COVID-19 test result, or documentation of recovery from COVID-19, before boarding a flight to the United States. Visit the CDC website for details and updates regarding this requirement.

After returning to the US:

As fully vaccinated individuals, students should:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel.
  • Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
  • Follow all state and local recommendations or requirements after travel.

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 creates mitigation plans 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. 
  • COVID-19 risk mitigation efforts:
    • The Wang Center conducts COVID-19 training for traveling and on-site faculty/staff for PLU faculty-led programs.
    • Prior to departure, the Wang Center delivers training for students on COVID-19 expectations and protocols. 
    • The Wang Center verifies that mitigation plans for identified risks are addressed by program providers prior to determining whether a program is supported or not by PLU. 
    • The Wang Center confirms that study away students have been fully vaccinated prior to their departure.

Responsibilities of Program Providers (Featured and Approved Programs)

  • Maintain up-to-date health, safety, and risk mitigation plans based on standard points of reference for international travel guidance, in addition to local guidelines and expertise. 
  • Conduct pre-departure training for participants, which covers expectations and conditions specific to the program and its location.
  • Respond to requests, at any time, for information on how students are prepared.
  • Conduct on-site orientation which includes: healthcare access, local guidelines, and program expectations.
  • Maintain an academic continuity plan which would allow participants to continue regular coursework in the situation that restrictions are put in place and/or isolation is required. 
  • Locate designated places for student isolation should quarantine be necessary, including meals.

Pre-Departure FAQs for Accepted/Confirmed Students

PLU will know if study away programs are expected to run for Spring 2023 by October 1st. (This is often referred to as the “Call Date”) Students will be notified by email of this decision.  Call dates for other programs in the the 2022-23 academic year have been:  Summer 2022 programs by May 1st, Fall 2022 programs by June 1st, J-Term 2023 programs by August 15th.

PLU’s risk assessment plan guides Wang Center staff and study away program leaders, 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, including US Department of State Country Specific COVID-19 Information pages
  • CDC Travel Health Notices, including CDC COVID-19 Travel Recommendations by Destination
  • OSAC: Country Security Reports
  • GardaWorld Global Travel Security Risk Map
  • WHO: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard
  • Our World in Data – COVID-19

Once 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. 

In all cases of student withdrawal, the application fee is non-refundable.

Students choosing to withdraw after the stated PLU Confirmation Deadline will incur a $600 cancellation fee AND will be responsible for any costs incurred on their behalf. Students will be notified in Terra Dotta of this Confirmation Deadline date.

J-Term students who withdraw after December 1, 2022 will be responsible for the full program fee.

Semester students who withdraw their participation after the program start date are responsible for the full program fee. Depending on the time of the semester, academic penalties may also be incurred.

For additional details regarding the withdrawal policy, students should refer to the Study Away Policies document.

Yes, all study away students will be required to show proof of vaccination prior to beginning their academic program. This study away requirement has been in effect since Summer 2021.

As of January 2022, students are also required to get a COVID-19 booster within 14 days of their eligibility. 

Students are expected to comply with any future 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: Flight information varies by program and details will be sent by the Wang Center to accepted students.

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. 

Students should consider quarantine before departure for their study away program to reduce the risk of a positive test inhibiting travel. Visit the CDC website for pre-travel considerations.

Response to illness and a positive COVID-19 test will be similar to what happens at home. Students must isolate, trace recent contacts, and clean. Program support staff will be available to provide guidance.

See section on ‘Requirements of PLU Study Away Students’ for a more thorough explanation. 

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.

The Wang Center discourages weekend or personal trips that leave your host country/study away location, as you could unwittingly be caught in rapidly changing travel restrictions including quarantine and COVID-19 testing. Your chosen study away program may prohibit travel during free time or weekends outside of your host city, region or country. Additionally, it is important to note that your chosen study away program is not required to offer academic accommodations should you need to quarantine as a result of personal travel outside of your host city or country and/or to a high-risk location. This means you may not be able to make up assignments, exams, or class participation while in quarantine and in turn, your grades may be impacted.

Students participating in a PLU Gateway program should review the location-specific COVID-19 health and safety protocols for additional information. Students on Featured or Approved programs should contact the provider directly for more information.

Ultimately, students should refer to their individual program about visitor protocol. However, the PLU Wang Center discourages hosting visitors from outside of the host community due to possible COVID-19 transmission, which could result in possibly harming the student, their fellow student peers, program activities, and the wellbeing of the host community.

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, 3rd party provider for Featured/Approved) for more details on quarantining in your host country.

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 may have their initial arrival quarantine provided and paid for them, depending on the program. Students 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.

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

Students should follow guidance from the CDC to help protect themselves and others. In addition, COVID-19 protocols will be in place for each student’s study away program and host country/location to prevent the spread of the virus. Students should heed the advice and recommendations of program and local officials, as well as the CDC.

Students participating in a PLU Gateway program should review the location-specific COVID-19 health and safety protocols for additional information. Students on Featured or Approved programs should contact the program directly for more information.

The Wang Center will continue to monitor the international response to Monkeypox as it evolves.  We encourage students to educate themselves and reach out to their healthcare provider if they have any questions.

PLU’s Health Center will publish information as it becomes available on the following page: