This document is intended solely as guidance and does not contain any mandatory requirements except where requirements found in statute or administrative rule are referenced. This guidance does not establish or affect legal rights or obligations and is not finally determinative of any of the issues addressed. This guidance does not create any rights enforceable by any party in litigation with the State of Wisconsin or the Board of Regents. Any decisions made by the Board of Regents in any matter addressed by this guidance will be made by applying the governing statutes and administrative rules to the relevant facts


Original Issuance Date:         September 18, 2020
Last Revision Date:                
September 18, 2020

1.     Purpose of Guidelines

The purpose of these guidelines is to provide additional considerations to student and professionals for studying abroad while accounting for COVID-19.

2.     Publishing Office(s)

UW System Office of Academic & Student Affairs

3.     Affected Stakeholders on Campus

These guidelines apply to students and professionals considering study abroad, as well as the offices that facilitate such opportunities.

4.     Primary Responsibility

UW System Office of Academic & Student Affairs is responsible for maintain and updating this guideline. The UW System institutions are responsible for reviewing this guideline.

5.     Guidelines

A. Considerations for Students

    1. Medical and Health – characterizes confidence in the capabilities and resources of the destination state and community to address and mitigate the direct impact of the disease itself.
      1. Review the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of State travel advisories and notices for the destination. Advisories and notices should support non-essential travel for the destination.
    2. The Environment – characterizes the condition of travel, infrastructure, and society, and the various indirect impacts of the disease on the host country and the manner in which its population views the risk.
      1. Consider the travel routes to and from the destination and review transfer airports are open and have precautionary measures are in place for travelers. Consider another route that may have less risk, even if it is inconvenient otherwise or is more expensive. Confirm that the travel country is allowing travelers to enter and not requiring a transit-visa or proof of testing showing negative COVID-19 free.
      2. Review any health considerations for your return to the U.S., such as quarantine, to understand what may be required upon your return.
      3. Consider any travel limitations that may be in effect for the duration of your program. Consider this for your own health and safety and also know some limitations may be enforced by local travel authorities.
      4. Are there in-country travel restrictions that may impact the cultural experience to a degree that undermines the program’s intended outcomes? Consider if there is required independent quarantine for the students, without the help and support of the host program.
      5. Consider how American students may experience resentment or harassment as part of general distrust in the wake of COVID-19.
    3.  Program Hosts – characterizes how third-party providers and direct-enroll partner institutions positioned to address the disease and its impact on the student circumstance
      1. Have providers and partner institutions created a local reentry plan that offers confidence that they are taking the risk seriously and have created a local living and learning environment conducive to mitigating disease risks? Is there on-site testing available or screening for students with symptoms each day?
      2. Consider the accommodations and classroom facilities and the precautions taken by the provider to ensure proper protocol is being followed.
      3. Should return travel be interrupted, what is the host able to provide for students should you have to remain in the location longer than planned.
      4. Consider instructional plans should the host alter the method of instruction.
      5. Is the host able to isolate exposed students comfortably and provide support for quarantine needs in the event of disease re-emergence?

 B. Consideration for Professionals

    1. Status of health care services in target country
      1. Number of COVID-19 cases and trending (growing, stable, or declining)
      2. Capacity of health care services in country to accommodate new health care needs/support
    2. Department of State Travel Warning Level
      1. Review the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of State travel advisories and notices for the destination. Advisories and notices should support non-essential travel for the destination.
      2. Monitor safety in the country and official Department of State warnings that could impact the program itinerary and/or viability. Consult with local authorities in the target country, as appropriate.
    3. COVID-19 Precautions
      1. Determine and document to share with student participants what measures the target country has in place for health and safety protections (i.e. social distancing, mask requirements, quarantine procedures, and other best practices)
      2. Determine whether testing upon arrival is possible (will insurance cover proactive COVID-19 testing?) and whether there is the capacity to test if someone becomes symptomatic and the entire group needs to be tested.
    4.  Travel Routing
      1. Review and confirm that transfer airports are open and have precautionary measures in place for safe transfer of passengers.
      2. Confirm that the target country is allowing visitors to enter and any entry requirements (such as proof of COVID-19 free health) and whether this can be achieved. If quarantine upon arrival is required, consult with international education staff whether this can be achieved within the academic/logistical goals of the program.
      3. Consider policies and practices regarding personal student travel prior to and during the program to mitigate exposure and risk. Discuss approach to discuss risks with student participants as part of program orientation.
    5.  In-Country Restrictions
      1. Identify any in-country travel restrictions or other considerations that could impact the program schedule and mobility. Consult with international education staff regarding modifications and considerations and messaging to student participants.
      2. Investigate any in-country attitudes or possible tensions related to US citizens and the US response and discuss with international education staff what to share at program orientation and how to support students while abroad if they experience any discrimination/tension.
      3. For programs that have internships, investigate and consider how to sensitize students regarding the local culture and apprehensions regarding COVID-19 and foreigners and how to respond to criticisms/concerns about US approach to COVID-19 precautions.
    6.  Program Hosts
      1. Clarify safety and health measures that the host site/housing location will be taking to protect clients/residents/host students and what their policy is regarding a possible COVID-19 case. Discuss with international education staff what policies are in place at the overseas site and whether there are any concerns with using that site.
      2. For hosting institutions/exchange partners, clarify policies if a student needs medical care and support.
      3. Confirm whether host is able to provide lodging if the scheduled return is not possible. Demonstrate a plan for possible delayed return and what housing would be secured.
      4. Clarify if the host site will be providing an orientation to arriving students regarding health and safety measures related to COVID-19 and the local environment. Discuss with international education office how to convey this to student participants during program predeparture orientation.
      5. Clarify instructional plans if institution needs to alter its intended mode of instruction and how that might impact planned credits/courses that our students are scheduled to complete.
    7.  Program Return
      1. Confirm any health return requirements/precautions (such as quarantine) to share with students prior to end of program. Discuss any next steps with international education staff on appropriate messaging to students.
      2. Consider re-entry activity/debriefing with international education staff to help students process their experiences.

6.     Contact

UW System Office of Academic and Student Affairs

7.     Guideline History

Original Issuance: September 18, 2020

8.     Scheduled Review

September 2023