CEA CAPA Programs During COVID-19: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

CEA CAPA’s number one priority is the health, safety, and security of its students, staff, and faculty. Our practices and policies are grounded in established standards within the international education field, and we actively participate in professional organizations that help shape the future of health and safety standards in education abroad. By actively monitoring credible reports and data published by reputable sources, we are better able to make informed decisions that prioritize the well-being of our students and the community in locations where we operate. For more information, check out our Safety, Health & Wellness page, or contact our Health and Safety Team.

Pre-Departure Advising & Orientation

CAPA offers comprehensive pre-departure advising for all programs. In addition, students studying on in-country programs will have to complete a series of required pre-departure webinars and videos on topics including arrival, health and safety, housing, the CAPA Center experience, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In addition to the mandatory pre-departure webinars and videos, students will be required to complete modules through CAPA’s Canvas Learning Management System. Each module will share vital information and have a required quiz at the end. By using a pre-departure, module-based approach, students will be able to learn critical details about their program at their own pace and in advance of arriving overseas. Plus, students will be able to refer back to the modules at any time prior to departure and while abroad. Please note that students will be required to complete all of the modules prior to the release of housing and internship placement details.

Once abroad, additional in-country orientation will be provided in key areas such as health and safety—including COVID-19 guidelines and the CAPA Guardian Health & Safety app—academics, internships, and programming.  

Has CEA CAPA run study abroad programs during a pandemic or public health emergency?

Yes! We have successfully welcomed students abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic since the Spring ’21 term.

CEA CAPA’s academics and curricula are designed to emphasize experiential learning and we incorporate activities to help students connect their experiences outside the classroom with the content they learn in class. While this seems like a daunting task in the midst of a pandemic, we accomplished this starting with our Spring 2021 programs and have since continued to welcome students on programs abroad. Through respecting the guidance of local authorities on protective measures as well as adhering to our own unique Pandemic and Public Health Concern Guidelines, CEA CAPA continues to provide outstanding experiences for our students in and out of the classroom.

How does CEA CAPA determine whether a program should continue or be suspended?

CEA CAPA has a team of dedicated individuals who regularly monitor and review local conditions relating to health, safety, and security, including public health concerns in our program locations. We utilize a vast network of resources including but not limited to: U.S. Department of State, U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Overseas Security Advisory Counsel, World Health Organization, allied foreign government travel advice, U.S. and international health organizations, PULSE, and insurance and third-party security intelligence reports. Our onsite staff, local partners, and networks are invaluable resources, and we depend on their first-hand knowledge and experience to help guide our decision-making processes.

CEA CAPA pledges to continue prioritizing student health, safety, and well-being, while never compromising the academic quality of programs. We approach each situation cautiously and uniquely to critically assess the best course of action for our students and institutional partners. This approach is crucial in times like these when we must balance student well-being with providing the academic quality students, families, and our institutional partners have come to expect from CEA CAPA.

Does CEA CAPA have any special guidelines or protocols in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

CEA CAPA developed extensive COVID-19 protocols and best practices to provide staff, students, and faculty with a flexible framework of guidance to reduce the risk of contagion, promote safe practices, and respond effectively to the continuously changing COVID-19 environment.

We defer to the requirements of local authorities regarding COVID-19 guidelines and/or restrictions. We reserve the right to implement stricter COVID-19 protective measures during program courses or activities to safeguard the health and wellness of our students, staff, and faculty.

What if the U.S. Department of State elevates my program country risk level to the highest warning level?

We understand that many U.S. institutions do not allow students to study abroad in a country where the U.S. Department of State has issued a Level 3 or 4 travel warning due to COVID-19 or other reasons. We encourage students to check in with their home institution immediately should this occur before or during your program.

For CEA CAPA, the U.S. Department of State travel advisories are one resource amongst many that we consult to make well-informed decisions regarding abroad programming. They are not the determining factor in whether or not we will make adjustments to our programming. CEA CAPA pledges to continue prioritizing student health, safety, and well-being, while never compromising the academic quality of programs. We approach each situation cautiously and uniquely to critically assess the best course of action for our students and institutional partners.

Will CEA CAPA require the COVID-19 vaccine to study abroad?

Even as program destinations have listed COVID-19 protocols, we believe being up to date on the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters will help safeguard the health and wellness of CEA CAPA participants, faculty, and onsite team members, as well as show respect and support for the wellbeing of the communities in which we operate programs.

Starting with programs beginning on or after May 1, 2023, CEA CAPA is strongly recommending all participants be up to date on the COVID-19 vaccination and recommended booster doses prior to going abroad.

All participants are responsible for knowing and adhering to the COVID-19 vaccine and booster requirements of their program location and host institution (if applicable). Should a program destination or host institution change its vaccination policies, students may have to adhere to those policies.

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and booster, check out the following websites:

Where can I obtain a new copy of my CDC card?

If your CDC card has been lost, stolen, or destroyed, you may obtain a new card by contacting the provider who administered your vaccine or booster. If you are unable to get a new CDC card, we may accept a copy of an official vaccination record from your state health department or medical provider or a digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record. Please note that local authorities in your program destination may not recognize anything other than a CDC card as an official vaccination document. We strongly encourage you to get an updated CDC card before departing for your program.

Will I need a COVID-19 Pass in my program country?

Over the course of the pandemic, many countries have at some point required a Covid Pass (called a Super Green Pass, Health Pass, or Vaccine Pass, depending on the country) to participate in most daily activities like academic classes, dining, shopping, visiting cultural and tourist attractions, attending outdoor concerts or sporting events, or traveling by bus or train to a different city. Requirements vary by program destination and most countries have lifted their COVID-19 Pass requirements.

Local governments reserve the right to reinstate their requirements if necessary as the pandemic evolves. If your destination requires a COVID-19 Pass while you are abroad, one of the following may typically apply:

  • Valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination and/or recommended booster dose(s) (i.e., a vaccination card issued by the CDC), or
  • Negative COVID-19 test results (taken within the past 24-48 hours of entering the establishment or venue; the cost of the tests are expensive and they are the participant’s responsibility), or
  • Medical documentation showing you have recovered from COVID-19 within 180 days of entering the establishment or venue.

We strongly encourage you to take your original CDC card with you abroad in case regulations change while you are abroad.

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot in my program location?

In most countries, only citizens or permanent residents of that country are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination or booster shot, therefore we recommend being up to date on your COVID-19 vaccine and booster(s) before departing for your program.

Do I have to wear a mask or follow protective measures?

All students, faculty, and staff are expected to respect and comply with any and all requirements they may encounter while abroad to reduce the spread of COVID-19 or other viruses. Even if masks are not required, we strongly recommend that you wear a mask, wash your hands frequently, and follow other best practices to protect your health.

Students are required to sign a COVID-19 Informed Consent Form to confirm they understand all of their responsibilities, before participating on a CEA CAPA program.

What COVID-19 preparations should I consider before I leave for my program?

COVID-19 affects individuals differently. Before leaving for your study abroad program, take inventory of your health and well-being. Talk with your doctors and family and complete the required health information form requested. We strongly recommend that you are fully vaccinated and up to date with an eligible booster dose(s) for COVID-19.

The pandemic has affected every country differently. Local authorities have specific guidelines and requirements that pertain specifically to that country. It is very important to research your destination to understand what the requirements are, what protective measures are in place, whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine exemption is permitted, and how to best care for yourself abroad. A great place to start is the U.S. State Department’s country-specific pages.

Are there any specific COVID-19 entry requirements for my program destination?

In some destinations, international travelers may still be required to show proof of vaccination status or negative COVID-test result or even quarantine upon arrival to their host country. It is imperative that you research your destination to find out the most up-to-date arrival and quarantine guidelines as they change frequently. It is your responsibility to familiarize yourself with any travel requirements for your destination. The U.S. State Department provides detailed information about entry requirements, and you can always contact your CEA CAPA Enrollment Advisor or Site Specialist for more information.

How is CEA CAPA handling any applicable government-mandated quarantines on arrival?

Regulations set by local governments can change at any time and thus it is not possible to predict whether a quarantine will be required for any specific location. As of January 2023, no quarantines are required upon arrival at any CEA CAPA program destination. If quarantine is mandated for the arrival period, we will notify students immediately with the next steps.

Can I travel outside of my program country once I am abroad?

You are free to travel during the program term, but if you choose to travel outside of your program country, we strongly encourage you to do plenty of research and take extra precautions with your travel plans due to possible complications from COVID-19. We have witnessed governments rapidly change their COVID-19 preventative measures in light of spikes in COVID-19 cases, and you could possibly get stuck outside of your program country. Should this happen, you may miss a significant amount of your program or internship. If you decide to travel, you will need to check in your travel with our onsite team members so we can contact you in case of emergency. We also recommend reviewing the U.S. Department of State information for the destinations you plan to visit and sign-up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine, CEA CAPA prohibits travel to Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.

How can I best protect myself and others during my program?

We encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider to discuss your unique health situation and how that may be affected by COVID-19 or other health concerns. In addition, we recommend that you research and follow local guidance regarding COVID-19 protective measures to protect yourself and others. The Center for Disease Control provides a lot of information on how to best do this. In addition, CEA CAPA strongly encourages you to:

  • Be fully vaccinated and up to date on any CDC-recommended boosters before you leave for your program. 
  • Employ good hygiene practices, wash your hands frequently, and pack a small supply of masks and hand sanitizer  
  • Inform onsite staff immediately upon possible COVID-19 exposure or if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and self-isolate until you receive test results.
  • Check out the following websites for more information on COVID-19 safety tips:

Does CEA CAPA have special self-isolation or quarantine housing available?

We have adopted the “family unit” or “family bubble” practice in the event that a student is exposed to or tests positive for COVID-19. This means that if one student in a housing unit tests positive for COVID-19, all students in that housing unit may need to get tested and/or self-isolate for a designated number of days, depending upon current guidance.

All participants will also remain in their program housing in accordance with local guidelines if they or a member of their household tests positive for COVID-19. What happens if I am exposed to or contract COVID-19 abroad?

During your program orientation, CEA CAPA staff will discuss in detail the steps you should take if you are exposed to or test positive for COVID-19 during your program. Generally speaking, we recommend that you follow these steps:

  • Immediately inform onsite staff for local guidance and testing locations. Provide names of other program students, faculty, or staff with whom you have had close contact for contact tracing purposes.
  • If you are having difficulty breathing or other health complications, seek medical attention immediately. Onsite staff can help you find medical care in your program location.
  • Self-isolate in your housing until you can get tested and receive your results. If you test positive, you may be required to quarantine for a specific number of days.
  • Contact your family or emergency contact to inform them.
  • If you are living with other students, wear a mask and socially distance yourself in common areas of your housing.
  • Contact your CEA CAPA program staff with any questions, concerns, or other information. We are here to support you!

Will CEA CAPA facilitate the testing of students or contact tracing during the program?

We will not be actively testing students for COVID-19 during the abroad program unless required by the local government. If a student, staff, or faculty member tests positive for COVID-19, we will do our best to identify and notify close contacts so they can monitor their personal health.

Does insurance cover the cost of COVID-19 tests and treatment?

CEA CAPA partners with CISI to provide student travel health insurance coverage for all program students abroad during their program or internship term. This insurance is a reimbursement-style plan that includes medical coverage for COVID-19, up to plan limits. If you have specific questions about the COVID-19 coverage under the CISI plan, we recommend that you contact CISI directly for more information.

If you have been exposed to COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, a COVID-19 test may be covered under the insurance plan. You will need to pay for the test up front, then you submit your receipt with a claim form to CISI for reimbursement. Keep in mind that COVID-19 tests required for travel or in-country COVID-19 Pass requirements are not covered under the CISI policy.

Should you require hospitalization due to COVID-19 or other medical concerns while abroad, CEA CAPA and CISI work closely with AXA Travel Assistance to support you and ensure you receive proper medical treatment without any out-of-pocket expense. If needed, they may arrange for a transfer, follow-up care, or medical evacuation home for continued treatment as recommended.

The CISI policy includes a small benefit for quarantine, trip delay, and trip interruption. If you test positive for COVID-19 at the end of your program and need to quarantine as a result, you may file a claim with CISI for possible reimbursement of certain quarantine expenses.

What COVID-19 protocols will exist at my internship location?

To reduce the risk of the spread of the virus within internship sites, internship students and the internship host will both review and adhere to the terms and conditions set out within the Learning Agreement Document which outlines the following:

  • The site’s responsibility is to ensure that the intern is fully aware of health and safety regulations and protocols at the site.
  • The site’s responsibility to follow all local government guidance related to COVID-19 within the work environment (e.g., social distancing, workplace hygiene, staggered working hours, face coverings, etc.) that is in place at any time.
  • The students’ responsibility is to observe and adhere to all workplace protocols, company guidelines, and local governmental legislation.

Dealing with COVID-19 has been very challenging for me this year. Are there mental health support services available abroad?

It has been challenging living through a global pandemic, and you are not alone! Increased numbers of college students have reported experiencing depression or anxiety as a result of stressors related to COVID-19. While studying abroad may provide a welcomed change of scenery, it will be important to prioritize your mental health and continue any treatment you currently receive. Be sure to speak with your mental health provider about your study abroad plans before you depart.

Mental health support services may be available in your study abroad location, either in person or virtually. Where mental health services are not available, we may be able to arrange online counseling or therapy with select providers through our student travel health insurance company, CISI. If you would like assistance arranging for services while abroad, please indicate this on your Required Health Information form or feel free to reach out to your Enrollment Advisor or Site Specialist for more information.

What do I have to do to return home at the end of my onsite program?

The U.S. CDC no longer requires most travelers entering the United States by plane to show a negative COVID-19 test or document of recovery before boarding a plane. Travelers are recommended to have a COVID-19 test within 3 days of travel to avoid traveling with an active case of COVID-19, but this is not mandated. You can read more about the CDC’s travel guidance here.

If you are returning home to a country other than the United States, we recommend that you review the re-entry requirements on your home country’s embassy website.

Be sure to check with your airline for any other information you may need to board your flight to return home or the country of your final destination.

CEA CAPA staff are available to provide you with a list of local testing centers and labs where a recommended pre-travel test can be obtained. You will be responsible for paying for the cost of this test, as it will not be covered by the CISI student insurance.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19 at the end of my program and have to quarantine?

To protect fellow travelers and reduce the spread of COVID-19, CEA CAPA strongly advises that you do not fly home if you test positive for COVID-19 in the days leading up to the end of your program. CEA CAPA recommends that you self-isolate for at least 5 days or until you receive a negative test, or according to local guidance before resuming your travel plans.

As the CEA CAPA program will have already ended, you will be responsible for securing accommodations at your own expense. If you need assistance in finding where to obtain a COVID-19 test or accommodation recommendations for your self-isolation period, CEA CAPA staff may be available to assist you. We partner with CISI to provide student travel health insurance coverage for all program students abroad during the official dates of their program or internship. The CISI policy includes small quarantine and trip delay benefits which may apply, depending on your circumstances and current regulations in your program location.

Where can I find more information about COVID-19?

We have found the following websites to be helpful and informative regarding multiple aspects of COVID-19. If you have other questions or concerns, please reach out to your CEA CAPA representative. We are happy to help you navigate COVID-19 and study abroad.

What are the withdrawal deadlines for in-country programs?

Cancellations Penalties:
  • 70-61 days prior to the program start date: No financial penalty to cancel for any reason, except for $500 for those participating in an internship
  • 60-46 days prior to the program start date: 25% of the total program fee + $500 for those participating in an internship
  • 45-21 days prior to the program start date: 50% of the total program fee + $500 for those participating in an internship
  • 21 days or fewer prior to the program start date: 100% of the total program fee