Studying Abroad

COVID-19 Information from the Global Engagement Office (Updated Nov. 18, 2020)

Despite the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created, College of Wooster students remain interested in gaining new and global perspectives from off-campus study programs in both domestic and international locations. Also, the Global Engagement Office (GEO) remains committed to offer students a carefully chosen menu of rigorous and high-impact programs that promote academic, professional, and personal rewards in a safe environment. GEO also wishes to provide our students and their families with information and transparency as we continue to navigate new challenges. 

This page provides you with information on how the Global Engagement Office is responding to the pandemic and what students can expect in preparing for a Global Engagement Experience. Please contact Candace Chenoweth, Director of Global Engagement Office, at cchenoweth@wooster.edu, with any questions. 

The Informed Consent Process

Students wishing to study off-campus during both the fall 2020 and spring 2021 semester have been required to apply and be accepted to a viable program, and then to submit an “informed-consent petition” to the College. The “Informed Consent Petition” clearly outlines the risks associated with off-campus study during a pandemic, allows the students to acknowledge and accept those risks, and requires students to articulate their personal COVID-related safety plan. Petitions are reviewed by the Global Engagement Office’s Faculty Advisory Committee. The Committee forwards its recommendations to the Provost, which are then reviewed by Cabinet. Cabinet’s decisions are final, and the College reserves the right to suspend any programs later as deemed necessary to protect the health and safety of our students.

All students whose petitions are approved must also attend an informed consent meeting with the GEO director. Family members are invited to attend these meetings.

Students wishing to study off-campus during summer 2021 and fall 2021 may be required to go through this petition process.

Assessing GEO Programs during the Pandemic

The Global Engagement Office’s Faculty Advisory Committee utilizes information, metrics, and guidance from many sources to make informed health and safety recommendations. These sources include the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC), the World Health Organization, professional health and security organizations, our program providers, and information regarding COVID-19 provided by U.S. Embassies.

Host countries must meet the following criteria:  

  • U.S. Department of State’s Country-Specific Advisory Level: Level 3 or lower
  • Borders open to study abroad students
  • Ability to obtain student visas (if required for entry)      
  • Ability of pertinent embassies to offer services to their citizens
  • Availability of insurance coverage

The Global Engagement Office also assesses COVID-19 standards on each off-campus study program including: 

  • Level of on-site support
  • Student accommodations
  • Contingency protocols
  • Program planning around food safety, sanitation, and access to PPE 
  • Support and resources during a possible quarantine 
  • Social distancing practices within the academic setting 
  • Impact on local community
  • Academic continuity

Moving forward the Global Engagement Office will continue to assess operational programs based on these criteria.

Decision Dates for Summer and Fall 2021 Programs

The Global Engagement Office will do all we can to facilitate safe and rigorous off-campus study opportunities for future terms. GEO’s application deadline for summer and fall 2021 and spring 2022 applications is March 1, 2021. Prior to that deadline we will notify students about the petition process for summer and fall. Whether a petition will be required for spring 2022 will be determined at a later date. 

Should petitions be necessary, GEO anticipates’ decisions on petitions would be made around the following dates to facilitate our students need to plan and make travel arrangements:

Off-Campus Study Application Deadline: March 1, 2021
Anticipated Petition Decision Dates (as pertinent):
Term of Study Decision Date
Summer 2021 April 1, 2021
Fall 2021 June 1, 2021
Spring 2022 November 1, 2022

Please contact GEO if you have any questions.

Student Considerations Related to COVID-19

Students should anticipate that their off-campus study experience could be different than they may have originally imagined. For example:

  • Independent Travel: Independent travel outside of the city and/or country you are studying may be limited. Borders may be closed, quarantine measures may remain in place, and there may be sudden changes to countries' entry and exit requirements. You should not make plans for travel outside of your host country.
  • Quarantine: Your program may include a 2-week quarantine if required by your host country or if you or another program member are exposed to COVID-19.
  • Academic Experience: In response to COVID many programs and universities have implemented a hybrid online/in-person format, and it is not clear if such formats will remain the “new normal.” Also, there could be sudden changes to the academic format of a program and/or additional rules/restrictions could be implemented.
  • Program Excursions and Activities: Programs typically offer excursions or activities, and these may be more limited than in previous years. Excursions may be altered or canceled while you are on-site in respond to current health and government recommendations.

Students should be prepared to adapt to such changes!

Where can I find More Information Related to COVID-19 for Programs?

Students should review all safety and security information provided by their program provider and/or host institution. Each program page includes links to the program providers COVID-19 resources.