I am writing to give you an update regarding your travel abroad. The University of Iowa believes that the spread of COVID-19 poses a threat to your health and safety and, in conjunction with the Board of Regents, has decided to recall all UI faculty, staff, and students abroad. We strongly urge you to leave immediately. Flight availability may diminish in the coming days; do not delay in making the swiftest possible departure arrangement. There is the potential for more restrictive quarantine measures during enhanced screening on arrival at U.S. ports of entry.
Visit the for the latest travel restrictions to the U.S, visit www.dhs.gov.
Our approach has been to monitor the increase in confirmed cases and then use our best judgment when determining whether or not to recall students.
The CDC has now:
- raised the risk assessment for much of Europe (all Schengen countries) to a warning level of 3 (the standard normally used to recall students)
- raised the risk assessment to a level of 2 for all other locations worldwide
- advised institutions of higher learning to consider cancelling its study abroad programs: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/student-foreign-travel.html.
The U.S. Department of State has now:
- issued a level 3 global travel health advisory to reconsider travel, which states “Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.” See travel.state.gov.
These risk indicators combined have prompted a decision to safeguard students worldwide.
Here are actions you should take now.
Airline Ticket Changes
- Contact your travel agent or airline now to request a ticket change so you can return to the U.S. immediately. Many airlines will currently waive ticket change fees under these circumstances to facilitate swift departure. Bear in mind that multiple travelers will be seeking ticket changes, and demand for seats may intensify in the coming days. It is also likely that risks will expand to other locations worldwide, complicating travel plans and limiting travel options.
- If your change fee is not waived by your airline, your program provider may cover all or part of those fees. The UI will assist with reimbursement of ticket change fees up to $500 if you are changing your ticket to return to the U.S. and your provider is not doing so. Any change fees incurred beyond $500 may be considered for reimbursement on a case-by-case basis. Please submit an itemized receipt for any ticket change fees beyond what is covered by your program to Mary Paterson (firstname.lastname@example.org) after your return. Your study abroad advisor can also be contacted if you require financial assistance in order to change your ticket.
- Inform your study abroad advisor or UI point of contact of your return travel plans once they are in place.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security website for the latest travel restrictions to the U.S.
- Visit each U.S. Embassy website for travel information in other countries, including entry, exit and any applicable quarantine guidance.
- Visit the Iowa Department of Public Health website “travelers” section for the most updated list of locations requiring self-isolation: idph.iowa.gov/Emerging-Health-Issues/Novel-Coronavirus. The university, in conjunction with the Iowa Department of Public Health, is asking students returning from or through certain countries to self-isolate upon return to the U.S. if monitored quarantine is not arranged to ensure your wellbeing at your port of entry. The CDC provides general information on returning from high-risk countries here: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/after-travel-precautions.html.
Personal Health Monitoring
- Contact UI Student Health with questions regarding self-isolation or other health concerns: studenthealth.uiowa.edu, email@example.com.
- Review and follow the CDC guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.
- The University of Iowa does not support any option that involves a continued stay abroad at this time.
- When you depart, you may have unanswered questions regarding the academic and financial consequences of an early return home. The university is committed to helping you find answers to those questions after you return home. If you anticipate any loss of credit due to your early return, please contact your study abroad adviser to discuss that potential impact once you are home.
- For additional questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Monitor the CDC and Department of State travel advisory websites for updates (links above).
- If you are a U.S. citizen, register your independent travel plans with the U.S. Department of State through the "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program" (STEP) so you can be easily contacted if there are updates for U.S. citizen travelers. Citizens of other countries may contact the embassy of their country of citizenship to inquire about similar services.
- If you have an emergency while abroad that requires University of Iowa assistance, contact the 24/7 Emergency Cell number for UI International Travelers: +1-319-530-2540.
A copy of this email has also been sent to the person listed as your emergency contact if you provided one.
Again, please know that our first priority is maintaining your health and well-being, and we are here to help as needed.
Associate Provost and Dean of International Programs
University of Iowa