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COVID-19 Updates for SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute
World Learning, Inc., and its family of programs — including School for International Training (SIT) and The Experiment in International Living (The Experiment) — are committed to prompt communications with all stakeholders impacted by the spread of COVID-19. Our teams and programs have been in close and frequent contact with students, parents, advisors, partner institutions, and others to inform them of changes necessitated by this situation. We will continue to directly communicate timely, relevant updates to them as needed. We will also continue to use and operationalize all resources at our disposal in our efforts to keep our constituents safe.
The safety and security of World Learning / SIT students, faculty, and staff are of paramount importance in this situation, and any action we take is with that concern foremost in our minds. World Learning is committed to meeting all situations head-on and taking all appropriate action to mitigate risk. Our priorities are to:
- Ensure the safety, security and well-being of students, program participants, faculty and staff;
- Uphold the values and mission of World Learning;
- Maintain normal operations of the organization globally to the extent that it is safely possible to do so.
For questions regarding SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute, please call 802.258.3212 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions regarding The Experiment, please call 800.345.2929 or write to email@example.com
Relevant World Learning/SIT Policies
- SIT Updated Risk and Safety Message for Undergraduate Students
- COVID-19 Risk Management Protocols
- SIT Program Protection
SIT/World Learning COVID-19 Response FAQs
* Please note the asterisk denotes questions specifically intended for SIT Study Abroad students.
PROSPECTIVE AND ENROLLING SIT STUDY ABROAD STUDENTS*
How does SIT decide where it is safe to run programs?
Our Risk Assessment Committee conduct daily assessments of the status of the virus and related travel restrictions for all the countries we operate programming in. Around the clock, we monitor the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. State Department, International SOS, and local health advisories and government communiques.
We rely on a variety of sources for actual or potential risk to students and staff, including the U.S. State Department travel advisories, daily Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) news summaries, International SOS and AIG risk alerts, Centers for Disease Control information, TRAVEX, local health ministries and other government sources, as well as global and local news sources. We also rely on our staff teams on the ground to provide proactive updates about issues of concern and potential impact to our students and site. Our staff, in turn, rely on local program networks, including local authorities, U.S. embassy services, and informal sources.
For more information about COVID-19 risk assessment please see our SIT Health and Safety Update In Response to COVID-19, and our Policy on Programs and Travel in Elevated Risk Locations.
If I decide I am not comfortable traveling can I withdraw before the start of my program?*
As we continue to observe the unfolding global health crisis, for student who opt to withdraw or defer prior to their program’s start date, during this time all $400 deposits can be refunded prior to program start dates for SIT winter, spring, summer or fall programs. Programs that carry a $2,500 deposit will follow our regular deposit refund policy for withdrawals. For programs with $2,500 deposits, enrolled students who withdraw prior to 90 days before the start of the program forfeit one-half of the acceptance deposit ($1,250). After that time, no refunds of the $2,500 acceptance deposit will be given.
Students who withdraw or defer prior to the start of their program for any reason will receive a refund on their tuition, room and board payments, less non-refundable $50 application fee.
Foreign consulates may require students to have a ticket /reservation/ proof of flight itinerary as part of their visa application process. SIT encourages students to consider travel insurance and carrier refund policies when booking flights.
Alternatively, if you chose to defer your enrollment to a future term, your $50 application fee and non-refundable enrollment deposit will be credited to your new application, however deferrals from program with a $2500 deposit will follow the deposit refund schedule outlined above. If you decide to defer your application to a future term, you will be required to submit updated transcripts and home college/university approval forms.
What if my program gets canceled prior to the start date?*
If we do make the difficult decision to modify or suspend any SIT program prior to departure, with the support of your home college/university, we will work with you to find another program that fits your interests. If we suspend a program prior to departure and you don’t enroll in another program for that term, we will refund all direct payment to SIT, less your non-refundable $50 application fee.
What if my program is altered or suspended during my enrollment?*
If we decide that a program cannot continue in its current location, an alternative would be sought that allows students to maintain their enrollment for the semester and avoid disruption to their academic trajectory, either by moving the program, offering students the opportunity to continue their studies on another SIT program or complete coursework online. When considering moving the program location or transferring students, SIT often covers all related transitional expenses. If a student decides to discontinue enrollment on their own accord, the voluntary withdrawal refund procedures would apply. Regarding federal and state financial aid, private loans, foundation sponsored or institutional grants and scholarships, students should check with their home school financial aid office for specific information.
Should I purchase flights and trip insurance?
As you book your flights, we encourage you to purchase Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) 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 policies and a place where you can search for them. Please note that SIT does not have a direct relationship with these sites and providers.
Some countries may also restrict flights entering from countries with level 3 or 4 travel warnings. Students should review their itineraries to ensure their destination is currently accepting arrivals from the countries on your purchased flight itinerary. If you have questions, please consult your SIT Admissions Counselor at 1-800-272-7881 inside the U.S. or 1-802-258-3212 outside the U.S. to review any questions related to your travel plans as you prepare to book travel.
I’m an international student. Should I be worried about my visa being denied or not being allowed into the program country(s) or out of my country of residence?*
If a student who resides outside of the U.S. is unable to participate in one of our programs, either in the U.S. or abroad, because their government prohibits them from leaving their home country or because the program host country government prohibits them from entering, SIT will refund all monies paid directly to SIT. If there is still a perceived concern 30 days prior to departure, please call our Admissions Office at 1-800-272-7881 inside the U.S. or 1-802-258-3212 outside the U.S. and we can work together to decide how best to proceed.
What can I expect from SIT as my program approaches?
Given this dynamic situation, we will be in close communication with enrolling students as we plan for the coming semesters. Contact our Admissions Office at 1-800-272-7881 inside the U.S. or 1-802-258-3212 outside the U.S. or firstname.lastname@example.org We would be glad to answer your questions.
CDC’s education and outreach materials available in English and Spanish can be found here.
To access advisories through the U.S. Department of State, please reference this page.
Can I independently travel during weekends while on an SIT program?
Because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, SIT has suspended independent travel for all Spring 2021 programs. SIT defines “independent travel” as travel that is independently organized by a student or students, is unrelated to program activities, and involves an overnight stay.
HEALTH / MENTAL HEALTH
Should I get a COVID-19 test and self-quarantine when I get home?
We recommend that each student explore what their respective country requires/recommends. Students returning to the United States must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within three calendar days of planned departure. For the spring 2021 semester, SIT will manage testing logistics and will pay for the PCR test. If a student tests positive, SIT will assist the student in finding room and board accommodations during the isolation period and in offering logistical support. In this case, students would be responsible for the cost of room, board, and other costs associated with the extended stay (for example airline ticket change fees, local transportation, etc.) beyond the program’s official end date. Beyond mandatory testing, the CDC recommends self-quarantine upon arrival home for 14 days and practicing social distancing. For further information, see this CDC document.
Should I seek health care in country if I feel sick?
Yes, if a student is not feeling well, they should inform their academic or program director, who may refer them to a known local provider. A student can also contact iSOS for referrals to providers and hospitals.
Should I get a COVID-19 test?
This decision is up to local medical practitioners. If they require or provide a test, then we suggest you take their advice. If you have questions, please contact SIT student affairs or iSOS.
What if I encounter anti-Asian racism?
In the midst of a global pandemic, we at SIT are disturbed by ongoing reports of anti-Asian racism related to COVID-19 in the United States and beyond since this crisis began. SIT is committed to building an inclusive educational experience for all of our students as our programs shift in response to the pandemic. We know that times of crisis often exacerbate societal inequities. To our students of Asian descent, we stand with you and are here to support you. We encourage you to reach out for support about your experiences, fears, or concerns to your program staff or to SIT Student Affairs. Together, we will get through this.
Also, please see Stop AAPI Hate (a national organization collecting reports of Anti-Asian racism)
OTHER LOGISTICS AND INFORMATION
Location Risk Assessment Guidelines
This crisis management structure is designed to ensure that information is reported in a timely manner and that any incident classified as a crisis is escalated promptly to our team of experts, who are tasked with risk assessment and response.
Our Risk Assessment Committee and COVID-19 Task Force conduct daily assessments of the spread of the virus and related travel restrictions. Around the clock, we monitor the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. State Department, International SOS, and local health advisories and government communiques.
We rely on a variety of sources for actual or potential risk to students and staff, including the U.S. State Department travel advisories, daily Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) news summaries, International SOS and AIG risk alerts, Centers for Disease Control information, TRAVEX, local health ministries and other government sources, as well as global and local news sources. We also rely heavily on our staff teams on the ground to provide proactive updates about issues of concern and potential impact to our students and site. Our staff, in turn, rely on local program networks, including local authorities, U.S. embassy services, and informal sources.
General advice from SIT if you're booking flights during the pandemic
As you book your flights, we encourage you to purchase Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) insurance plans. You should compare plans and ask questions to be sure the trip insurance policy you purchase covers your needs.
Who pays for my ticket if I decide independently to return home?*
Unless SIT decides to close a program location, the cost to return home is the student’s responsibility. Some schools are offering stipends to help with that cost; the student should check with their home institution. Also, many airlines have eliminated change fees or are providing more flexibility due to the current circumstances.
If I'm quarantined at home, am I covered by International SOS?
While outside of the United States and within the original program dates, students are covered by our travel insurance program through International SOS. Their iSOS coverage ends upon arrival back to the U.S. or on the last day of the program location closing (which will occur on a date after programming ends and students have been given a reasonable period of time to leave; you will be provided with this date), whichever is earlier. Once in the U.S., students no longer have coverage through iSOS. All students have been asked to maintain health insurance in the U.S. for this and other reasons.
What if home is not in the U.S.?
Coverage ends on arrival in their home country or end of the program, whichever comes first.
SIT GRADUATE INSTITUTE
What is the status of SIT Graduate Institute's Global Master's and Part-time, Hybrid Doctorate and Master's degree programs?
SIT's Global Master’s degrees in International Education, Diplomacy and International Relations, and Humanitarian Assistance are scheduled to begin in January 2021 (pending ongoing review). In addition, all six of SIT's Global Master's degrees are accepting applications for the fall 2021 term.
SIT's Vermont campus will remain closed for summer 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, SIT Graduate Institute's part-time, hybrid degrees will not hold face-to-face residencies on campus in summer 2021. Each program is creating its own plan in response to this change and will contact students directly to inform them of updates to their program.
What is the status of the CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Program?
SIT's Vermont campus will remain closed for summer 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the CONTACT Summer Peacebuilding Workshop will not be held on campus in summer 2021. The program is creating alternative plans in response to this change and will contact participants directly to inform them of updates to their program.
Has SIT Graduate Institute received emergency relief funding through the CARES Act?
Yes, for more information on the emergency relief funding SIT Graduate Institute received, please view our reporting document and our quarterly budget and expenditure reporting document.