Letter from SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett to SIT Study Abroad students

Announcement Date: March 3, 2020

Dear SIT students,

Greetings from Bilbao, Spain, where I am visiting our students on Policy, Law, and Regional Autonomy in Europe. Last week, I was with our students in Belgrade and then in Amsterdam. It is a strange feeling traveling around Europe at this time. On one hand, everything is normal. People are going about their lives, the universities are busy (as are the planes!), and the cafes, restaurants, and sidewalks are full. But on the other hand, we are aware of the spread of the coronavirus and the difficult circumstances of towns experiencing cases in Italy and of course, in Japan, South Korea, China, and elsewhere.

Studying abroad for a semester is always an adventure and learning to deal with public health risks is part of that experience this semester. Given the additional stress that places on you and your program, SIT is committed to supporting you so that you can successfully complete the program while minimizing risks.

At SIT, we have been meeting regularly to examine our response to this situation. We want to make sure you get to make the most of your time with us in your host country, and we want you to remain curious, open and engaged. As we move forward, your health and safety is of paramount importance, and we are considering every aspect of your safety.  We are in close communication with home schools and also with parents and other stakeholders.

After careful consideration, we are offering the following advice, which will be updated as necessary as our risk mitigation group continues to review individual program circumstances daily.  

  1. Independent travel is not recommended outside of the home city of the program, homestay community, and its immediate environs. Students travelling independently should consider changing your plans. If you do decide to travel, please recognize that you do so without our approval and you have already signed a general waiver assuming responsibility for public health risks that are inherent in travel, such as this Covid19 risk. Travel to Lombardy and the Veneto is strictly prohibited. Travel to these prohibited regions of Italy will lead to prompt removal from your program.  As the situation evolves, we may add or change these instructions at any time and students are expected to follow them at all times.
  2. SIT reserves the right to modify our programs at any time. In response to this public health event, we are reviewing excursions on a case-by-case basis using the following criteria: local health communiques, Centers for Disease Control and U.S. State Department advisories, local health advisories and public health infrastructure, localized recommendations/restrictions on travel, our partner schools’ concerns, and feedback from our academic directors and their teams. You will be informed if your excursion plans change.
  3. SIT is a fully accredited school and we are preparing online learning options for students who cannot continue with their program in person, either due to program closure or withdrawal of the student by a partner school or parent. We aim to provide full credit for students who wish to continue.

At a complicated time for travel and engagement, please be assured that SIT is dedicated to giving you the best possible learning experience that we can offer while prioritizing your safety. Please be safe, be well, and enjoy your studies.

Thinking of you all,