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Study Abroad Program Returns After COVID Suspension

By Melyssa Allen

Study Abroad Program Returns After COVID Suspension

By Melyssa Allen

After a hiatus caused by COVID-19 restrictions, Meredith College’s study abroad programs have returned in a limited capacity during the fall 2021 semester.

The Office of International Programs (OIP) consistently monitored the pandemic conditions since January 2020. After extensive review, Meredith approved a semester program at the College’s site in Sansepolcro, Italy, and additional options through vetted and approved affiliate programs.

“OIP has been completely immersed in COVID-19 work since January 2020. Our decision-making process throughout has been to collect daily information from multiple sources, including the CDC, State Department, Overseas Security Advisory Council, WHO, professional listservs, local contacts abroad, expert colleagues at Meredith, and other informational resources on travel safety,” said Director of International Programs Brooke Shurer. “After many months of gathering information, and in consultation with the Provost’s Office and the Student Health Center, we felt confident in approving programs to proceed for fall 2021. It was a very happy day when I was able to send fall 2021 official acceptance letters.”

A variety of mitigation measures were put in place for study abroad participants, including a requirement to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Students will also be able to travel only within their host country until after their study abroad program ends. Participants will also be required to follow all COVID-19 restrictions put in place by their host countries. OIP expects these new study abroad requirements to continue for the foreseeable future.

“Operating during a pandemic means we’ve had to put some new protocols and policies in place to help support the healthiest, most successful experience possible, in alignment with expert recommendations in the U.S. and abroad,” Shurer said.

Continuing with this cautious approach, Shurer said OIP expects to offer more study abroad options in the spring and summer of 2022.

“I would classify the reinstatement of study abroad this fall as a careful re-emergence, as opposed to an ‘open the floodgates’ approach,” Shurer said. “We expect to offer a spring 2022 semester in Italy, as well as a considerable list of Meredith Abroad faculty-led summer programs in multiple disciplines and locations. We will also offer Meredith Affiliate opportunities for summer and semester through our partner providers.”

OIP will keep monitoring pandemic conditions going forward.

“We will continue our process of evaluating location and program feasibility on an ongoing, case-by-case basis as the health and safety situation continues to evolve in the U.S. and abroad,” said Shurer.