Study Abroad

COVID-19 Toolkit

This page is a collection of tools and resources to help you plan your program during this unprecedented time. If there is information that you think would be helpful that has not been included in this page, please be in touch! Email your program manager or with suggestions or feedback.

Information for the 2022-2023 program proposal cycle

Programming capacity

With no programs running between Spring 2020 and (earliest) Autumn 2021, UW Study Abroad is operating with a reduced staff. We will not be able to rebuild our staffing until we see a significant return to study abroad. Therefore, this coming year, we will be forced to run fewer faculty-led programs. Here are some factors we will consider when determining which programs to run in 2022-23:

  • Priority to cancelled programs: UW Study Abroad will give priority to previously approved programs that were cancelled in the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years. If you proposed a program that was cancelled and would like to propose again, get in touch with your program manager for instructions on how to proceed for next year. 
  • Program location: We must expect continued travel risk related to COVID (public health capacity, travel restrictions etc.) for the 2022-23 program cycle. Risks will vary considerably by country based on vaccination timelines, and many countries in the global south may not reach critical vaccination levels during 2022-23. We may have to give priority to programs running in countries that are likely to reach critical vaccination levels during 2022-23. This is a health & safety consideration, and also an ethical consideration: we do not want our programs to create additional burdens for overstretched health infrastructure, even if all our participants are fully vaccinated. To aid you in assessing your intended destination, we have put together a Risk Matrix in which you evaluate your location against various criteria. 
  • Student capacity: for the 2022-2023 proposal cycle, we will not be able to support programs that are designed for 10 or fewer students. 
  • Mobility: if your program is designed to travel to multiple destinations or cross international borders, we ask that you either:
    • redesign your program, limiting it to a single destination (city or town)
    • consider taking a year off from proposing a program 

Spring community meetings

We will host two community meetings to provide you with updates on study abroad and  international travel, and answer your questions about the upcoming proposal cycle. The content of the two meetings will be the same, you can choose one to attend. 

Friday, May 21, 1:00pm – 2:00pm – register here

Tuesday, May 25, 2:00pm – 3:00pm – register here

Study Abroad & COVID planning community meetings

UW Study has held several community and planning meetings during COVID to provide updates and check in with our partners across campus. See below for upcoming meeting times and for links to past presentations.

Past meetings

January 2021 meeting

Main takeaways

  • International UW-sponsored group travel (faculty-led programs) is cancelled through early fall 2021.
  • We have yet to make decisions about autumn 2021. We expect to make those decisions in the next month. We are cautiously optimistic.
  • We are making decisions to run future programming based on CDC and U.S. State Department guidelines, consultation with peer institutions, and information from the UW.
  • We are also now considering vaccine distribution timelines in our decision making.
  • We are providing options for cancelled programs (see above).

October 2020 meeting

Main takeaways

  • Study abroad is cancelled through spring 2021.
  • We are hoping to resume programming in summer of 2021.
  • We are making decisions to run future programming based on CDC and U.S. State Department guidelines, consultation with peer institutions, and information from the UW.
  • UW Study Abroad is facing unprecedented budget challenges.
  • UW Study Abroad staff has been reduced – staff transitions and lay offs.

June 2020 Meeting

Main takeaways

  • Study abroad is cancelled through autumn 2020.
  • We are hoping to resume programming in winter of 2021.
  • We are making decisions to run future programming based on CDC and U.S. State Department guidelines, consultation with peer institutions, and information from the UW.
  • UW Study Abroad is facing unprecedented budget challenges.
  • UW Study Abroad staff has been reduced to 80% FTE through October 2020.

Global Travel Security Resources

Planning timelines

At specific points in the planning process, we will check in with program directors to review the following criteria. These will be moments to determine if we can feasibly move the program to the next phase, or if we should cancel.

These month check-ins are estimates and may differ depending on the term. Visit our Planning timelines page for term-specific checkpoints.

4 months prior to departure

  • Contingency planning questionnaire deployed (see below for more info)
  • Cancellation criteria: 
    • If unrecoverable payments are already due at this point – cancel program
  • If proceeding, continue to monitor:
    • CDC level 3 or higher
    • DoS Level 4 
    • Entry restrictions for U.S. citizens/students & visa processing unavailable (if applicable)
    • Social and classroom/work place distancing restrictions 

3 months prior to departure

  • Contingency planning questionnaire due for UWSA and GTS review
    • Check in with program directors. How are they feeling about needing to plan for these scenarios? Are there any concerns regarding the contingency plan and the current destination situation? 
  • Evaluation criteria: 
    • If unrecoverable payments are already due at this point, evaluate likelihood that program will be able to run based on the following: 
      • CDC level 3 or higher in place
      • DoS Level 4 in place
      • Entry restrictions for U.S. citizens/students & visa processing unavailable (if applicable)
      • Social and classroom/work place distancing restrictions 
    • If these factors are no longer an issue, proceed to the next timeline.

2 months prior to departure

  • Cancellation criteria: if the following conditions are still in place – cancel program: 
    • CDC level 3 or higher
    • DoS Level 4 
    • Entry restrictions for U.S. citizens/students & visa processing become unavailable (if applicable)
    • Social and classroom/work place distancing restrictions increase (if this is not included in contingency planning)
  • If these factors are no longer an issue:
    • Complete group travel waiver for ITRASC review
    • Proceed to the next timeline

1 month prior to departure

For programs still viable and do not meet no-go criteria

  • ITRASC reviews/approves travel waiver 
  • Cancellation criteria:  
    • Return to CDC level 3 or higher
    • Return to DoS Level 4 
    • Entry restrictions for U.S. citizens/students & visa processing become unavailable (if applicable)
    • Social and classroom/work place distancing restrictions increase

Contingency planning

UW Study Abroad, Global Travel Security, and the UW Rome Center have been working to develop a contingency planning questionnaire. This document will be deployed through your program proposal and will ask you to respond to various scenarios & protocols that UW Study Abroad will put in place, in the context of your specific program, such as:

  • How would you handle a sick student? Sick program director?
  • What is your plan if the program has to be suspended?

We will not expect you to come up with the answers to this questionnaire on your own. We can consult with you to develop your contingency plan.

Contact our Global Travel Security team and your program manager if you have any questions or concerns about the planning timelines or the contingency planning questionnaire.

Recruiting students during COVID

How UW Study Abroad is supporting students

  • One-on-one advising via zoom, chat and phone
  • Info sessions and events: financial planning, Study Abroad 101, how to select a program, incoming freshmen orientations – visit our Events page for more details
  • Transferring scholarships from cancelled terms through summer 2022
  • Transferring application materials

Recruitment tools for program directors

  • Plan an info session – add it to the UW Study Abroad events calendar.
  • Utilize the UW Global Month Marketing Toolkit to find promotional language and collateral downloads (logos, templates, global photos, etc).
  • Visit UW Study Abroad’s Marketing & recruitment strategies page for program directors
  • Don’t feel like you need to be the expert! If students are asking you questions you are unsure how to answer, send them our way. Connect them with your program manager.
  • Include a link to the UW Study Abroad COVID-19 updates page in your promotional materials.

General talking points for communicating with students

  • The UW is very hopeful for future international programming and we continue to value these experiences as a department/unit/major/college/university, etc.
  • UW Study Abroad is closely monitoring the situation around the world. They make decisions as to whether to run programs based on CDC and U.S. State Department guidelines.
  • If UW Study Abroad decides to cancel programs due to COVID-19 (or for any other reason) prior to the program start date, students will receive a full refund.
  • Make parallel plans for academics and housing – one plan assuming you’ll be able to study abroad and then a backup plan in case your study abroad program is canceled due to the pandemic.

Common questions

Below are the most commonly asked questions from our June 2020, October 2020, January 2021 community meetings. We will continue to add content here. If you don’t see the answer to one of your questions, get in touch with a program manager or email

Will a COVID-19 vaccine be required to study abroad?

Great question. We don’t know yet. We now determining how the President’s announcement of the vaccination requirement that all students will tie into study abroad. We are in conversations with campus partners to learn how UW plans to handle vaccine requirements and then, in turn, how we can and should apply this to study abroad. We will provide you with more information when we have it.

Can we offer study abroad online?

Yes! See below for options to convert your program to a virtual study abroad. Please be in touch with your program manager if you would like to discuss options.

Can we offer domestic programming?

Yes! We are always thinking of ways we can offer global experiences to students without leaving the country. Please contact one of our program managers or if you want to discuss creating a domestic program.

How do I move my cancelled program to a different term?

Discuss your plan to move your program to a future term with your department chair and get approval to be abroad for that term. Contact your program manager about moving your proposal materials. The review process for programs that are switched to a new term will be expedited – especially if you check with your department chair first. If you are proposing the same program as last year (e.g. summer 2021 → summer 2022), begin the proposal process as you normally would. Your program manager can help you copy over responses from last year if you wish. 

Will there be any flexibility in the proposal deadlines?

UWSA usually provides some level of flexibility when it comes to proposal application deadlines. If you are concerned that you will not meet the deadline contact your program manager and they will give you an extension.

What does the Student Abroad Insurance cover with regard to COVID-19?

CISI, our Student Abroad insurance provider, will cover medical expenses that are a result of the prescribed course of treatment in infection from COVID-19 abroad – hospitalization, medication, etc. CISI will not evacuate students out of a country solely due to a COVID-19 outbreak. They will also not cover testing that is considered preventative or precautionary. Lodging expenses due to a country’s quarantine policy are also not covered.

What happens if students no longer feel comfortable participating in a program regardless of the decision UWSA makes about safety and viability?

Students can submit an Emergency Withdrawal Request at any time which may allow full or partial relief from their financial obligations to the program. UWSA will try to be as flexible as possible but given the unique financial situation of our programs, we may not be able to recoup any or all of a student’s fees. Feel free to connect your students with your UW Study Abroad program manager directly if they have questions. 

Should I have a Plan B for my program?

Yes, program directors will be asked to make contingency plans for things like students getting sick, program directors getting sick, social distancing guidelines, program cancellations while abroad, etc. UWSA will also ensure flexibility for students who are contracting and soon to depart. Given this flexibility we may be required to cancel programs earlier than we normally would. Especially before payments are made for a program.

What should I do if my department runs a Study Tour?

Updates on terms that UWSA has cancelled are on our COVID-19 response page. As a Program Director for a UW Study Tour, you may choose to wait before cancelling your program, to see if the situation improves.  Please be aware, however, that all UW student travel is subject to travel restrictions based on US State Department and CDC guidance.  Currently, all non-essential student travel is still restricted.  If you do choose to cancel your program, UW Study Abroad will not charge your department the $100/student fee.  If you are considering moving your program to winter or spring, we can make the necessary changes in our system. Please contact

Options for cancelled programs

UW Study Abroad has made the tough decision to cancel in-person international study abroad through early fall 2021 (including summer A, summer B and full-term summer). We want to honor and acknowledge all the work you have put into your study abroad proposals. We are offering you several options in how to proceed with the programs you have already proposed. 

Convert your program to a virtual study abroad

UW Study Abroad is interested in supporting all kinds of international engagement during this unprecedented time. We recognize that a virtual study abroad does not have the same appeal as in person, but we believe these can still be meaningful opportunities for students.

If you plan to convert your program to a virtual study abroad, please email your program manager. 

Why do a virtual study abroad

  • Multi-sensory experience – while virtual study abroad programs cannot achieve everything that in-person programs do, they can incorporate more sensory elements that a traditional online course (e.g. the group could share food from the host country through a virtual cooking class or delivery of food items to students and afterwards the group could share a virtual meal together)
  • Virtual visits to sites abroad – e.g. museums, lectures by tour guides/guest speakers with video/photos (check with the UW Rome Center and /or local coordinators and vendors about this option)
  • Meet or collaborate with people in another country – e.g. guest speakers, community members, students in the host country (COIL – see below)
  • Community building – this is a key element of faculty-led programs and program directors can think about how to build community within the group and set up ways for the students to connect that go beyond a traditional, online course (e.g. virtual hang-outs, “pen pals”, develop plans to all gather together in-person once it is safe).
  • Earn study abroad summer salary – the amount would be equal to what was approved in your initial spending plan.
  • Scholarships – provide students with an opportunity to use previously awarded study abroad scholarships

Virtual programming resources

We have compiled several resources that program directors may use to convert an existing program to a virtual study abroad. If you are aware of other resources we could include here, please email your program manager.

Information session

On February 2, UW Study Abroad offered an info session for program directors considering converting to virtual.

View the session

Funding for virtual programming

The Office of Global Affairs is offering curriculum grants through the Global Innovation Fund to support program directors who wish to convert their program to virtual.

Learn More

Virtual programming support

The following are several resources that can assist in adjusting your in-person study abroad curriculum to virtual international programming. Engaging with these resources is completely optional.


Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) is a pedagogy that is international, interactive, virtual. It engages with faculty and students at a university abroad.


Why COIL?  In partnership with a faculty member abroad, connect UW students with students from another country to complete shared assignments or projects. This kind of virtual exchange can build students’ confidence, global competence, career readiness skills, and global network. COIL naturally fosters community within the cohort. 

Cost to Program Budget: Free

International Engagement Opportunities:

  • Partner with an instructor abroad to co-create course curriculum that is customized to meet your needs, overlapping content during part or all of your program. 
  • Learning is highly interactive: students engage in problem solving with international peers.
  • Professors agree on technology accessible at both institutions. 
  • Students remain enrolled at their own institution, graded by their own professor.
  • The UW Office of Global Affairs may be able to help make connections with international partners.

Next steps

  • Review the COIL Resources compiled by UW Bothell:  Learn More
  • Attend a workshop: see details above


Omprakash offers a global network of vetted social impact partnerships and a platform for virtual learning that faculty can tailor to any subject matter or discipline.


Why Omprakash?: Working with Omprakash can be highly tailored to a program director’s needs, and their team provides direct support to relieve the admin burden of building and managing an online global learning program. The Omprakash network includes grassroots organizations in 50 countries, and they also offer curriculum enhancement and virtual learning resources.

Cost to Program Budget: variable

International Engagement Opportunities:

  • Connect students with opportunities for research, internships, mentorship, and guest lectures in areas including health, education, advocacy, migration, and sustainability.
  • Create customized content around race, privilege, and ethical international engagement that can supplement any existing curriculum
  • Use the EdGE online learning platform to move an existing in person course into the virtual space with features that support online cohorts and digital portfolios

Next Steps

  • Contact Willy Oppenheim ( to discuss how Omprakash might be able to support and enrich your program.  
  • View Omprakash’s list of international partners: View the Partners
  • Learn more about the EdGE online learning platform: EdGE
  • Attend a workshop -see details above

UW Rome Center

For program originally based in Rome, you can still use the UWRC as a resource to connect students to Italian institutions and enhance your online curriculum.


Why the UWRC?: the UW Rome Center can connect program directors to Italian partners and resources. Their network of options can be tailored to any discipline or area of focus.

Cost to Program Budget: To be determined

International Engagement Opportunities:

  • Guest lectures with local faculty/experts
  • Co-direct with a local faculty member
  • Virtual Italian language/culture classes with local faculty
  • Virtual museum and archeological site tours (either pre-recorded or live with local faculty/tour guide)
  • Virtual walking tours (again either pre-recorded or live)
  • Virtual business tours (pre-recorded or live)
  • Other virtual activities (e.g. cooking classes)
  • Virtual buddy program (structured exchange for duration of program, content specific discussions/deliverables, home city tour, language exchange/practice)
  • Virtual internships

Next Steps

  • Contact: Amity Neumeister, Resident Director –
  • Attend a workshop – see details above

Move your program to a later term

We have not yet made decisions about the feasibility of running programs in future terms, but we are closely monitoring world and local events. If you would like to transfer your program to a future term (e.g. summer 2021 -> spring break 2022), UW Study Abroad can work with you to make that change.

UPDATE: While we have not made any final decisions about early fall, we would discourage you from moving your program to this term at this point.

If you would like to transfer your program to the same term next year, please email your program manager. 

Commit to running in the next academic year

Pending approval from your chair and dean, we will transfer your proposal to the corresponding term in the next academic cycle. We will work with you to make updates to the program dates and the spending plan. Our hope is to begin advertising these transferred programs to students in the coming months, so they are able to plan ahead for their study abroad.

If you would like to transfer your program to the same term next year, please email your program manager.