An update from the International Programs Office about student travel (including semester abroad and faculty-led research abroad) in 2021.
While Fall 2020 study and research abroad programs are not operating, Occidental College currently plans to offer (as conditions allow) spring semester ’21 study abroad. Faculty-led research (winter ’21) and faculty-led courses with a summer ’21 travel component are deferred to the 2021-22 academic year. Summer ’21 programming, including Faculty-led research, is in development and under ongoing review.
All student travel is governed by Occidental's Statement of Location Safety and the Student Travel Policy. IPO, the college crisis management team and the faculty committee who oversee study abroad constantly evaluate our programs for compliance with these standards. Every program is subject to cancellation at any time even under normal circumstances. The global COVID-19 pandemic that cancelled all spring, summer and fall 2020 programs continues to impact international travel.
Our semester program list has narrowed significantly due to capacity at our program sites, and IPO’s assessment of each site’s past and on-going responsiveness to the pandemic. Factors include on-site support to students; academic quality and continuity; communication with Oxy, students, families; reimbursement policies; and the highest level of transparency regarding the complex, detailed metrics they are using to evaluate conditions and adapt for student safety, in advance.
Students who choose to participate, and their families, must understand and accept the possibility that their experiences may be impacted by some of the same occurrences experienced during the spring ’20 cancellation and repatriation of all semester abroad students. Conditions may include:
- Respectful social distancing practices in host communities may create new challenges for cultural immersion.
- Limitations on mobility. Since travel is a known risk, many programs have modified field-trips and prohibited leaving the host country.
- Possible isolation/quarantine upon arrival.
- Limited housing options and the possibility of immediate housing relocation/isolation due to suspected or known exposure to the virus.
- Possibility of cancellation, return home and remote learning to ensure academic continuity at any time prior to departure or during operation.
- Regular, detailed communication with families, host programs and IPO to ensure safety and compliance.
- Appropriate adaptation of program’s student codes of conduct (mandatory social distancing) and travel restrictions to adapt to the pandemic.
Executive Director, International Programs