Response to COVID-19

Updated April 28, 2020:

Out of an abundance of caution, the College of Charleston cancelled all College-sponsored international travel through fall 2020. You can read more here.

The Center for International Education (CIE) continues to monitor the spread of the Coronavirus closely and is communication with students currently abroad. We encourage students and parents to regularly review and monitor the links below as this continues to be a fluid situation:

Current travel advisories:

Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions


  • As of April 27, 2020 the College of Charleston has cancelled all fall 2020 study abroad programs. 
  • As of March 19, 2020 the College of Charleston has suspended the remainder of CofC faculty-led spring 2020 study abroad programs. These students have returned home. In addition, the College strongly recommends that all students studying abroad through an affiliate, non-affiliate, or exchange in any of the European countries listed in the CDC's Travel 3 warning from March 11, 2020  and the CDC's Travel 3 warning from March 15, 2020 return home.
  • The College Emergency Management Team, in consultation with President Hsu, out of an abundance of caution due to the spread of COVID-19, has made the decision to cancel all College-sponsored international travel for faculty, staff and students that has not yet departed for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester including Spring break programs. In addition, the College is cancelling all summer 2020 programs. 

  • Currently, the College has a small number of students participating in two different study abroad programs in Seoul, South Korea. At this time, one of these programs has been cancelled, and the students have returned to the U.S. The other exchange partner university in Seoul has delayed the start of its semester and will begin the semester with online instruction only. However, the College has advised these students to return to the United States.

  • Two CofC students are currently studying in Japan and the host university is teaching courses online only from March 2 to March 13.  They have also cancelled all field trips during this time period. The College has advised these students to return to the United States.

  • Most of the students studying abroad through affiliated study abroad organizations and exchange partner universities have returned to the U.S. or are in the process of leaving their host institution. While the College does not directly control these third-party affiliate programs, College officials have recommended all students return to the United States.

  • CofC students returning from countries impacted by the coronavirus must self-isolate off campus for 14 days before they can return to campus and could be subject to assessment by state health officials. The College will work with all returning students to maintain their academic progress. For more information, please contact CofC’s Student Health Services.

The CofC student who was scheduled to study abroad in China for Spring 2020 has moved to another study abroad program in South America. 

The CIE has strongly recommended that all students studying abroad return home. Most affiliate program providers have cancelled their programs.  Most students have returned home.

If students are advised to return and they choose to remain in that location, they must sign and submit an Acknowledgment of Full Assumption of All Risks and Waiver of Liability form. Students who choose to remain in an overseas location after being asked by the College to return cannot be guaranteed support from the College.

  • The College of Charleston has students studying abroad for Spring 2020 on exchange programs throughout the world. It has been recommended to exchange students that they return home.

Exchange partner universities in all countries have altered their semesters to some level (as of March 11th)

  • MCI (Austria)
    • As of March 10, in-person classes are suspended until further notice.  They anticipate that they will be closed for two-three weeks. Updates can be found here: https://www.mci.edu/en/coronavirus
  • Johannes Kepler University (Austria)
    • In-person classes cancelled until April 3rd when their two week Easter break begins.
  • Lille (France)
    • As of March 5, Université Catholique de Lille took the following decisions: Anyone (student, teacher, employee) who had recently stayed in clusters* and international at-risk areas (or who have had close to contact with people returning from these areas), as defined by the government must postpone their return to campus by 14 days while monitoring their health during this time.
    • See updates here: https://www.univ-catholille.fr/en/actualite/coronavirus-covid-19-communication
  • Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (Italy)
    • In compliance with the urgent provisions of the Italian Council of Ministers, implemented by the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, as a preventive measure for the spread of Coronavirus, the Free University of Bolzano will remain closed from Thursday 5 March 2020, until Sunday 15 March 2020. Updates can be found here: https://www.unibz.it/assets/Documents/Corona-Virus.pdf
  • Sungkyunkwan University- SKKU (South Korea)
    • Delayed start of the semester by one week to start instead on March 9th.
    • Courses will only be taught online for the first two weeks.
    • Updates can be found here: https://www.skku.edu/eng/
  • Queen's University Belfast (United Kingdom)
    • One presumed positive case on campus. They are now working with the Public Health Agency to trace anyone who has been in contact with the infected individual to ensure they are supported to receive medical attention if required and to take all appropriate steps to contain any further spread of the virus and protect the welfare of all within the wider University community. We have been in touch with our students there. 
    • Queen's is sharing updates here: https://www.qub.ac.uk/home/coronavirus-faqs/.
  • Sussex (United Kingdom)
    • The University management has decided to suspend all teaching for the week ( beginning Monday, March 16) and begin online teaching from Monday, March 23.
    • See updates here: https://student.sussex.ac.uk/coronavirus
    • The CIE is in contact with current study abroad students in areas identified as affected by the Coronavirus and will continue to be until this situation is resolved. Currently, there are no reports of illness among any CofC students or faculty on study abroad programs. 

    • The CIE recognizes that returning home from other countries (those with lower warning levels from the CDC or U.S. Department of State) is a personal decision that should be made in consultation with the student’s family. Students should consider any current or on-going health issues; impacts to one’s academic program; as well as Financial Aid implications.  CIE recommends that students consult our office, their host program or university, their academic advisor as well as the Office of Financial Assistance and Veterans Affairs before making any decisions. 

CofC recognizes that personal tolerance for risk may vary and that final decisions will be made between a student and their family. CIE recommends that students consult our office, their host program or university, and their academic advisor, as well as the Office of Financial Assistance and Veterans Affairs before making any decisions. 

 Students who choose to depart their programs early and return to the US must notify the CIE immediately (email studyabroad@cofc.edu). Students will be responsible for notifying their host university/ program provider and their CofC academic advisor to secure their next steps abroad and at home.  Any students with Financial Aid are also responsible for contacting the Office of Financial Assistance and Veterans Affairs. CofC cannot guarantee that students who voluntarily withdraw from a program that has not been canceled will receive credit for the academic term, though we will strive to support students in their academic progress to the fullest extent possible.  Additionally, CofC cannot guarantee that students who voluntarily withdraw from a program will receive a refund for program or travel expenses. If you are studying with a program provider that has offered a remote coursework option, please see below for guidance. If the College decides to cancel any of its own semester abroad programs, students and faculty on that program must return to the U.S. immediately.

As of Friday, March 6, 2020 all Spring Break programs have been cancelled. Program participants received emails from the CIE with further information.

As of Monday, March 23, 2020, all Summer 2020 programs  have been cancelled. 

The College continues to evaluate whether to postpone or cancel study abroad and exchange programs in countries that are not currently under CDC travel notices. Any decisions in this regard will be communicated directly to program participants at the appropriate time.

As of Monday, April 27, 2020, all Fall 2020 programs have been cancelled. 

  • All CofC students on faculty-led and exchange students have been enrolled in our study abroad health insurance policy through CISI. Please see the policy summary. Students received an email directly from CISI (enrollments@culturalinsurance.com) before their departure as well. 

  • Students studying on affiliate programs, should refer to their program provider’s insurance policy, which can be found here

  • Students participating in affiliate programs should contact their host program regarding potential refunds.

  • Students participating in a CofC Faculty-Led program will be contacted by the CIE regarding refunds.

As of Monday, March 23, 2020, all Summer 2020 programs have been cancelled. The CIE will be communicating directly with the students regarding refunds.

  • Check with your host program. Most providers and host institutions are offering students to continue their courses online.

  • Check with the CIE and your academic advisor if your CofC Faculty-Led program is cancelled. 

Students need to contact CofC’s Office of Financial Assistance and Veterans Affairs. Each student’s status will be unique given their Financial Aid package and study abroad program type.

The College of Charleston is closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak and has created a dedicated webpage. You can view updates here:https://emergency.cofc.edu/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/ .

Please refer to https://emergency.cofc.edu/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/ for more information.

The latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State can be accessed at the following links:

As long as the host program can still provide an official transcript with graded coursework, we do not anticipate any credit transfer issues for students who have been given the option by their host program to complete coursework remotely and choose to take it.  CofC is not able to offer financial compensation for program fees for students who choose a remote option. Participants in affiliate programs should consult their provider regarding potential refunds.

At this time, the CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to the following countries under CDC Warning Level 3 (or higher) travel notices. CofC students returning from countries impacted by the coronavirus must self-isolate off campus for 14 days before they can return to campus and could be subject to assessment by state health officials.  For more information, please contact CofC’s Student Health Services.

The US Department of State has also issued a Level 4 Global Travel Advisory (Do Not Travel). 

The latest travel advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State can be accessed at the following links:

The following general actions can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Students should strictly follow the guidelines and recommendations of their host program/university when traveling independently.  Students should also notify the onsite program staff and register independent travel with the host program as instructed. The program staff’s ability to assist students in case of a difficulty is increased by knowing students’ plans and their location in advance.

  • Students should keep cell phones fully charged and operational, and check their email frequently (at least once a day).

  • Students should travel with all key documents, including their passport/visa and insurance documents.

  • Students should travel with a full supply of any regular medications, regardless of how long they plan to be away. Prescription medications should be packaged in their original containers.

  • Students should be aware that if they choose to travel outside of their program, they may experience difficulty returning to the city or country their program is located in.

The CIE will directly contact students abroad and accepted applicants with updates via their student email accounts.  Outside of urgent circumstances, coronavirus updates will be issued on a weekly basis through the Novel Coronavirus FAQs page found at http://studenthealth.cofc.edu/novel-coronavirus-faqs/.  

For health and medical-related questions and concerns, please contact Student Health Services
For logistical and programmatic questions and concerns, please contact the Center for International Education