Updated: May 4, 2021
Dear 2021 Students and Prospective Students,
Welcome to the 2021 summer travel season! All travel programs currently listed as being offered for 2021 are scheduled to run this summer and are currently enrolling. We do not anticipate canceling any of these programs based on COVID-19 if current entry requirements and conditions remain the same as they are now or improve.
Currently, Thailand is CDC level 2 for COVID-19, Belize is level 2, and Costa Rica and Panama are both level 4. All of these countries accept American and Canadian tourists for travel and have regular or semi-commercial flights available. The US is not without COVID and we have done our best not to compare the risk of travel in these countries with a COVID-free environment, but rather to the alternative of remaining in the United States.
Some of these program countries require a negative COVID test within 48-72 hours of arrival. This COVID test is the responsibility of participants. For program countries where a COVID test is not required for entry, Loop Abroad may still require a COVID test (with negative result) before travel even if you have completed COVID vaccination.
At this time, Thailand has a 14-day quarantine. Participants in a Loop Abroad Thailand program requiring a quarantine will be gifted the Loop Abroad virtual suture course (normally $299) and their choice of Loop Abroad virtual course, internship, or research fellowship (normally up to $1,495) to help offset the cost of their quarantine (approximately $1,295).
At this time, travelers returning to the US must have a negative COVID test before travel. Loop Abroad will arrange these tests for participants. Participants are responsible for the cost of the test (approximately $50 to $110 depending on program location). If this requirement is removed by the time of travel, participants will not be required to complete this test.
COVID-19 CANCELLATION GUARANTEE
Please rest assured that if Loop Abroad cancels a program because of COVID-19 (or for any reason), students enrolled in that program will receive a full refund of any tuition they have paid to Loop Abroad.
Students will also have the option to move their enrollment to a travel program in another country (where possible), move their enrollment to a virtual program, or move their enrollment to a future summer if one of these options is better for them.
Note: For participants who do not reside in the USA, if travel between your home country and the program country is prohibited by one or both governments, you will be eligible for a full tuition refund even if the program is not cancelled. Proof of residence may be required.
HOW WILL I PREPARE FOR MY TRIP?
We ask all participants and staff to isolate themselves as best as possible 14 days prior to their program departure, in preparation for their COVID test. You may be required to have a COVID test (with negative result) within 72 hours before travel if you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine (dependent on program country). There may be additional country-specific requirements, such as medical insurance or completing a health app on your phone. Loop Abroad will inform you of those requirements and help ensure you are ready for travel. While traveling, you will wear a mask for both your own health and the health of your group members.
HOW MIGHT A PROGRAM BE ADJUSTED FOR COVID-19?
Your program location will have areas to wash your hands, and you will be asked to bring hand sanitizer and required to wear a face mask. These are easy steps we can all take to keep ourselves and those around us safe, both from COVID-19 and from other germs!
We have adjusted programs to include outdoor classroom and learning space whenever possible, housing restricted only to Loop Abroad students and staff whenever possible, and private transportation whenever possible, and are providing COVID tests for our in-country staff before programs begin. By working closely with our local partners, and keeping groups small, we can follow a “Travel Pod” model with your group and their staff to help minimize any possible exposure. When interacting outside your travel pod group, all participants will be required to wear face masks.
We have developed an in-field management and response plan and will be training our staff to understand risk factors, prevention measures, and response protocols in preparation for our in-person programming this summer.
COVID-19-related travel requirements are changing all the time. Your program will be adjusted as needed so that we are in line with all requirements of the US, your program country, airports and airlines.
We might make program adjustments to help keep you safe. We may adjust programs to replace a museum trip with an outdoor activity, for example, or replace a restaurant meal with a meal prepared at or delivered to our housing.
We will do everything we can to keep our programs as fun, educational, full of activities, and safe as ever! We will make adjustments where necessary to make travel possible for as many of our students as possible, and will keep you updated about any such adjustments.
WHAT DOES A TRAVEL POD EXPERIENCE LOOK LIKE?
The Travel Pod concept refers to the entire group of students and full-time staff who will travel together while minimizing many of the risks typically associated with group travel by agreeing to follow health protocols both prior to departure and while on program.
In order to return to providing travel programs for students, every single person has a role to play — this includes students and their entire families, staff and local partners. In order to be part of the travel pod, all participants will follow the pre-departure requirements as outlined by Loop Abroad (isolate for 14 days prior, obtain negative viral COVID test and submit 72 hours before you leave).
Once the group arrives on the program, they will wear masks whenever they are interacting with anyone outside of the Travel Pod, while in a shared space with others, or when physical distancing measures cannot be met or maintained. Every program has exclusive areas for just our group — this may be at the housing, classroom space, in private transport, and for some activities. During these times, the group can enjoy time without masks.
Once students arrive, they will be provided a thorough orientation. Students will go through daily temperature and health checks with staff. Subject to availability, Loop Abroad aims to provide on-site covid tests 3-5 days into the program for all students and staff. To keep with our Travel Pod structure, the program will be crafted in a way that minimizes interaction with people outside of the group. Students and staff will wear masks when in areas that are not exclusively used by our group, or where a distance of 6 feet cannot be maintained.
Extra sanitation and cleaning procedures will be taken, including frequent hand washing and hand sanitizer use.
WHAT IF I TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID AND CANNOT ATTEND?
We encourage participants to purchase travel insurance that covers cancellation for medical reasons and that includes COVID coverage. These policies can be very affordable and can help you to recover your lost travel costs in such a case.
If you cannot attend a program because you contract COVID or are unable to travel by air because you test positive for COVID, you would not be eligible for a tuition refund, so travel insurance that covers cancellation in the case of a medical emergency is strongly recommended.
For students unable to attend their in-person program for COVID-related reasons, Loop Abroad is happy to provide access to the virtual program of the student’s choice at no additional charge.
WHAT ARE LOOP ABROAD’S PROCEDURES IF I GET SICK ABROAD?
In the last twelve years of study abroad, we have had lots of experience supporting students who need routine medical attention. Every program has 24/7 staff on-hand to help you if you feel ill and make sure that you can receive medical attention.
If you become ill during your program and require medical care or hospitalization for a severe case of COVID-19, Loop Abroad staff in your program country will make every effort to direct you to the best treatments locally available and, with your permission, check in with the medical team supervising your case. While our staff cannot be in the room with you, we will do our best to support you in making contact with your friends and family at home, advising on insurance and hospital paperwork, and communicating with doctors if you have any difficulties.
At the time of your program, the USA may require that you receive a negative COVID test within days before your return travel. If you test positive, you may be unable to return to the USA until you are able to test negative.
In that case, here is what would happen:
Please note that COVID-19 regulations are constantly evolving in each country and could change before your program begins. We will do our best to keep you updated to any such changes, but it is important that you ensure that you have appropriate medical insurance coverage should you need medical treatment abroad (which is a good idea even outside of COVID-19).
If you have questions or concerns, please contact [email protected] any time. Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you this summer!
“This program allowed me to have the experience of a lifetime and build some lifelong friendships! I never could’ve imagined how amazing this adventure would be. I had such an amazing time gaining experience with elephants and building great memories with amazing people!”
Sarah B., Thailand 101 2016 + Elephant Bonus Week