COVID-19 Updates - Loop Abroad

COVID-19 Updates

 

Updated: January 28, 2021

Dear 2021 Students and Prospective Students,

We are looking forward to the return of in-person travel programs in 2021. All programs open for enrollment on the website are currently scheduled. However, we all know that COVID-19 restrictions continue to evolve and change over time. Given that, we want to help you understand how and when we will make decisions regarding confirming, canceling, or making any necessary changes to in-person programs for the summer of 2021.

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.

Pause on booking flights, visas, and other additional costs

For now, we are recommending that enrolled students wait to book flights, purchase visas, and purchase any other additional items (such as clothing or supplies for the trip) until your program is confirmed. This will help to limit changes that need to be made and will make the process much easier for you if your program is changed or canceled.

PROGRAM EVALUATION DATES

We are committed to doing everything we can to make safe travel possible for our students this summer. That means waiting as long as we reasonably can to make a decision on whether to confirm or cancel a program.

If your program start date is between these dates: Your program will be evaluated and, if necessary, cancelled by:
May 14-16, 2021 March 15, 2021
May 28-30, 2021 March 30, 2021
June 11-13, 2021 April 15, 2021
June 25-26, 2021 April 30, 2021
July 9, 2021 or later May 15, 2021

 

In order for a program to run:

  • Commercial or semi-commercial flights must be available (but may require a COVID exam)
  • Tourists from the USA must be able to enter the program country
  • Program country must be CDC COVID Level 2 or lower
  • Program country must be State Department Level 2 or lower

Note: A COVID vaccine being required for admission to a program country will NOT cause us to cancel the program if the vaccine is readily available throughout the US.

Note: A negative COVID test being required for admission to a program country, to the US, or for air travel will NOT cause us to cancel the program.

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.

WHAT IF I WANT MORE CERTAINTY BEFORE THEN?

We hope that you’re able to wait until your program evaluation date to confirm whether your program will take place as planned, but we understand that sometimes job, school, and family obligations require you to plan with more certainty ahead of time.

If you are in that boat, we welcome you to consider an option with more certainty at this time. 

  • You can preemptively move your enrollment to summer of 2022.
  • You can transfer your full or partial tuition balance to virtual programming options this spring or summer or throughout the next academic year. This may be a great option for students who need the credit or experience from their program and want to complete it at an earlier start date.
  • You can transfer your admission and tuition balance to a program later in the summer. Programs later in the summer may have a better chance of running as they will have more time to be influenced by vaccines are other safety protocols. Enrolled students can do this any time, subject to availability, by emailing [email protected]
  • You can transfer your tuition balance to an in-person 2021 program in a Central American country, including Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica. These countries are currently open to tourist travelers from the USA, which signifies an increased likelihood that these programs will run as-scheduled in the summer. Any currently enrolled student can transfer their admission and tuition to one of these programs by contacting [email protected], as long as there is space available.

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 won’t know until closer to departure which other adjustments might be required at the time of your travel program, but 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. Some examples might include:

  • Proof of a negative COVID test result within a certain period before travel out of the US
  • Proof of a negative COVID test result within a certain period of travel before returning to the US (note: if this is a requirement at the time of travel, we will ensure that such testing is available, including transport to testing where needed)
  • Proof of vaccination against COVID (this is not currently a requirement in any program countries, but if it were required to enter the program country and were readily available, it would be required to participate in that particular program.)
  • Quarantine period on arrival: if a quarantine is required on arrival, we may offer your program with an additional quarantine period as an option. (If this were the case, you would have the option of a refund if you did not want to extend your travel to include the quarantine period.)
  • Restriction of certain activities or dining options: 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 IF MY PROGRAM DOESN’T GET CANCELLED, BUT I TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID AND CANNOT ATTEND?

We encourage participants to purchase travel insurance that covers cancellation for medical reasons. 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 while 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:

  • You will need to change your return flight. Usually that means paying the change fee and any fare difference. Sometimes the cost of changing the flight is more than purchasing a new one-way ticket.
  • Some countries (including Thailand) require anyone who tests positive to be admitted to the locally designated hospital for quarantining and treating COVID-19 patients. You would be required to stay in the hospital until a doctor determines you have recovered and are non-contagious. You will be responsible for the healthcare costs during this time. You should make sure that your medical insurance or travel medical insurance would cover this cost should it arise.
  • Loop Abroad in-country staff will be on call to help with:
    • Informing you of local regulations,
    • Assisting you to get testing if you have symptoms, and
    • Working with medical and government authorities to follow regulations for treatment and quarantine of positive cases
  • Neither Loop Abroad staff will nor friends or family would be allowed to visit you in a quarantine ward. Loop Abroad staff has deep experience working with local medical facilities and will be available by phone to check in with you and, if needed, assist you in your communication with hospital doctors.

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)

Questions?

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

Wittenberg University