Health & Safety Study Abroad Updates
Health & Safety Study Abroad Updates
Last updated December 22, 2022.
UMD continues to monitor the global risk environment, including COVID-19, and follows guidance from such authorities as the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other public health and security experts as it pertains to study abroad program operations.
UMD may cancel programs when it deems global or local risk conditions warrant action. Students scheduled to participate in programs will be notified directly of any status change.
- All students studying abroad must comply with University COVID-19 vaccine requirements prior to departure.
Frequently Asked Questions
When and how does UMD make the decision to cancel study abroad programs, and what resources are informing these decisions?
The university continues to monitor the global risk environment and will follow guidance from such authorities as the U.S. State Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other public health and security experts. In addition, factors such as the health care infrastructure in individual countries, public health indicators, availability of citizen services at U.S. embassies and consulates, and border entrance requirements also inform our decisions.
Once programs have successfully launched, we continue to monitor the health and security environment in each location so our students can safely study and live in their host countries. Should your program location be designated as a Level 4 by the CDC and DoS, a comprehensive health and safety assessment of your program location will be completed. Decisions about the operating status of programs, including possible cancellations at any time (before or during program dates), will be informed by health and safety assessments on an ongoing basis.
While abroad, students should follow the health and safety regulations of local public health and legal authorities, continue to practice UMD's COVID-19 health and safety guidance, and adhere to the policies outlined by their program providers.
How do the U.S. State Department and CDC Travel Advisories affect the status of study abroad programs?
UMD continuously monitors the global risk environment and makes decisions about study abroad programs based on guidance from the U.S. State Department (DoS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our in-country partners and other public health and security experts. UMD considers study abroad related travel “essential travel.” Consistent with UMD’s existing travel policy and in alignment with CDC guidelines, Education Abroad is authorized to operate approved programs in locations designated as Level 4 by the CDC and Department of State (DoS). Participation in these programs is permitted under the following conditions:
- Students must comply with UMD's vaccination and booster requirements. Those exempt from these requirements should determine if host countries or partner institutions require vaccination for entry or enrollment.
- Students will be required to sign a waiver accepting full responsibility for the associated health, safety, and financial risks.
How will new COVID-19 variants affect study abroad?
UMD continuously monitors the global risk environment, including COVID-19, its variants and sub-variants and any potential impact they may have on our programs abroad. Students and emergency contacts can expect to get updates from Education Abroad as developments warrant.
How will the Monkeypox outbreak affect study abroad?
UMD continuously monitors the global risk environment, including the outbreak of Monkeypox, and any potential impact it may have on our programs abroad. Students and emergency contacts can expect to get updates from Education Abroad as developments warrant.
As of June 14, the monkeypox outbreak is not expected to impact the operating status of our programs abroad. Learn more about the Monkeypox outbreak from the CDC and read a Q&A from Dean Lushniak in the School of Public Health.
Is a COVID-19 vaccine required to study abroad?
A COVID-19 vaccination is required for all students, faculty and staff returning to campus, as announced by the University System of Maryland Chancellor. This means that all students who study abroad are also required to be vaccinated.
UMD complies with all federal and state laws in granting appropriate exemptions for medical or religious reasons. You can request a vaccine exemption for medical or religious reasons here. Please note: students must comply with all local, regional or national policies regarding COVID-19 while abroad. Many countries may not recognize exemptions and will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination upon entry. Check the relevant embassy website regularly leading up to and while abroad for any changes to your host country's vaccine requirement.
Important vaccine information for students arriving from outside the United States is available from the University Health Center.
Will a COVID-19 booster shot be required to study abroad?
COVID-19 booster shots (Pfizer or Moderna) are required for all students, faculty and staff returning to campus, as announced by the University of Maryland leadership. This means that all students who study abroad will also be required to be vaccinated.
Students are eligible for the Pfizer or Moderna booster if their last COVID-19 vaccination was at least six months ago for the Moderna shot, five months ago for the Pfizer shot, or two months ago for the J&J vaccine. The university’s booster requirement does not include the J&J vaccine because the CDC no longer recommends this vaccine in most cases. However, if you have already received a J&J booster, this will meet the booster requirement.
Where to get your booster shot:
Retail pharmacies, clinics and local and state vaccination sites also offer booster appointments; some locations may offer walk-up vaccination times. Visit vaccines.gov to find a vaccination site.
The University Health Center (UHC) offers booster shots by appointment. Visit myuhc.umd.edu to schedule an appointment.
Students must register their compliance prior to the start of their program and/or before traveling abroad. Once you have received your booster shot, please register your compliance at https://www.myuhc.umd.edu, click on "Enter my COVID-19 Vaccination Information," and upload supporting documentation. Add the date of the shot and choose the booster shot received from the “immunization” dropdown and then click on “upload” to upload a copy of the vaccination proof.
If you are not eligible for a booster before departure, we strongly recommend getting boosted while abroad once you become eligible.
What if I am not eligible for my booster?
If you are not eligible for your booster shot before your departure date (you received your last COVID-19 vaccination less than five months ago for Pfizer or six months ago for Moderna), you must make every effort to be boosted while you are abroad. Research shows that a booster dramatically increases protection against severe illness from the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Students should work with their host provider or university to learn more about the booster program in their host country.
Once you have received your booster shot, you must register your compliance at myuhc.umd.edu. Click on "Enter my COVID-19 Vaccination Information" and upload supporting documentation. Then, add the date of the shot, choose the booster shot received from the “immunization” dropdown, and click on “upload” for proof of vaccination.
How do I get a booster if I am already abroad?
If you are already abroad, we encourage you to check with CISI about locating/scheduling a booster shot. If you are not yet eligible for a booster in your program location, UMD will maintain your study abroad registration as long as you meet the booster requirement when you become eligible in your host country.
Why is my CDC White Card expiry date important?
According to current regulations in many locations, you need a valid CDC White Card as an equivalent to the European Green Pass or regional equivalent in order to use public transportation, enter museums and educational facilities, go out for dinner or coffee, etc.
Your CDC White Card is valid for only 12 months from the date of your last or sole dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Check the date of your most recent dose of the vaccine and make sure that it is less than 12 months from the day you intend to return to the U.S. after your study abroad program concludes. If your card is set to expire while you are abroad, you need to “renew” it by getting a booster shot while you are still in the U.S.
What if I test positive for COVID-19 while abroad?
While the number of COVID-19 cases for UMD study abroad students has been extremely low, if you test positive for COVID-19 while studying abroad, we’re here to support you.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to be isolated or quarantined from others for the time specified by your local health authorities. We recognize that being quarantined and isolated can be stressful and overwhelming. You can request quarantine/isolation support from an EA team member who can help you assess your needs and connect you with existing resources to address your medical, mental health, and academic needs.
If you would like to receive quarantine/isolation support, please email your EA advisor or email@example.com. Requests sent over the weekend will be responded to during business hours, so if you have an urgent medical need you should contact your host institution or program’s 24/7 number or the 911 equivalent.
What health and safety resources are available to students who study abroad?
All students who travel abroad for either credit earning or university-sponsored, non-credit programs are automatically enrolled in our risk management program. This program includes comprehensive international health insurance, access to Alert Traveler, tracking dates and location of travel in case of emergency, and more.
Explore more Health & Safety Resources.
What is Alert Traveler?
UMD students, faculty, and staff participating in study abroad programs have access and are strongly encouraged to use the AlertTraveler (AT) phone app for the duration of their study abroad experience. AT is a very important part of the health and safety network of resources in place to support the wellbeing of all participants on study abroad programs. The app is available for download to iOS or Android mobile devices. Participants are eligible to download AT 60 days from your MyEA itinerary’s start date.
The Benefits of AlertTraveler:
Safety alerts. AT keeps you informed of health, safety and security issues specific to your travel locations. AT uses your MyEA itinerary to send country and city-specific safety and security alerts and intelligence straight to your phone.
Enable location services. Enabling location services on your mobile device allows AT to send targeted alerts based on your GPS location, down to the city level. We strongly encourage travelers to enable location services. Doing so provides you with AT’s optimal service – putting timely, location-specific health, safety and security information at your fingertips immediately.
Safety check-in. Another important feature of the app is the instant check-in option. This helps Education Abroad quickly reach out to you when emergencies arise to see if you are okay or if you need assistance. You can also proactively request help in emergencies.
Other features. Other helpful features include info pages on security, local 911-equivalent numbers, travel logistics, political conditions, health advisories, and culture.
Read more about AlertTraveler on our Health & Safety page.
What insurance is available for students who study abroad?
All students who travel abroad for credit or for university-sponsored, non-credit programs are automatically enrolled in comprehensive international health insurance through CISI (included in each student's program fee).
UMD has added additional coverage in your CISI international insurance policy that covers you while you are abroad. The quarantine benefit covers expenses such as those incurred for lodging and meals during unexpected mandatory quarantine, the cost of a one-way economy airfare ticket to either the insured person’s home country or to re-join the group; and non-refundable travel arrangements. This coverage is limited to quarantine/isolation that results from close contact, positive test, or other government directed mandate and does not include quarantine required upon arrival to a country because those requirements are known prior to travel. For additional details on your CISI policy, visit: https://www.culturalinsurance.com/umd/
We also encourage all students to purchase travel insurance through CISI to offset non-refundable costs in the event that a program is canceled or a student choose to voluntarily withdraw from their program.
What if my program is canceled prior to departure?
While we hope that all of our study abroad program offerings will run as planned, the health, safety and travel landscape may change and programs may be canceled by UMD at any time.
UMD continuously monitors the global risk environment and makes decisions about study abroad programs based on guidance from the U.S. State Department (DoS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our in-country partners and other public health and security experts. Once programs have successfully launched, we continue to monitor the health and security environment in each location so our students can safely study and live in their host countries. Decisions about the operating status of programs, including possible cancellations at any time (before or during program dates), will be informed by these assessments on an ongoing basis.
To safeguard yourself academically and financially in the event of program cancellation, Education Abroad advises all students applying to a study abroad program to:
- Purchase refundable airline tickets and travel insurance
- Familiarize themselves with refund policies associated with program cancellation
- Register for classes at UMD in addition to study abroad courses (for students who are planning to study abroad for a fall or spring semester)
Education Abroad will notify students directly of any changes to their program status and will support students through program cancellation procedures. Education Abroad will also coordinate with campus partners to assist transitioning students to a semester on campus, including supporting academic and financial aid advising.
What if my program is suspended while I am abroad?
The ever-changing circumstances of the pandemic pose many challenges for international travel, and it is possible that an unexpected disruption would necessitate an early return. Education Abroad will notify students directly of any changes to their program status and support students through program disruption procedures.
There should be no disruption to your academic studies. UMD partners with programs that have established provisions for students to continue coursework remotely, should a program be interrupted during the term.
Will I be refunded if I choose to voluntarily withdraw from my program?
Once you commit to a program, Education Abroad does not guarantee that any portion of the program fee will be credited to your student account should you withdraw from the program for any reason. Read more about EA's withdrawal policy on the Financial Commitment, Withdrawals & Refunds page.
EA encourages all students to purchase travel insurance through CISI to offset non-refundable costs in the event that a student chooses to voluntarily withdraw from their program.
How can I stay informed about the latest Education Abroad program updates?
Education Abroad will notify students directly with any change to program status, in addition to sharing regular updates on this webpage.
For more information on upcoming application cycles, follow Education Abroad on social media! We post study abroad updates on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Sign up to receive updates on global opportunities at UMD curated to your interests at go.umd.edu/globalterps. When you indicate an interest in study abroad, you will receive program updates, application alerts, and other important information to help you navigate study abroad opportunities.