April 9, 2020

Summer 2020 Study Abroad/Travel Programming:

UMaine is cancelling all summer 2020 study abroad programs. 

Given the ever-evolving situation regarding COVID-19, we believe it would be beneficial to have a System decision made at this time to cancel all summer study abroad/travel programming (including both international and domestic faculty-led travel courses). Our reasons for this include:

  • Preparations for a study away experience begin months in advance of departure. Given the current DOS Global Health Level 4 Travel Advisory advising all individuals “Do Not Travel,” we do not believe it is appropriate to have students committing resources in preparation for programming that is in direct contradiction to this advisory.
  • Students are better equipped to plan for program completion with an accurate understanding of the opportunities available to them. Waiting to cancel summer study abroad could result in missed opportunities to fulfill requirements in alternate ways.
  • Our offices are still supporting students in returning to the U.S. from spring study away programming after the recall of all study abroad students. Since the situation is ever changing, it’s too early to understand what conditions will be like on the ground months from now and we believe we must be confident in our assessment of the safety of locations prior to preparing to send students back out.
  • Many of our trusted partners in the field have cancelled summer study abroad programming, including: USAC (cancelled all Summer Session I and single summer session programs that begin in late May/early June), API (cancelled many Summer Session I programs as well as certain internships with a start date earlier than June 15), ISA (cancelled all programs with a May start date), CISabroad (cancelled many of their summer programs). From the university side: Harvard Business School (cancelled all international field work programs for summer), Universite de Sherbrooke in Quebec (cancelled all incoming programming through end of August),  Louisiana State University, Morgan State University, and University of Maryland, College Park (cancelled all summer study abroad). Boston University and Northeastern University are also discussing cancelling summer study abroad programming.
  • The CDC has recommended the cancellation of all gatherings over 50 people through at least mid-May. The nature of study away often requires that students are exposed to groups greater than 50 people through transportation, community connections, orientation, and other activities. Even if this recommendation is not extended, mid-May puts us at, or very close to, departure dates.
  • USM’s Summer Session I has already been moved to online courses only, signifying that even on campuses in Maine, we are not confident we will be able to support in-person interaction. Sending students abroad for in-person interaction during this time presents an entire new set of risk considerations.
  • Many of our community partners, both domestic and international, are experiencing dramatic impacts in their operations. We would like to avoid making commitments now, potentially burdening their resources, until we have a better understanding of the longer-term impacts.

By making a System ruling to cancel summer 2020 study abroad/travel programming, we show clear, proactive leadership in protecting our students from navigating unnecessary stress in regards to unknown plans and we demonstrate our commitment to applying CDC and DOS recommendations.   Insights from esteemed partners in this field were considered to guide our decision making in order to protect the safety and well being of our students. Connecting students with the world is our passion, and we truly cannot wait for the day we are able to confidently send students out in the world again, but we believe that will not happen this summer. We would like to revisit the status of study abroad/travel programming for early fall in May, to allow appropriate time for planning.

March 12, 2020

UMaine/UMM coronavirus response frequently asked questions, March 12

University of Maine System Workplace Policies and Guidance regarding COVID-19, March 12

UMaine closes ALL study abroad programs and students are returning home by March 20. 

March 11, 2020 update

UMS/UMaine and UMM COVID-19 updates on remote instruction, residential students, March 11

UMaine closes all Spain programs. Students are to return to the U.S. by March 18. 

March 10, 2020 update

The University of Maine System announced today, March 10, that it is restricting all business-related air travel until further notice. Moreover, faculty, staff, and students are encouraged to restrict any travel to areas impacted by COVID-19. Read the full March 10th memo

UMaine President Ferrini-Mundy followed with a campus wide announcement on March 10th with further guidance. Read the full announcement. 

The residence halls will remain open over spring break for students who wish to remain on campus. 

The University of Maine System is currently assessing its capacity to move online and to other distance education technologies should campus operations be disrupted. 

UMaine is continuing to operate its study abroad programs in Spring 2020 except for programs in China, South Korea and Italy as of today. 

March 6, 2020 update

UMaine has posted a new U.S. CDC recommendations on the prevention and treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 4, 2020 – 3:00 p. m. update 

UMS memo on community members traveling abroad and CDC information for travelers

The University of Maine System has issued a memo to students, faculty and staff regarding members of our communities currently traveling abroad. 
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for travelers returning to the U.S.:
Read the full update here

March 4, 2020 – 1:00 p.m. update:

We are taking the spread of the Covid-19 virus very seriously. UMaine is monitoring hourly updates on the Covid-19 virus from the following sources – U.S. Center for Disease Control, World Health Organization, U.S. Department of State Travel Travel Advisories, and various major news sources. Every weekday morning  the UMaine Office of International Programs staff is on a conference call with the University of Maine System Risk Manager and academic leaders, to review the newest information and assess risk by country.

We trust and rely on our host universities partners to provide updates and support to our students at all times. We are in communication with all of them regarding this situation.

Routine and emergency updates are first sent to students currently abroad. If we need to evacuate students, we then call the student’s emergency contact person to provide support and updates. Students and families can call our office during business hours at 207-581-3437 and after hours UMaine Police 207-581-4040 who will contact the OIP Director to return the call.

March 2, 2020:

As you may know, last night the CDC issued a Guidance for Student Foreign Travel for Institutions of Higher Education encouraging U.S. institutions of higher education (e.g., universities and colleges) to “consider asking current program participants [in student foreign exchange programs] to return to their home country.”The University of Maine System, of which UMaine is a member institution,  has decided to assess the health situation in each country on a case-by-case basis.  At this time this applies to our programs in China, South Korea and Italy only. The rest of our study abroad programs are running normally. We are monitoring the State department, CDC and WHO websites hourly.

If any student would like to voluntarily cancel their study abroad program and return home, we will be happy to assist you.  UMaine Office of International Programs will work with your host institution/provider to arrange for your coursework to be completed online remotely from home. If this is not possible, UMaine will arrange for you to complete the courses as independent studies through UMaine. This will help to mitigate the impact on your academic progress and financial aid.

Protocols to close a program and evacuate students:

UMaine follows the recommendations of the  U.S. Department of State, CDC, World Health Organization to determine risk and offer recommendations to students.

Further factors to consider:

  • The U.S. government or host country governments can enact travel restrictions, quarantines and border screenings at any time
  • Airlines can modify or cancel flights at any time
  • Host university or program can suspend operations or delay the semester dates.

February 29, 2020:

All programs in Italy closed and students were asked to return to the U.S. by March 10.

February 27, 2020:

All programs in South Korea closed and students were asked to return to the U.S.

January 30, 2020:

All programs in China closed and students were relocated to an alternative program.