Study away and travel updates for COVID-19

June 5, 2020

Dear BOSP Autumn Quarter Program Participants and Families,

We write to share with you an important update about the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP). Given the uncertain nature of the global health crisis’s effect on public health and travel, Stanford has made the decision to suspend all BOSP autumn quarter study away programs. This decision took into consideration a number of factors including student health and safety; evolving travel restrictions; interruption of passport and visa issuance; our ability to support physical distancing; and the overall impact resuming program operations will have on the health and well-being of our staff, faculty, and local community partners.

This decision impacts autumn quarter programs in Australia, Berlin, Florence, Hong Kong, Kyoto, Madrid, New York, Oxford, Paris, and Santiago.

We know our students looked forward to a quarter of study away and we share in your disappointment. This has been an intensely challenging time for us all as we have had to adapt to a whole new way of learning and living.

Stanford remains deeply committed to global education and the academic mission of BOSP. The BOSP advising team is here to support you as you revise autumn plans and consider study away in a future quarter. We currently remain optimistic about the possibility of safely and responsibly resuming programs in winter, spring, and summer of the 2020-21 academic year. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide more information as it becomes available.

Below is a set of FAQs to help you with academic planning and support, changes to travel arrangements, and more. We deeply appreciate your understanding as we navigate the uncertainties of this global health crisis.

Sincerely,

Aron Rodrigue, Burke Family Director of the Bing Overseas Studies Program


BOSP Autumn Quarter 2020-2021 COVID-19 FAQs

The Bing Overseas Studies Program is committed to the health and safety of our students as we continue to actively monitor the responses to COVID-19 within the U.S. and other BOSP program locations. Please direct any questions to: bospstudy@lists.stanford.edu, or +1 (650) 723-3558.

Our sincere desire is to send as many eligible students as possible to study in one of our programs; and we will strive to do this to the best of our ability moving forward as we navigate the uncertainty ahead. If you decide to reapply for a future BOSP program, your application will receive a preferred review and consideration. You will not, however, be guaranteed a spot in the same program. You can find information on our application cycles and deadlines here.

BOSP is exploring the possibility of developing additional program offerings to be made available in summer quarter 2020-2021. We are also considering a small number of carefully selected online learning opportunities. Both possibilities are still in early stages of development. As details become available, we will share on our website and directly by email with students whose study away plans have been disrupted by program suspensions.

BOSP follows Stanford’s International Travel Policy, which prohibits university-sponsored travel “to countries or regions and locations within a country where the U.S. Department of State has issued an official Travel Advisory of Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”) or Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”) for either the country destination, or for the particular region or location of intended travel within the country destination, or where there is other reliable information of significant health or safety risks.”

Additional factors considered include: guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), International SOS risk assessments, local on-site government advisories and regulations, entry restrictions in the host country for foreign nationals, availability, and access to local medical resources and support, local infrastructure and capacity constraints due to social distancing requirements (for program buildings, classrooms, host families, residence halls, transportation, etc.), ability to support possible quarantine or self-isolation, and general ability of onsite resources to fully support program needs and goals.

All of the conditions above were considered on a program-specific basis. While international travel considerations may not directly affect Stanford in New York for most students, the local infrastructure and constraints related to physical distancing, as well as local government guidelines, are an important part of our assessment.

BOSP is closely monitoring home campus communications and decision-making impacting the 2020-2021 academic year. Many of the concerns and constraints affecting home campus decisions also affect BOSP programs. As Stanford considers a pathway for the entire academic year, including plans for Summer Quarter 2020-2021, BOSP may consider possible changes or additions to our program offerings in order to allow as many eligible students as possible to participate in our programs within our evolving set of opportunities and constraints. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate complexities in current planning.

You should work with your academic advisor and/or department to create an academic plan for the autumn quarter based on courses taught from the Stanford home campus. We urge you to pay close attention to Stanford central communications surrounding plans for the autumn quarter. We recognize that there are still many unknowns. Please closely monitor your Stanford email as we move forward.

BOSP will not place any charges on your University Bill. Your University Bill and financial aid award will reflect your actual autumn quarter plans. For any questions or concerns about your University Bill, you should contact the Student Services Center. You are welcome to address questions or concerns about your financial aid award to the Financial Aid Office.

All accepted and waitlisted students were instructed to await confirmation from BOSP before purchasing a flight for their programs. If you purchased a flight anyway, we strongly suggest that you call your ticketing airline as soon as possible to explore your options for ticket refunds or changes. BOSP will not refund any airline fees for students who have purchased flights against our instructions.

BOSP staff members are always available to help address questions and concerns about our programs and processes. If you are feeling generally stressed out or anxious, we encourage you to reach out to Stanford’s many student resources including Stanford Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and Residence Deans and/or your Academic Advising Director. You can find many more resources on Stanford’s COVID-19 Health Alerts webpage.


See below for more news and announcements regarding COVID-19:

Stanford University has been actively monitoring the evolving Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and is updating the community as additional information becomes known. A central resource website at Stanford has been established and continues to serve as the best ongoing source of information.

At present, there have been no identified cases of COVID-19 at any of Stanford’s overseas studies programs or on Stanford’s main campus. As Stanford currently has more than 200 undergraduates studying abroad, we want to share ongoing determinations that are being made with respect to our international programs as well as the University’s latest guidance to our student community.

Stanford in Florence

BOSP’s greatest priority is the safety, wellbeing, and security of our students. While no coronavirus cases have been identified within our Stanford in Florence program, the escalating COVID-19 situation in Italy has reached a critical point. Out of an abundance of caution, we have determined the risk to students and disruption to the program are too numerous to continue normal operations. Therefore, we are suspending the Bing Overseas Studies Program (BOSP) in Florence for the remainder of Winter Quarter 2019-20. In-person instruction concluded as of Wednesday, February 26; remote continuation of coursework from students’ home locations is scheduled to commence the week of March 2, 2020.

In making this decision, we have carefully consulted numerous sources of reliable intelligence, including the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and intelligence and counsel provided through Stanford’s third-party global risk consultant and Stanford’s Public Health Policy Committee. Additionally, BOSP has participated in benchmarking and sharing of information among other U.S. universities with programs in Italy. We felt this decision was necessary to reduce the risk of students facing possible travel restrictions within or when departing Italy. We understand the disappointment and frustration this decision may produce and are committed to working closely with students and families to limit the extent of personal and financial disruption amidst this rapidly evolving international health crisis.

BOSP Spring Quarter Offerings Under Review

A decision regarding BOSP Spring Quarter programs has not yet been made. In close coordination with our many campus partners, we will continue to actively monitor the developing situation and decide on the operation of Spring Quarter programs no later than March 20, 2020. Enrolled students who wish to withdraw from BOSP Spring Quarter programs may do so without a withdrawal penalty and should contact our office for assistance.

Travel Safety

For those members of the Stanford community who are currently abroad or have plans to travel internationally in the weeks and months ahead, it is vital to remain updated on the latest information concerning the COVID-19 situation. Our campus partners in the Vaden Health Center recently issued the following counsel to any students who may be planning international travel:

  1. COVID-19 may spread in countries with identified cases or to new areas. Recently, community spread that is not linked to other cases or recent travel to mainland China has been observed. Stanford continues to assess risk based on the number of cases, community spread, public health infrastructure, as well as other factors. Please check for any new travel restriction updates before departing the United States. International SOS has compiled a comprehensive list of these restrictions.
  2. Please stay actively alert to changes and developments that may affect your plans.
    • Monitor travel advisories daily, including potential restrictions on border crossings or closed borders.
    • Countries you visit may decide to implement travel restrictions with very little notice, impacting your ability to return to campus.
    • Airlines may cancel/limit flights in or out of a country or region.
    • Additional quarantine measures may be applied by the U.S. and other countries.
    • Re-entry to the U.S. could be restricted.
    • Stanford’s 14-day self-isolation policy may be extended to other countries
  3. International students and foreign nationals should check their immigration documents before leaving the U.S. If you are unable to return to the U.S. for the start of the quarter, your visa status may be impacted.
  4. Register your travel with Stanford. Whether you are traveling for research, conferences, internships, or other reasons, please register your travel, so that the university will be able to contact you in the event of a major emergency or changing circumstances related to your travel destination.

For more information about international travel emergencies and assistance, go to https://internationaltravel.stanford.edu/.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Stanford is continuing to monitor the situation closely, with the health and wellbeing of our community firmly in mind.

For the most updated information about Stanford’s policies and response to COVID-19, visit https://ehs.stanford.edu/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19

March 4, 2020

To: BOSP Spring Quarter Participants and Emergency Contacts

In response to the rapidly evolving events surrounding COVID-19 and out of concern for the health and safety of our community, Stanford University is suspending all BOSP spring quarter programs scheduled to take place outside of the United States. This will affect 234 undergraduates currently planning to study abroad in eight international locations.

This decision follows the recent recommendation made by the University for all members of the community to reconsider any international travel plans. In addition to the spread of the virus itself, students may face unpredictable circumstances overseas during the spring quarter, including accessing health care while abroad, navigating disruptions to local services, and the potential for travel interruptions or restrictions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also issued guidance this week for institutes of higher education to consider suspending or postponing study abroad programs.

On-site instruction in BOSP Florence was suspended last week due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in northern Italy and an abundance of caution on the part of Stanford. Based on current intelligence, there are no plans to end other winter quarter programs early. BOSP continues to monitor guidance daily from the CDC, the U.S. Department of State, the World Health Organization, Stanford’s Public Health Policy Committee, as well as communicating regularly with on-site staff and consulting with peer institutions.

Stanford remains deeply committed to global education and the mission of BOSP. We intend to resume our programs as soon as we are able.

Below you’ll find FAQs that were created to help you navigate next steps including academic planning for spring quarter, making changes to travel arrangements, available housing on campus, and more. Our BOSP staff are prepared to support and assist you throughout this process.

What about housing for spring quarter?

All students who apply for spring quarter housing will be offered a housing assignment.

Students who currently live in student housing on the main Stanford campus, who will no longer be going overseas, may remain in their current room assignments. To do so, please submit a Services & Support ticket to request to rescind your termination for Spring Quarter. Your deadline to submit this help ticket is 5pm on Friday, March 6. If you submit your help ticket by the deadline, you will not have to change housing assignments for spring quarter.

Students with housing related questions can submit a help ticket for assistance or call the Housing Assignment office at 650-725-2810.

Who can I speak with about academic concerns, including my Spring Quarter course registration on campus?

All Spring quarter BOSP classes will be cancelled by the Office of the University Registrar by the end of day Friday, March 6, 2020, and as a result, previously enrolled students will be dropped from these classes. Please log in to Axess to adjust your Spring study list.

If you have questions or concerns about registering for classes for the spring quarter, please get in touch with your Academic Advisor (AAD or AARC advisor). To book an appointment with either your AAD or AARC Advisor please visit: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/advising/make-appointment.

What should I do about my plane ticket? Will Stanford reimburse me?

BOSP will reimburse airline change fees upon presentation of documentation and receipts. Many airlines are adjusting their policies due to the COVID-19 outbreak and this may impact your airline ticket. BOSP strongly suggests that you call (not attempt to do online) the issuer of your plane ticket, whether issued directly by an airline or by a travel agent, and inquire about any waivers or refunds that may apply to the specific ticket you purchased. You may also be assessed a “fare difference”; BOSP will not reimburse any “fare difference.”

This should be done as soon as possible and must be completed before your currently scheduled departure date.

Documentation and receipts may be submitted to BOSP at: https://forms.gle/msXWLur2tC35zpVN7

Please address any flight reimbursement concerns to bospsupport@stanford.edu

How will my University Bill be affected?

BOSP has taken action to update your student account to reflect the suspension of the program. The Financial Aid Office and Student Financial Services have been notified of your change in status and your University Bill has been updated. Your financial aid award will be revised this week to reflect your aid prior to the overseas adjustment. If you have specific questions about how your financial aid has been impacted, please contact the Financial Aid Office directly.

Your University account will be updated with any changes to your tuition and fees. Please allow time for these changes to be reflected on your account. If you have questions in regards to your University bill please contact the Student Services Center https://studentservicescenter.stanford.edu/contact-us.

How can I learn about future BOSP study away opportunities?

BOSP is committed to helping students participate in a future study away program. To inquire about participation, we encourage you to reach out to a BOSP Program Advisor for more information about your program or programs of interest. You can schedule a meeting with a BOSP advisor on our website, email us at bospstudy@lists.stanford.edu, or call our office's main phone line at (650) 723-3558.

Additional Resources

For more information about international travel emergencies and assistance, go to https://internationaltravel.stanford.edu/.

For the most updated information about Stanford’s policies and response to COVID-19, visit https://ehs.stanford.edu/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19

We appreciate your understanding during this time.

With thanks,

Harry J. Elam Jr.
Senior Vice Provost for Education
Vice President for the Arts
Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities
Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education

March 10, 2020

Dear BOSP Winter Quarter Program Participants and emergency contacts,

In response to the rapidly evolving events surrounding COVID-19 and out of concern for the health and safety of our community, Stanford has decided to transition in-person instruction to virtual instruction for the remainder of Winter Quarter for all Bing Overseas Studies Programs (BOSP) located outside of the United States. We are asking that students in these programs make plans to travel home as expeditiously as possible, where they will be able to remotely continue coursework and complete the academic term that is scheduled to end next week.

Rationale:

This decision follows the recent announcement to the University community by Provost Persis Drell to move in-person course instruction to online formats for the remainder of the winter quarter. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also issued guidance for institutes of higher education to consider suspending or postponing study abroad programs. In addition to risks related to the virus itself, students may face unpredictable circumstances overseas, including accessing health care while abroad, navigating disruptions to local services, and potential travel interruptions or restrictions.

We understand the disappointment and frustration this decision may produce and are committed to working closely with students and families to limit academic and personal disruption due to this rapidly evolving global health crisis.

Actions you must take: Stanford strongly recommends all students begin making travel arrangements to return to their primary or home residence (not Stanford campus) as expeditiously as possible. For international students and foreign nationals, especially for those who returning home at this moment is not possible, we will make on-campus housing available for you. Student Affairs will provide further details about availability and process for registering for on-campus, spring break housing due to extenuating circumstances.

If students have questions about their spring quarter housing assignments they should file a help ticket and the Housing Assignments staff will respond.

The FAQ below will address many of the questions you have as you make arrangements to return home.

We appreciate your understanding and patience as we continue to deal with this ongoing global health crisis and work to protect the health and safety of our program participants and the University community.

Shawna Knauff
Associate Vice Provost, Executive Director
Bing Overseas Studies Program
Stanford University


Your BOSP on-site staff are working closely with program faculty to confirm plans for you to complete your courses remotely. More details will be confirmed and communicated by BOSP on-site program staff imminently.

If you have questions or concerns about registering for classes for the spring quarter, please get in touch with your Academic Advisor (AAD or AARC advisor). To book an appointment with either your AAD or AARC Advisor please visit: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/advising/make-appointment.

Students must make arrangements to depart your program location as soon as possible and travel directly home. The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving, and will likely continue for the foreseeable future. As such, travel will continue to be uncertain, with potential complications that could make it difficult for you to travel back home in a timely manner.

Keep the following in mind as you change your flight:

  1. Many airlines are adjusting their policies in order to accommodate disruptions caused by the COVID-19 spread. Regardless of your current ticket category or refund policy (refundable, non-refundable, etc.), you should CALL YOUR AIRLINE OR YOUR TICKETING AGENT (do not do this online) in order to request a refund or discover what fees may apply to your changed plans. Do not assume that your ticket carries the same restrictions as it did at the time of purchase.
  2. BOSP will refund the cost of airline change fees, but not fare difference. Please complete the reimbursement request form before March 31st.
  3. If, after inquiring with your airline or ticket agent, you are unable to recover costs associated with your ticket change or cancellation, and if these costs represent significant financial hardship, please email bospsupport@stanford.edu to describe your attempt to recover costs for your ticket and describe the circumstances behind your financial hardship. BOSP will review individual circumstances on a case by case basis. Please note that in order for your request to be considered, you will need to upload proof of payment into the reimbursement request form for any associated expenses as a PDF document before March 31, 2020.
  4. Once you have confirmed your flight home, you must alert your program staff and register your travel with Stanford. It is very important that you register your travel so that the university will be able to contact you in the event of a major emergency or changing circumstances related to your travel destination.
  5. For general concerns or inquiries about reimbursement, please email bospsupport@stanford.edu.

All students must depart from winter quarter program locations and return home as soon as they possibly can. However, students who encounter travel difficulties are instructed to work with on-site program staff. Housing is not able to be extended beyond the original program departure date.

Stanford’s most recent Health Alert provides an overview of the virus, preventative measures, and travel-related information.

Stanford’s International Travel Assistance Program: International SOS can provide site-specific security information and allows you to sign up to receive health and safety alerts.


To stay informed on the evolving situation, please consult the below resources:

Stanford site for COVID-19 Information and Resources

BOSP site for study away and travel updates for COVID-19

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention destination guides for travelers

US Department of State resources for international travel

March 24, 2020

Dear BOSP Summer Quarter Program Participants,

In light of the ongoing global COVID-19 crisis and worldwide travel restrictions which are expected to remain in place for an indefinite period of time, Stanford University is suspending all BOSP summer quarter programs. This will affect 348 undergraduates accepted or waitlisted to study abroad with the Bing Overseas Studies Program this summer.

Affected BOSP summer quarter programs include Cape Town and Santiago, as well as BOSP overseas seminars scheduled to take place in Cambodia, Ghana, India, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Nepal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, and Vietnam. The decision also affects BOSP's summer internship programs in France, Japan, and Germany.

This University decision extends current restrictions and recommendations pertaining to international travel by Stanford students, faculty and staff, in line with current U.S. State Department and CDC guidance. We share the disappointment of our students who looked forward to a summer of learning and new experiences abroad. Stanford remains deeply committed to global education and the mission of BOSP. We intend to resume our programs as soon as we are able.

Below you’ll find FAQs that were created to help you navigate next steps including academic planning, making changes to travel arrangements, and more. Our BOSP staff are ready to support and assist you throughout this process. We appreciate your patience as we navigate through the uncertainty of our current circumstances.

All Summer Quarter BOSP classes will be canceled by the Office of the University Registrar.

If you have questions or concerns about academic planning, including registering for classes for the spring quarter, please get in touch with your Academic Advisor (AAD or AARC advisor). To book an appointment with either your AAD or AARC Advisor please visit: https://undergrad.stanford.edu/advising/make-appointment.

If you have already bought a ticket for a BOSP summer program, BOSP will reimburse a maximum of $500 USD for the cost to change your tickets (change fee, fare difference, cancellation fee, new ticket cost if that was the least expensive option). Reimbursement requests will be considered upon presentation of documentation and receipts. Many airlines are adjusting their policies due to the COVID-19 outbreak and this may impact your airline ticket.

BOSP strongly suggests that you call (not attempt to do online) the issuer of your plane ticket, whether issued directly by an airline or by a travel agent, and inquire about any waivers or refunds that may apply to the specific ticket you purchased.

This should be done as soon as possible and must be completed before your currently scheduled departure date.

Documentation and receipts must be submitted to BOSP at: https://forms.gle/msXWLur2tC35zpVN7

Please address any flight reimbursement concerns to bospsupport@stanford.edu.

BOSP is committed to helping students participate in a future study away program. We are currently confirming a plan which would give special consideration to applicants whose plans have been disrupted by spring and summer program suspensions. We will share details with you directly via email in the near future.

As always, we encourage you to reach out to BOSP for more information about our programs or to address your questions. Please visit our advising webpage for more information and to connect with a BOSP staff member. You may also email us at bospstudy@lists.stanford.edu or call our office's main phone line at (650) 723-3558.

Additional Resources

For more information about international travel emergencies and assistance, go to https://internationaltravel.stanford.edu.

For the most updated information about Stanford’s policies and response to COVID-19, visit https://ehs.stanford.edu/news/novel-coronavirus-covid-19

BOSP will continue to do all we can to serve our program participants and protect their health and safety. We appreciate your understanding and patience as we deal with this ongoing global health crisis.

With thanks,
Harry J. Elam Jr.
Senior Vice Provost for Education
Vice President for the Arts
Freeman-Thornton Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education
Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities
Bass University Fellow in Undergraduate Education