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COVID-19 Updates


To support WKU's international travelers, Global Learning and International Affairs is monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide. We seek to provide informed responses to our community during this continually evolving situation. We consult the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of State, international education professional organizations, other nation's travel policies, and other reliable sources to inform our decision-making.  Study abroad represents an exceptional learning opportunity and we are committed to getting WKU students abroad, but safety must come first. 

 

FAQs for Students:

Yes! WKU has a Student International Travel Policy (Policy Number 0.1130) that you can access here. This policy applies to any student traveling under the auspices of the university through the use of funds, group affiliation (e.g., through “affiliated” or “associated” student organizations, service learning, or adventure travel), or to fulfill academic requirements, or for experiential learning experiences. These experiences include, but are not limited to study, service learning, research, internship, student teaching, practicum or capstone project, or experiential learning. All classes of students fall under this policy, including but not limited to: non-degree, undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral. This policy does not apply to international travel for solely personal purposes such as vacation or non-university work-related activity that has no affiliation with the university.

WKU’s travel policy for students is primarily based on the U.S. Department of State Travel Advisories 

  • Travel to locations with USDOS Travel Advisory Level 1- “Exercise Normal Precautions,” or Level 2 - “Exercise Increased Caution,” is unrestricted so long as all pre-departure and in-country requirements are followed. 
  • Travel to locations with a USDOS Travel Advisory Level 3- “Reconsider Travel,” is restricted. Students must file an appeal through the International Travel Risk Management Committee. The appeal is reviewed by the committee who then makes a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost makes the final determination. Appeal approval is not guaranteed. Contact our office for more information on the appeal process.
  • Travel to locations with a USDOS Travel Advisory Level 4- “Do Not Travel,” is prohibited.

Additionally, per the International Travel Registration policy (Policy Number 1.1020), all university travelers are required to register their international travel with Global Learning & International Affairs. Students participating on a credit-bearing opportunity must complete a WKU study abroad application and students participating on a non-credit experience must complete the WKU Student International Travel Registry. 

Yes, planning for study abroad in a future term is possible right now, but you should be prepared to navigate processes that can be complex and require greater flexibility. It is important to plan ahead and research, research, research. Per the WKU Student International Travel Policy, WKU students are able to travel to locations with a U.S Department of State Travel Advisory Level 1- “Exercise Normal Precautions,” or Level 2 - “Exercise Increased Caution.” 

Travel to locations with a USDOS Travel Advisory Level 3- “Reconsider Travel,” is restricted. Students must submit an appeal to travel to the International Travel Risk Management Committee to have their travel to Level 3 locations considered. Appeal approval is not guaranteed. 

Travel to locations with a USDOS Travel Advisory Level 4- “Do Not Travel,” is prohibited. You can submit a WKU study abroad application for a future program in a location that is currently a Level 4, but your travel will not be approved until the Advisory level changes.  

During the pandemic, Travel Advisory Levels have been changing frequently. 

We recommend students look into having a back-up program location and always having a back-up for coursework and housing should you not be able to travel at all. 

Per the U.S. Department of State (USDOS): The U.S. Department of State issues a Travel Advisory for each country in the world. Travel Advisories follow a consistent format and use plain language to help U.S. citizens find and use important security information. Travel Advisories apply up to four standard levels of advice, describe the risks, and provide clear actions U.S. citizens should take to help ensure their safety.  

Levels of advice may vary for specific locations or areas within a country.  

To see a complete list of Travel Advisories for every country in the world, see travel.state.gov/traveladvisories.  

The four standard levels of Advisories are as follows: 

Level 1- Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel. Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time. 

Level 2- Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  

Level 3- Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. 

Level 4- Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. 

If you are not a U.S. citizen, in addition the USDOS Travel Advisories, you should review the equivalent of your home country's travel advisory system and its recommendations for the locations you are considering going to.

In most cases, yes, especially as it pertains to participating on study abroad programs and other university-related international travel. The policy does have one exemption which reads as follows, "An international student who holds a U.S. student visa and who is returning to their home country for a university-sponsored experience where the home location has a USDOS Level 3 or 4 advisory, need not file a travel appeal. GLIA may require proof of citizenship/permanent residency prior to departure. Such students are still required to complete the standard pre-departure requirements."

Non-U.S. citizens should review both the U.S. Department of State location-specific information and information provided by their home country's government on their intended location. Information on the U.S. Department of State & U.S. Embassy pages will typically only address items such as entry requirements for U.S. citizens. You will need to research entry requirements and visa-related items as it pertains to the passport you are travelling under. 

Typically, the WKU International Travel Risk Management Committee makes decisions about Level 4 locations approximately 60 days prior to the start of the term in which the program will take place. 

Current Decision Dates:

  • Summer 2022- March 15, 2022
  • Summer 2022 (WKU Faculty-Led Programs Only)- February 15, 2022

If a location changes to a Level 4 after the above dates, travel will not be permitted and any approvals given will be rescinded. 

WKU does not currently require the COVID-19 vaccination to study abroad, with the exception of WKU Faculty-Led Programs which do require all participants to be fully vaccinated. However, it is highly recommended for all other international travelers as most program providers and/or host countries do require the COVID-19 vaccination. In order to study abroad, you must meet the requirements of your program provider, host institution, and/or intended program location(s). Being unvaccinated will likely largely impact your ability to participate in activities while on-site, such as entering dining establishments and other cultural sites, as well as result in the need for multiple COVID-19 tests for the duration of your stay that will have to be paid for out-of-pocket. 

Keep in mind that receiving a booster vaccine shot may be required to be considered fully vaccinated.

You should consult with your program provider to check their policies regarding vaccine requirements. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Embassies, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), and host country governmental websites are excellent resources for finding more information on vaccine requirements.  

Yes! For the foreseeable future, all students wanting to participate on an international program will need to meet with a staff advisor once they have chosen a program and are ready to submit their WKU application. Having an advising meeting is one of the requirements to have your application accepted.  

If you are in the beginning stages of planning your experience, we recommend that you first meet with one of our Global Learning Ambassador for a peer advising session.

Find out more about advising and scheduling a meeting here

All WKU students participating on a credit-bearing international opportunity must submit a WKU study abroad application. If you are planning to participate on a non-credit opportunity, you must complete the WKU Student International Travel Registry. 

WKU Global Learning & International Affairs is committed to getting WKU students abroad, but safety comes first. Nothing about travel during a pandemic is predictable and it can pose unanticipated challenges and costs. Global learning experiences during the pandemic will be different from what you might have imagined and so it is important for you to manage your expectations of the experience. Patience and flexibility are key. The guide below includes examples of potential impacts to your planned global learning experience as it could related to academics, finances, health & wellness, travel, and housing, but it is not exhaustive. 

It is crucial to have a back-up plan for your coursework and housing should you not be able to travel on your program. 

Travel During a Pandemic Guide 

Each program has its own policies related to refunds and withdrawals. Check with your program provider and/or host institution to learn about their policies. Researching and knowing program cancellation/withdrawal policies is the student’s responsibility. Students are financially obligated to pay any withdrawal penalties and/or non-refundable program fees charged to them, including if approval to travel by WKU is not given or rescinded. 

If you are participating in a WKU Faculty-Led Program, check your program’s Participation Contract. You can find this within the program’s application.  

In addition to the comprehensive international medical and security insurance that is required for all WKU students travelling abroad on University-supported/related activities (provided by WKU or program provider), it is highly recommend for students to purchase additional travel cancellation/interruption insurance, including Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance. 

Depending upon your intended location, you may need to complete a Student Appeal to Travel to Restricted Locations per the WKU Student International Travel Policy 

Travel to locations with a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory Level 3- “Reconsider Travel,” is restricted. Students must file an appeal through the International Travel Risk Management Committee. The appeal is reviewed by the committee who then makes a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost makes the final determination. Appeal approval is not guaranteed.  

In general, students should plan to need to file appeals approximately 60 days prior to the term in which they intend to travel.  

  • Summer 2022 Appeal Deadline: March 15, 2022

Further information about the appeal process and deadlines will be provided within the WKU study abroad application and/or student travel registry materials, as well as receiving communication from Global Learning & International Affairs.

*Students participating on a WKU Faculty-Led Program do not submit individual appeals. WKU program leaders will submit an appeal on behalf of the program. If the appeal is approved, participating students should expect additional application materials. 

Deadlines for appeal submission are typically around 60 days prior to the start of the term in which you plan to be abroad. Our office will communicate with you about appeal deadlines and include information in your WKU study abroad application.

Current set deadlines:

  • Summer 2022 Appeal Deadline: March 15, 2022

It is important to consider the appeal deadline with regards to the withdrawal and cancellation policies of your intended travel. You will be responsible for any financial withdrawal penalities if your appeal is not approved.

More info coming soon for students planning to study abroad in Summer 2022 or later.

No. Approval of an appeal to travel is not guaranteed. Appeals are carefully reviewed by the International Travel Risk Management Committee. Based upon the information you include in your appeal the ITRMC makes a recommendation to the Provost. The Provost reads each appeal, considers each individual’s circumstances and the ITRMC’s recommendation to make a final determination.  

Considerations for approval include, but are not limited to, the compelling justification for the academic program/experience to be in the high-risk location; relevance and meaningfulness of the academic goals; detailed description of the risks associated with travel to the location, foreseeable health or safety concerns and their mitigation measures; traveler’s experience; and the level of support on-site. 

We are committed to getting WKU students abroad, but safety comes first and, especially during a global pandemic, it's important that students show through the appeal process that they have really researched their travel and can demonstrate a good understanding of the current situation and implications of travelling during this time. 

Appeal submissions should be taken seriously. They are reviewed by the International Travel Risk Management Committee (ITRMC) which makes a recommendation to the Provost, who also reviews the appeals and makes the final decision. The ITRMC is made up of staff, faculty, emergency management personnel, and a student representative.  

It is important to show the committee and the Provost that you have researched your travel and can demonstrate a good understanding of the current situation in your program’s location(s) and the implication of travelling to a location under a Level 3 Travel Advisory. Overwhelm the committee with information:

  • Research your location using, at a minimum, the U.S. Department of State country specific pages, Travel Advisory pages, Embassy resources, and Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
    • If you are not a U.S. citizen, in addition to the resources above, include information and any related advisories issued by your home country for your intended location(s).
  • Utilize your resources- speak with your program provider and/or host institution to find out more information about the situation on-site.
  • Include any pre-departure guides and information provided to you by your provider/host institution with your appeal.
  • Carefully read and fully respond to all questions in the appeal. Be specific.  
  • Provide detailed answers that address all risks articulated in the Department of State and CDC advisories. Do not only address COVID risk factors. 
  • Provide local support resources, phone numbers, addresses, websites that you or WKU can refer to for support and assistance.
  • Carefully read all WKU application materials and emails received from our office for information on the appeal process & deadlines.
  • Seek advice from one of our staff advisors on completing and reviewing your appeal prior to the deadline.
  • Participate in an appeal Q&A or workshop session offered by WKU Global.

Keep in mind that approval of your appeal is not guaranteed. You should research and be aware of any withdrawal/cancellation penalties associated with any aspect of your intended travel and avoid making non-refundable payments.

It is important that you are monitoring the Travel Advisory for your intended location(s) during the application process, before departure, and while on-site. If a location increases to a Level 3, “Reconsider Travel,” prior to departure then you will need to submit an appeal. If a location increases to a Level 4, “Do Not Travel” prior to departure then approval to travel will not be granted.  

Any approval to travel is provisional, meaning that it can be rescinded at any time if warranted by the safety and/or health situation of the location or by the student’s failure to complete required pre-departure and on-site processes.  

If while you are abroad your location increases to a Level 4, “Do Not Travel,” Advisory, the International Travel Risk Management Committee will review student travel currently in progress and make recommendations to the Provost who will determine if such activity may continue.  

During the pandemic, Travel Advisory Levels have been changing frequently. This should be taken into consideration when making any financial commitments related to your travel.

It is crucial to have a back-up plan for completing your course-work (i.e. registering for courses at WKU for the term you plan to be away) and having a back-up plan for housing in the case that you are not able to travel. 

 

 



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 Last Modified 1/24/22