COVID-19 FAQ's

For the most up-to-date information on the University's response to COVID-19 (coronavirus) can be found at wmich.edu/covid-19. The following are frequently asked questions about study abroad-related travel given the current outbreak of COVID-19. 

 

Q: When does WMU SA cancel a study program that was previously approved to run? 

A: When the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issues a level 3 travel advisory. For now, and subject to change, programs going to countries without a travel advisory or with advisories levels of 1 or 2 are scheduled to run as planned.

Q: What if a committed student withdraws a program traveling to a non-level 3 country (for any reason) prior to leaving the States?  

A: For Summer 1 and beyond: WMU will refund all fees except for those that cannot be recovered from a third party.

Q: What if a (third-party) provider or a university partner cancels a program (at any Level) prior to the student leaving the United States?  

A: For Summer 1 and beyond: WMU will refund all fees except for those that cannot be recovered from a third party.

Q: What if a hosting institution, third-party provider, or WMU cancels a program during official program dates?  

A: Each case is likely to be different, from complete cancellation to offering students the ability to finish a program online. WMU SA will charge the enrollment fee and work with the provider/university to recuperate recoverable expenses. WMU SA specialist will request that all participants provide a written affirmation that they received the notification to depart from the impacted country(ies) and confirmation of departure detail. If the program is in a country designated by the CDC as Level 3 “Avoid Nonessential Travel,” we will require acknowledgement of direction to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days, and the address where self-quarantine will occur.

Q: What costs/fees does SA return/charge students if a student committed to a program but WMU SA later cancelled the program prior to departure due to level 3?    

A: WMU will refund all fees except for those that cannot be recovered from a third party.

Q: What if a student abroad opts to return home prior to the conclusion of a program while their country or region of study is not designated a level 3? 

A: Student pays commitment fee and non-recoverable expenses. Student bears all costs associated with returning to the States. Provision of academic credit will be at the discretion of the hosting institution.

Q: What if a faculty director decides to cancel a program prior to leaving the States when the country or countries visited are not level 3? 

A: Faculty Directors will not be mandated to travel when they have concerns about COVID-19. In this event, WMU SA contacts respective dean to determine if a different faculty director can teach the course and accompany the students abroad. If a different faculty director cannot teach the course, the program will be cancelled, and students will not be charged.

Q: Are faculty directors reimbursed for non-refundable charges if a program is cancelled? 

A: Yes.

Q: What if students on a faculty-led program leave the States when a country is level 2, but the CDC changes the level to 3 while they are out of the country?  

A: WMU will refund all fees except for those that cannot be recovered from a third party.

Q: When students are abroad and return to the States, do they have to pay to make changes to their own airplane tickets? 

A: Yes, students are responsible for costs associated with making return arrangements. Most carriers, however, are working with travelers to make adjustments for no fee or nominal fees. All future travelers are encouraged to purchase travel insurance on their flight.

Q: What if students need to return to the States in a return scenario that is approved in this document, but informs WMU SA that they do not have enough funds to pay for airfare? 

A: WMU SA will offer to provide financial assistance in booking the flight. Student will remain responsible for paying that expense by having it billed back to their student account. Students may also apply for emergency funding.

Q: What if a student refuses to return to the States when a program is cancelled? 

The student will be notified that they are being considered non-complaint. WMU will follow standard Student Conduct procedures.

Q: Will WMU SA provide GeoBlue health insurance for students who remain abroad despite being encouraged to return to the States? 

A: Standard GeoBlue coverage policy applies; coverage during the official program dates (with 2 days prior and after); students have the option to purchase additional coverage from GeoBlue or a different provider if they will be abroad outside of official program dates.

Q: Do students forfeit HIGE study abroad scholarships for canceled programs? 

A: Yes, if the student decides to do a full withdrawal from the program (earning zero credits).

No, if the program is canceled or unforeseen events convinced the student to return and the option to complete credits from the U.S. is available (students must be enrolled in credits to maintain scholarship funding).

The one exception is the Mesara Airfare Scholarship; this donor has indicated students do not have to return Mesara funding to HIGE if they have already purchased their ticket and the program is subsequently cancelled due to the virus, as long as they show that they have purchased the ticket and are unable to get a refund.

Q: What if a committed student gets a note from a doctor stating medical reasons (e.g., debilitated immune system) for not going to a level 2 country?

A: WMU SA charges the student only the enrollment fee.

Q: Are returning students required to quarantine upon arrival? 

A: Follow WMU guidance on self-quarantine requirements outlined here: COVID-19.Latest guidance issued March 5, 2020.

Q: What if participants are quarantined outside the United States?  

A: Participants are expected to follow country guidelines and requirements. WMU SA will notify U.S. Embassy.

Q: What is covered by GeoBlue Medical insurance?   

A: With respect to coverage of eligible members who contract COVID-19, the GeoBlue medical plan would cover eligible medical costs, including quarantine in a hospital/medical setting abroad. It would not cover preventive quarantine in a hotel, cruise ship, or any other location. The plan would cover medical evacuation if deemed medically appropriate for the illness/injury, subject to the usual plan provisions.

Q: What if participants are quarantined upon arrival to the United States? 

A: If a participant is mandated to quarantine by the U.S. government, they must follow that instruction. Students returning from a country designated level 3 by the CDC (including travel through one of these countries) will be asked to self-quarantine for a minimum of fourteen days and provide the address where they will be staying to WMU Study Abroad.

Q: Who pays quarantine expenses in the United States? 

A: The student or their domestic health insurance. Neither GeoBlue nor WMU SA pays expenses related to quarantine in the States.

Q: Does GeoBlue pay medical costs for students abroad who do not exhibit symptoms but wish to be tested? 

A: No, medical visits when no symptoms are present are not covered. However, GeoBlue does cover payment for clients who state they do not feel well at intake. Follow GeoBlue policies.

Q: Does GeoBlue cover repatriation for pandemics? 

A: GeoBlue would continue to provide support as needed in the form of medical monitoring, direct payment of medical expenses, bedside visit benefit coordination (with its own obvious challenges considering patients would be in isolation) and any other services routinely provided.

Q: What is the “Emergency” aspect of the GeoBlue insurance coverage? 

The Political, Security and Natural Disaster coverage offered through Drum Cussac (GeoBlue affiliate) does not include evacuation coverage for crises related to medical or health reasons, only local political or security situations.

Q: What should students/parents/faculty do if they strongly disagree with GeoBlue/Drum Cussac’s decision not to repatriate due to the Coronavirus? 

A: Call GeoBlue.