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Announcements : Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

Announcement: Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

Latest Updates and FAQs

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates 

Mason Statue Sunset, cropped News and Announcements FAQs

GEO has moved online

GEO is prepared to assist you at any time of day or night. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions or concerns.

Email GoAbroad@gmu.edu
Monday – Friday (9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT) +1–703–993–2154
Outside of Office Hours (24/7) +1–703–993–7500

News and Announcements

All Summer 2020 Study Abroad Programs Cancelled

In wake of the recent elevation of the U.S. Department of State Global Health Advisory to “Level 4: Do Not Travel,” its highest level, Mason and the Global Education Office have cancelled all summer study abroad programs.

This was not an easy decision. GEO knows this news is extremely disappointing for you, as it is to our staff and the wonderful faculty who have put so much work in creating these opportunities. However, GEO believes that we must strike the balance in favor of caution given the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. GEO hopes by making this decision now students will have sufficient time to take advantage of other opportunities this summer.  

Students who have submitted application deposits and first payments will receive a refund. These will be processed within 30 days.
(March 20, 2020)

U.S. State Department Raises Travel Advisory to Level 4

The coronavirus pandemic pandemic has been rapidly evolving with new developments occurring frequently. We want to reassure you that GEO is here to support you. We understand that this has been a very stressful and uncertain time for you and we are working to make your experience as less stressful as possible

Today the U.S. Department of State raised the worldwide travel advisory level to 4. As a result, you are required to return to your permanent residence in the U.S. as soon as possible per University Policy 1134. We know this is a great disappointment to you.

++Students in Morocco and Peru: please see specific instructions at bottom of this message.++
 

What to do next: 

  • Contact your respective airline to ask if existing return tickets can be honored at an earlier date. As airlines are inundated with calls, try online or with the airline’s mobile app.
  • If you have trouble making arrangements, or financing the flight change, Mason GEO can assist. Please reach out to us at the number below. 
  • If you incur additional travel costs (change fees) you can email receipts to geofin@gmu.edu and masonled@gmu.edu and we will work on a reimbursement. 
  • Contact GEO with your return plans. We want to know when everyone gets home safely. 
GEO has been reaching out to host institutions regarding their plans for continuation of the semester. In addition to our efforts you should, if possible:
  • Contact the international office at your host university for instructions on how you might continue with your coursework. 
  • Make sure that you have contact information for your faculty too as you may need to be proactive in making academic arrangements. 
GEO is prepared to assist you at any time of day or night. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your questions or concerns:
 
Monday – Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT: +1–703–993–2154
Outside of Office Hours (24/7): +1–703–993–7500 
GEO Email: GoAbroad@gmu.edu

Remember once you return home you must self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing. 

Staff in the GEO office in Johnson Center will be moving to telework starting Friday, March 20. We are still working. If you call and get our voice mail please leave a message as it will be routed to our staff. The 24/7 number (+1–703–993–7500) will still be answered.


++Students in Morocco and Peru++

Currently the governments of Morocco and Peru have shut down all in-bound and out-bound travel. At this time they have not announced a reopen date. GEO will continue to monitor for status changes and contact you as soon as we receive information of any changes. 


In the meantime:  

  • Stay registered with the STEP program here.
  • Check your Mason and host institution email accounts regularly for updates GEO.
(March 19, 2020)

Update for Students Currently Abroad on Semester Programs

On Wednesday, March 11, President Trump announced that foreign nationals who have been in or through Europe (defined as the Schengen Area) in the last 14 days will not be able to travel to the U.S. for 30 days, effective this Friday at midnight, EDT.
 
The Global Education Office understands that this new announcement has alarmed, even unsettled, many in the Mason community. We know this is a difficult situation, but please know that we have been working hard to understand the full implications of the announcement and to support students currently abroad.
 
For all semester students currently abroad:

  • The Global Education Office (GEO) recommends remaining in place to lessen the risk of exposure and transmission of the virus through travel and the uncertainty with possible travel interruptions in the next few days. GEO and your host institution will continue to provide onsite support.
  • Given the uncertainty that the announcement creates, we understand that you might prefer to return to U.S. In that case, GEO will provide assistance with travel arrangements to the extent possible. Where possible, we will work with the host institution to provide for the continuation of coursework in this case. Students in these situations will have to be vigilant about maintaining contact with their professors and continuing their studies. Please understand that it will take time to make these individual arrangements. 

Travelers who travel through Europe may be subject to airport evaluations, restrictions, and quarantines - we hope that these will not apply to any of you, but you should be prepared when you travel. As we have seen with the President’s announcement, restrictions can be put in place quickly anywhere in the world. Please keep this in mind when scheduling any independent travel. GEO recommends not traveling outside of your host country.
 
Additional information about Mason’s response can be found on the university’s coronavirus website, www2.gmu.edu/coronavirus.
 
Please reach out to the Global Education Office at goabroad@gmu.edu if you have questions.

(March 13, 2020)

Suspending Outbound Student International Travel

The University is suspending ALL outbound student international travel, effective Friday, March 6 through May 15, 2020. This includes all spring break study abroad programs and spring semester programs that have yet to commence.

At this time, all students currently abroad on semester programs are not being asked to return and can continue their program to completion, subject to any additional increased advisories from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. State Department.

If you had plans to participate in a GEO spring break program in the coming week, we will be in touch with you shortly regarding next steps. A separate message regarding reimbursement will follow shortly.

For more information on COVID-19:

Please refer to the University announcement for more information and reach out to our office with immediate concerns.

For program-specific questions:

For specific questions about your program, please do not hesitate to reach out to your program administrator.

(March 5, 2020)

Monitoring the COVID-19 Outbreak

  • Summer programs in South Korea and Italy have not been suspended, subject to review closer to departure.
  • Summer programs in China have been cancelled.
  • If GEO decides to cancel a program for any reason, committed students would receive a full refund of fees paid to GEO.

The Global Education Office wants the Mason community to know that we continue to closely monitor the ongoing outbreak of the respiratory illness COVID-19 that has spread to at least 53 countries worldwide. In responding to emerging global health concerns of any kind, we rely on expert guidance from federal and international sources, namely the U.S. Department of State, the Center for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization, to assess the risk to our travelers. As it pertains to the COVID-19 outbreak, the U.S. Department of State, the WHO, and the CDC have not issued guidance advising against international travel, with the exception of travel to mainland China, South Korea, and Italy, instead recommending a range of precautions.

For those students currently in South Korea and Italy on semester programs, we are working closely with partner institutions there to enact a solution that first and foremost takes into account the health and well-being of our students. In addition, we will seek equitable solutions to any academic and financial challenges that might arise from such decisions. As we are sure you can appreciate, this is a highly dynamic situation, with new information emerging hourly, and because of this, the status of any program is subject to change. The Global Education Office will directly contact students with any updates to their program.

Some countries, including the United States, have taken the initiative to impose their own travel restrictions that could hinder or prevent international travel in the coming weeks and months. We encourage all students to monitor developments through the State Department and CDC websites, as well as local news sources.

For travelers at home and abroad, the CDC recommends preventative actions against the spread of respiratory diseases, such as to:

  • Avoid close contact with those who are sick
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth 

The CDC does not currently recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Please refer to the CDC website for more information.

We understand that the news surrounding the spread of this coronavirus may cause concern, even alarm, for many and that personal tolerance for risk will vary. We recognize that final decisions on participation in abroad programs will be made at home between students and their loved ones. We will respect those decisions and if necessary, will coordinate assistance with returning home and the completion of alternative or remote coursework where possible. The awarding of academic credit will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and cannot be guaranteed.

Please contact our office with any concerns regarding the emerging coronavirus situation.

(March 5, 2020)

FAQs: Coronavirus and Study Abroad

For Spring Semester programs: What to do next

The fastest way to get home is to contact your respective airline. Doing this through the airline’s website or mobile app will probably be quicker than calling. There are very long wait times to for call centers.

Ask if existing return tickets can be honored at an earlier date.
Yes. GEO can assist you in making arrangements or financing the flight change.

Please reach out to us at the number below and/or emails below:
Mason GEO Contacts
GEO Email GoAbroad@gmu.edu
GEO Finance GeoFin@gmu.edu
GEO International Exchange IntlEx@gmu.edu
Monday – Friday
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT
+1–703–993–2154
Outside of Office Hours (24/7) +1–703–993–7500
  • If you incur additional travel costs (change fees) you can email receipts to geofin@gmu.edu and masonled@gmu.edu and we will work on a reimbursement.
  • Contact GEO with your return plans. We want to know when everyone gets home safely.
  • Remember once you return home you must self-quarantine for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor your health, and practice social distancing.
  • GEO has been reaching out to host institutions regarding their plans for the continuation of the semester.
  • Many universities are struggling with moving online. We will be in touch with students as information and instruction from institutions become available.

In addition to our efforts you should, if possible:

  • Contact the international office at your host university for instructions on how you might continue with your coursework.
  • Make sure that you have contact information for your faculty too as you may need to be proactive in making academic arrangements.
  • Stay registered with the U.S. State Department S.T.E.P. program here.
  • GEO will continue to monitor for status changes and contact you as soon as we receive information of any changes.
  • Check your Mason and host institution email accounts regularly for updates.

Due to how quickly things can change in country, it is imperative that you are vigilant regarding in-country U.S. Embassy and Consulate messaging. In many of these instances the U.S. Government will charter aircraft. GEO will cover the cost of those chartered flights. If you need GEO to confirm with embassy personnel please contact the after-hours number immediately. +1–703–993–7500 (or via WhatsApp: +1 (571) 758-7401)
While we are reaching out to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need attention. If yesterday you said you are fine and today you are not, no trouble. None of us have lived through something like this before. We are here. Reach out to us! GEO is prepared to assist you at any time of day or night.
Mason GEO Contacts
GEO Email GoAbroad@gmu.edu
Monday – Friday
9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT
+1–703–993–2154
Outside of Office Hours (24/7) +1–703–993–7500
Staff in the GEO office in Johnson Center will be moving to telework starting Friday, March 20. If you call and get our voicemail please leave a message as it will be routed to our staff. The 24/7 number (+1–703–993–7500) will still be answered as always.

Mental Health

This can be a distressing time. If you are in need of mental health assistance, please contact our international assistance provider, Mercer/AXA, to locate mental health providers. We encourage you to stay connected (via phone, chat, etc.) with your social networks, including parents, family members, and friends, to share how you’re feeling and get support.

Mercer Campus Travel Assistance: +1–312–935–3542

For Cancelled Spring Break Programs

Yes. GEO is working on refunding program fees for committed students on all spring break programs that are suspended. It will take time for refunds to appear on student's accounts.
GEO is currently working with Mason faculty about credit options, which may be program dependent. We will have an update on credit options soon.
For group flights (purchased through GEO), all tickets were cancelled. You will receive the cost of the ticket in your refund. For tickets booked individually, you may be able to use your ticket for personal travel. If you are seeking a refund for tickets purchased individually, you must first contact the customer service number for the airline or online travel agency. Due to the global reach of COVID-19, many airlines are waiving change fees or issuing refunds. If this is not possible, please reach out to our office with documentation from the airline or online travel agency confirming that they will not issue a full refund or voucher.
Students arriving back into the US from countries with a CDC Level 3 warning are NOT to come to the Mason campus for a period of 14 days. This policy applies to CDC Travel Notices issued before or during travel. This University measure is not meant to be a punishment, but rather to remain consistent with guidance from the CDC for travelers arriving from countries with widespread transmission. Official Mason guidance will be posted on this website in the coming days.
While students await reimbursement, they will not be subject to late fees, account holds, or be sent to collections for not paying charges.