Over 900 students, faculty and staff have been around the world on 38 different study abroad programs, according to the Global Education Center. As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surges worldwide, the GEC is working closely with the Healthy Elon Committee and Elon administrators to navigate obstacles that programs have been facing.

GEC program managers are in communication with travel agency partners, on-site providers and program leaders to understand and act upon any travel-related changes or challenges for program participants that have occurred. Program leaders communicate this information directly with their students. The GEC launched a Winter Term Travel Status page to share any significant changes with students, their families and the campus community. 

Each study abroad program is assessed individually based on the country’s local health conditions, restrictions, isolation requirements and on-site partners that can help facilitate the program if needed, according to the GEC.

According to the GEC, each site or specific trip has an outline to allow the program to continue if students or program leaders test positive for COVID-19. In Ireland, two program leaders and one student tested positive this week for COVID-19 and are isolating in compliance with Ireland’s health regulations. 

The GEC told Elon News Network in a statement that the program itinerary is being adjusted to accommodate a longer stay for participants in their current city and those who are required to isolate will meet up with the group after it moves to its next destination.

More than 250 students are set to study abroad during the spring semester. While many of those students have already traveled to their host destinations and started their programs, others will depart later this month and into February. The availability of COVID-19 testing and the potential for changes in host countries’ regulations have created many of the same challenges encountered with winter term programs, according to the GEC. Students who will be participating in longer abroad programs are encouraged to take advantage of the testing resources available through Elon.