An illustration of a plane in front of a map.
Illustration by Maya Winshell

Overseas and Off-Campus Programs prepares to send students abroad next semester

Studying abroad can be one of the most memorable experiences for college students. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Lewis & Clark programs were canceled for both Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. This came after all Spring 2020 overseas programs were shut down once the World Health Organization declared a pandemic and dozens of countries enacted international travel bans. Looking ahead to next year, Overseas and Off-Campus Programs is planning for students to begin studying abroad again in Fall 2021. 

“This spring we will be planning for next Fall’s programs and will be developing COVID-19-related plans for each program,” Assistant Director Kaitlin Sommerfeld said via email. “It’s very much a moving target at this time — given the new variants of the virus that are now circulating, and the continued roll-out of vaccines. It’s very hard to say what the study abroad landscape will look like nine months from now. But we are optimistic that it will be possible to safely run programs in the next academic year.”

By June 1, the office will decide whether or not to proceed with the Fall 2021 trips. According to their website, students will be able to defer their study abroad to a future semester or have the option of withdrawing from the program entirely.

Over the course of the pandemic, the Overseas office has been working to develop procedures that ensure the health and safety of all students who choose to travel abroad next year. 

“As we plan to have students go abroad in the Fall of 2021, we will be developing a country-by-country system for evaluating whether it is safe to send students, and how we might return students home if that becomes necessary,” Sommerfeld said.

The Overseas office has also been working with outside partners to ensure the well-being of students once they are abroad.

“It’s important to note that our partners abroad will also have on-the-ground protocols for managing risks associated with COVID-19, and we will be working with them closely to develop plans for student health and safety,” Sommerfeld said. “Additionally, our office just participated in a seminar offered by the US Department of State that detailed their COVID-19 travel guidance and we will incorporate that information into our planning this spring.” 

For Spring 2022, the trips being offered are Australia (Regional Area Study), London (Fine Arts), Morocco (Regional Area Study) and New Zealand (Biology). According to Sommerfeld, no programs for Spring 2022 were eliminated due to COVID-19. The deadline for Spring 2022 applications has already passed, but students can explore the Overseas website to learn more about studying abroad and potential trips being offered in the future. 

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