Tag: Study

Study abroad programs are letting U.S. students travel again. But it’s not without challenges.

Last fall, Elon University in North Carolina had 550 students studying abroad. This fall, they have just 13. They are expecting that number to increase substantially as study abroad advisers are seeing an uptick of (virtual) appointment requests.

© The Washington Post illustration; iStock

“We’ve actually opened our cycle of applications for fall 2021 and we have loads and loads of applications already,” says Rhonda Waller, the university’s executive director of global engagement.

Americans are not allowed to enter many international borders, including the European Union, but there are exceptions for people traveling for work, emergencies and school. While the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak was chaotic for U.S. students abroad, as exchange programs were canceled and borders closed, students are taking the opportunity to study abroad again now that they have been given the green light.

When can Americans travel to Europe again? We asked 4 insiders.

“For a lot of families, it was a risk calculation,” Waller says. “You do have to get on an airplane and that’s definitely part of the calculus as part of their thinking. But once you get off that airplane, some of these locations are probably looking actually pretty favorable compared to the relative conditions and the positivity rates here in the United States.”

Before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of U.S. students were studying abroad each year. In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 341,750 students studied abroad for academic credit, with the U.K., Italy, Spain, France and Germany as the most popular destinations, according to the most recent stats available from the Institute of International Education.

Waller says she advises students to be optimistic as well as cautious and flexible while they plan study abroad experiences since complications can arise. Students can even register for classes at Elon’s North Carolina campus in case their study abroad plans fall through at the last minute.

How much does a hotel’s ventilation system matter right now? We asked the experts.

Once students arrive overseas, they are in the hands of the local study abroad partners who are in charge of making adjustments for the coronavirus, from health screenings and quarantining upon arrival to adjustments to classroom settings. However, a travel abroad student’s experience will depend on where they are studying. Even if students choose destinations where coronavirus cases are currently low, it is impossible to know what the situation will be once they actually arrive.

At the American University of Paris, neurology student Morgan Phillips, 21, says class sizes are small and desks are socially distanced. However, students are given the option of choosing online learning if they are not comfortable coming to class in person. “Obviously everybody wears masks, but everything else seems pretty normal,” says Phillips, who moved from New York City.

In Florence, American graduate student Stef Ferrari, 36, has her temperature checked before entering any building of the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, where class sizes are small, masks are mandatory and hand sanitizer is readily available. While she’s overjoyed

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When there’s a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel, who gets to know and when? Salish Lodge becomes a case study for Seattle’s hoteliers

When Mary Lankford checked into the Salish Lodge & Spa with her husband and six-month-old baby on Sept. 30, the lodge had known for a week that multiple employees had tested positive for COVID-19. But Lankford did not find out about it until a news report announced the outbreak later that evening. 

Lankford and other guests who stayed at Salish Lodge between Sept. 22 (when Public Health – Seattle & King County began its investigation) and Sept. 30 (when Public Health publicly announced the outbreak) were angry that they had not been informed as soon as the cases were discovered. 

Salish Lodge says it followed the guidance of the county public health office, and Public Health – Seattle & King County says it generally focuses on zeroing in on who may have been exposed and informing that targeted group. 

Hotel guests say they just want to know whenever there are COVID-19 cases where they’re staying. 

The Salish Lodge outbreak of 25 cases, and a recently confirmed case of six guests who tested positive for COVID-19 at the Residence Inn by Marriott Seattle Downtown/Lake Union, has raised the question of who should be notified, when, and by whom when there is a COVID-19 outbreak at a hotel. (The Residence Inn’s general manager declined to comment Wednesday, citing guest privacy concerns, but said no staff members have tested positive.)

The answer, it turns out, isn’t one size fits all. When and who to inform about a COVID-19 outbreak is a delicate balancing act that must take into account the resources of county public health and the affected business, employee and customer privacy, the potential for spreading misinformation, community well-being, maintaining customer trust and numerous epidemiological concerns.

The Salish Lodge outbreak showed that hotels are in a unique position as businesses that provide many services to a large clientele over days rather than hours, and as places that guests see as a home away from home. 

As Seattleites become quarantine-weary and many Washington hotels see an uptick in local staycationers, the situation that unfolded at Salish Lodge carries lessons about the evolving relationships and responsibilities between guests, hotels and public health in the COVID-19 era.

“Safety is the new luxury” 

The pandemic has taken a significant toll on the hotel and travel industries. According to Visit Seattle, hotel occupancy rates in the Seattle metro market sat at 38.5% for the week of Sept. 20 — compared to 82.4% for the same period last year. 

Anthony Anton, Washington Hospitality Association (WHA) president and CEO, says hotels must invest in COVID-19 safety for guests and staff if they want to survive the pandemic.

The Hotel Sorrento in Seattle has gone above and beyond to come up with solid COVID-19 safety protocols.  (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)
The Hotel Sorrento in Seattle has gone above and beyond to come up with solid COVID-19 safety protocols. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

“So much of our reputation and public trust is connected to our profitability,” said Anton. “We’re having to learn and get better and we’re really diligent about it, because if people don’t trust us, they’re not going to

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