All Loyola study abroad programming has been suspended through J-term and spring semester 2021 as a result of COVID-19, including study at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center (JFRC) and the Vietnam Center, the university announced Oct. 1.
The health and safety situation abroad is not conducive to sending students overseas, said Dr. Brian Johnson, associate director for study abroad in Loyola’s Office of International Programs.
This decision comes after Loyola suspended study abroad programming in March due to the COVID-19 outbreak. All summer study abroad programs were also canceled, The Phoenix reported in June.
Johnson previously told The Phoenix approximately 250 students study abroad each term. This fall, he said, about half were approved to study abroad before the Oct. 1 cancellation decision.
Johnson said the university has been following guidance from The U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as travel advisories from other countries’ governments. He said all advisories strongly caution against international travel.
The university has been in communication with students who were looking to study abroad and was planning to make a final decision regarding study abroad programming by Oct. 15, according to Johnson. He said it was challenging finding a “sweet spot” and avoiding making a decision too early or too late.
“In both situations for the summer decision as well as the spring decision, we wanted to make a decision at a time that was most appropriate for giving our students time to get a visa if the decision was yes,” Johnson said. “We also didn’t want to make a decision too early because we didn’t want to be in a position where we couldn’t send students and then conditions improved.”
Johnson said while he’s happy Loyola is prioritizing the health and safety of its students, the office is looking forward to resuming study abroad programming in the future.
In an email to JFRC alumni and Rome colleagues, JFRC Director Michael Andrews wrote that Loyola hopes to resume study abroad and in-person programs in summer or fall 2021, if it’s deemed safe to do so.
“This has in no way been an easy decision for the University and it is with tremendous sadness that I deliver this message to you,” Andrews wrote of the cancellation decision.