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Bobcats without Borders

COVID-19 Updates, Information, & Advice

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COVID-19 information is being regularly updated. Feel free to check back frequently.

Related Service Disruptions

Passports

Because of public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, effective March 20 and updated August 13, the U.S. Department of State had limited U.S. passport operations. As of June 2, passport services are beginning to resume on a phase-by-phase basis. Learn more on their COVID-19 Update page and their Frequently Asked Questions page.

Paper Official Transcripts

Because of Gov. Newsom's and Pres. Napolitano's respective directives to slow the spread of COVID-19, paper official transcript services at UC Merced have been suspended. Learn more on the Registrar's Office's Service Adjustments page. If you need official transcripts for study abroad, please see our study abroad-tailored information on transcripts.

Information for Applicants and Selectees

The COVID-19 situation remains very fluid and continues to shift rapidly. The Office of International Affairs, the UC Education Abroad Program, and other international education organizations are attempting to be as nimble and flexible as possible. It is understandable that students and their families may be anxious about upcoming study abroad terms. Some measures we are all pursuing to help students and families make more informed decisions include the following:

Special Advice for Students Preparing to Study Abroad

Withdrawal deadlines: UCEAP, in certain situations, may push back the deadline to withdraw in order to give students more time to make an informed decision about their study abroad options. If the deadline to withdraw is approaching and you have questions, please feel free to reach out to your Study Abroad advisor.

Passports: If you have not yet applied for your passport, please do so as soon as possible. The US State Department has reported significant delays in processing applications and expedited service is currently suspended.

Financial aid: The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will receive program budgets and participant information in the two months prior to your deadline to withdraw and begin the repackaging process at that point.

Registration: OIA will advocate on behalf of students to permit them to register for UC Merced courses overlapping their scheduled UCEAP program term. This would be a one-time exception to policy. At some point in shortly before departure, students will likely need to decide to either drop their UCEAP participation or their UC Merced coursework.

Airfare: Students are advised to book their airfare only after being advised to do so. Students should also get fully refundable, as programs may be suspended with little notice or see program calendar disruptions. Be sure to visit the UCEAP portal for the most current information regarding your program start date. Program budgets include the cost of refundable airfare.

Health clearances: Appointments to visit your doctor may be difficult during this time. Please schedule an appointment right away and notify UCEAP if you cannot meet your deadline.

Summer 2020 Program Updates

As of March 19, 2020, UCEAP has suspended all summer programs for the 2020 term.

UC Merced Study Abroad is aware of the following UC Summer Abroad suspensions for 2020:

  1. UC Berkeley
  2. UC Davis
  3. UC Irvine
  4. UCLA
  5. UC Riverside
  6. UC San Diego
  7. UC Santa Cruz

Fall 2020 Program Updates

As of May 26, 2020, UCEAP has suspended all fall programs for the 2020 term.

Several programs had been suspended prior to the May 26 announcement.

Spring 2021 Program Updates

As of August 13, 2020, UCEAP has suspended all the majority of programs for the spring 2021 term. Late applicants and students in programs suspended may transfer to some of the options below.

Several programs with spring 2021 starts remain running (some are closed to new applications or transfers) as planned as of August 13:

  • Australia: Marine Biology & Terrestrial Ecology (closed)
  • Costa Rica: Tropical Biology and Conservation (closed)
  • France: Social Justice and Activism (closed – financial aid unavailable)
  • Germany:
  • Israel:
    • Technion (contact advisor)
    • Hebrew University (closed – financial aid unavailable)
  • Italy:
    • Made in Italy - Florence (closed – financial aid unavailable)
    • Italian in Florence (closed – financial aid unavailable)
    • Art, Food & Society - Rome (closed – financial aid unavailable)
  • Japan:
  • Netherlands:
    • CES Psych (closed – financial aid unavailable)
    • CES Pre-Med (closed – financial aid unavailable)
  • Spain: International Business Economics (contact advisor – financial aid unavailable)
  • Taiwan: National Taiwan University (closed – financial aid unavailable)
  • United Kingdom:
    • Global Cities Urban Realities (contact advisor)
    • London Business/Entrepreneurship (closed – financial aid unavailable)

Several programs had been suspended prior to the August 13 announcement.

Preparing contingencies for suspended programs

It is understandable to be anxious about COVID-19 and how it might impact study abroad programs. Perhaps the greatest impact it will ever have on you is the uncertainty it creates. In preparing for potential impacts, the Office of International Affairs has some suggestions for preparing alternatives and mitigating impacts:

  1. First, evaluate what academic, career, even financial objectives you have for your time abroad. These goals might impact how you approach the next few questions, but consider what you would get out of study abroad if you followed your original study abroad plan. Try to be flexible and adaptable when and where those are appropriate but be firmer on those facets that are less negotiable.
  2. Consider alternative study abroad options:
    1. Explore extensions available. If no automatic extension is available, you can still inquire with the appropriate study abroad advisor if the deadline passed recently.
    2. Does it work to study abroad in a country less affected or unaffected by COVID-19? Some countries have greater healthcare capacity or more robust contact tracing or pandemic containment practices.
    3. Does it work to study abroad a different term altogether? If spring or summer 2021 is not the precise window you need to go abroad, could you make fall 2021 work as well? Or spring 2022? Even summer 2022?
  3. Have a backup plan for your academics here at UC Merced in case your program is suspended suddenly.

Note: UCEAP and other study abroad providers will consider changeable flight itineraries when providing program budgets. We encourage students to pursue changeable tickets (or refundable tickets, when appropriate). Program dates have shifted to avoid possible community spread of COVID-19 and other diseases in various host countries in the past and you should be prepared to make adjustments if you pursue study abroad in affected countries.

Information for Students in Suspended Programs

Financial Aid Updates for Affected Students:

Financial aid options and availability varies from program to program and even student to student. Please visit the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships COVID-19 page.

Arranging Airfare:

This is a difficult and urgent situation for most students. Here are some of the basic steps students should follow to arrange return airfare:

  1. Follow any advice provided by your program (e.g. CIEE gives specific advice to students in CIEE programs).
  2. Contact your airline to request the possibility of changing your return airfare without a fee in light of the COVID-19 situation.
  3. Contact the travel insurance provider for your program. For UCEAP students, this is through CHUBB's Trip Cancelation/Interruption Claim Form.
  4. Contact your program again for further guidance, if needed.
  5. Notify your Study Abroad Advisor with your return itinerary.

Visiting or returning to Merced from a Level 3 Country:

In accordance with CDC guidance, we ask you stay home (in self-quarantine) for 14 days from the time you left an area with widespread, ongoing community spread (Level 3 Travel Health Notice countries) and monitor yourself closely for symptoms. Please note that there is no financial assistance available through the University for this measure. All UC Merced students are asked to call Student Health Services at 209-228-2273 and speak with nursing staff if they have questions.

If you are healthy and have no symptoms, take these steps to monitor your health and practice social distancing:

  • Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and monitor for fever. Also watch for cough or trouble breathing.
  • Stay home and avoid contact with others. Do not go to work or school for this 14-day period. Do not take public transportation, taxis, or ride-shares during the time you are practicing social distancing.
  • Avoid crowded places (such as shopping centers and movie theaters) and limit your activities in public.
  • Keep your distance from others (about 6 feet or 2 meters).

You can discontinue these procedures after you have been outside of a COVID-19 affected area or out of close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 for 14 days if you do not become ill.

If you have any signs of illness, especially fever, chills, cough, have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath:

  • Put on a surgical (paper) mask, if you have one, and stay in a private room.
  • Call your healthcare provider immediately for further guidance (students can call Student Health Services at 209-228-2273 and speak with a nurse).
  • Don’t expose others. Please be sure to let your healthcare provider know the concern for COVID-19 as soon as you arrive. Until you have been evaluated by a health care provider, stay home.

For life-threatening medical emergencies, always call 911.

For additional information on COVID-19, please visit https://emergency.ucmerced.edu/coronavirus

Academic Options:

Students who are interested in directly enrolling at a host university in a country under level 3 Travel Warning for the CDC or level 3 Travel Advisory for the US Department of State should know that UC Merced does not support this option.

Consequently, any student who chooses to direct enroll must do so wholly on their own by temporarily withdrawing from UC Merced. This change in status has significant financial aid, insurance, and other implications and students should contact us with any questions.

Students who were receiving financial aid for study abroad prior to a study abroad program suspension may still have financial aid available. This aid may apply to different academic options:

  1. UC Intercampus Visitor Program: Students enroll at a quarter campuses (all but Berkeley) for Spring Quarter. Because the Spring Quarter starts very soon, interested students must contact us immediately for guidance.
  2. Summer Enrollment at UC Merced or other UC campuses
  3. Potentially other academic options on a case-by-case basis

Study Abroad Planning in the Time of Coronavirus