Coronavirus Update for Students

exchange student holding notebook


Dear Student,

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create new challenges for students, schools, communities, governments, and organizations of all kinds across the globe. International education and travel is no exception. Our student’s safety and well-being is ISE’s top priority and we are following along closely with the recommendations issued by WHO, the CDC, and the Department of State to best guide you through this situation.

We are currently recommending that students who can go home, do go home, but we are not mandating it as long as natural families and host families are comfortable continuing with the program. Our primary focus right now is facilitating travel for students and/or host families who have requested an early return. This has been far more challenging than anticipated and will require patience on everyone’s part, as travel is projected to be delayed for several weeks or longer in many affected countries around the world.

Below are a few FAQ’s that we hope you will find helpful. We recommend that you read through all of them so that you have the most up-to-date information.

Why hasn’t ISE required all students to return?

We recognize that there are risks and benefits associated with returning home and staying. For that reason, we feel that the best course of action is to give students, natural families, and host families the freedom to make the best decision for themselves based on their individual circumstances. We are taking guidance from the CDC, WHO, and the Department of State and working closely with international partners to determine a plan while taking into consideration countries whose borders were closed without notice, have fewer resources, and where families may not be able to receive their students right now. Because our students and families are impacted in different ways, we have chosen to respond in a more customized approach. We want to make it clear, however, that there is no guarantee that any student will be able to complete the program.

As stated above, the scope of this pandemic is far-reaching and the situation is changing daily. There is a high probability that most, if not all, schools across the U.S. will close or extend closures, and that travel will continue to be extremely difficult for returning students. Currently, we are focusing on voluntary and need-based program withdrawals. We are trying to make special considerations for students who cannot return home for specific reasons whenever possible.

We’re undecided, what should we do?

While many students and/or host families have made the decision to end the program early, many students, with agreement from their host families and natural parents, have chosen to remain in the U.S. for the time being. Students and families must evaluate the current and potential risks and benefits associated with choosing to continue with the program for any length of time. 

How do we handle school closures/grades?

We encourage all students to request transcripts now and to find out if they can start/continue distance-learning from their home countries. There are no concrete answers regarding convalidation/credit transfers just yet but are working with our partners to learn more every day. We will provide updates as they become available.

For Students Who Will Remain in the U.S.

Please stay in contact with your local Area Representative. Your Area Rep will continue to supervise, although in-person visits are not possible at this time. For that purpose, video conferencing using FaceTime, Skype, or other visual tools will replace in-person visits for the near future.

If you are showing any signs of illness, please inform your local ISE Area Representative and/or host family immediately. If there is a medical emergency, please contact our emergency number at 631-297-6163.



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