STUDENTS Q & A
Below is a collection of the most common questions and answers regarding our reopening and how the Institute is addressing the coronavirus for Spring 2021 semester. Please note that any information on this page can change as the pandemic evolves and updated health & safety guidance is released by Italian and EU public health authorities. All viewers are encouraged to check back frequently, especially as the start of the semester approaches.
Q&A: PREPARING FOR THE SEMESTER
For students that have been accepted and enrolled, we provide a pre-departure handbook and virtual pre-departure info sessions specifically to address the Institute’s health and safety protocols. All applicants will be contacted by our admissions specialists to schedule a pre-departure session.
In addition, our US office staff is always available to answers questions from students, parents, and partnering colleges and universities. Contact us at [email protected] for any questions or concerns. We will promptly reply.
Yes, a laptop if you have one. Should you need to quarantine in Italy or elsewhere, you may need to complete some or all of your coursework online. In addition, our institute uses an online system known as Moodle to supplement in-class learning (covid or no covid). While we have a few desktop computers available for student use, they are nowhere near enough to support the entire student body and cannot be moved from their place within the Institute’s library.
We also suggest you pack some masks. Many airlines currently require passengers to wear a mask for all flights. In addition, depending on the local health regulations, you may need a mask at certain locations when you travel in Italy and Europe.
Though we do not yet know if Italian and EU guidelines will require that people wear masks in enclosed spaces this coming fall or spring, we do want you to be prepared for this possibility both in the Institute and during your independent travel. Our Institute will provide all students with masks upon their initial arrival in Italy (in September or January) but students are responsible for purchasing any further masks or personal protective equipment. You’re welcome to pack any such items as long as they fit all guidelines provided by your airline. You will also find a section called “Suggestions on What to Pack” when you receive your pre-departure handbook.
At this point, we don’t think so, but there is no way to know for sure. As of now, anyone arriving in Italy from the United States is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. However, there are plans in place to lift this restriction well in advance of the spring semester.
If circumstances require that we suspend in-person classroom sessions, we will move to online classes. If the outbreak is not severe and temporary restrictions have been put in place, students can remain in Italy in their apartments; we will only refund the unused course fees for course travel and excursions. Students can complete the semester in Italy online. If students are required to vacate student housing and return home, we will refund all unused housing expenses as well. The academic program will continue online and students will receive full academic credit. See our Dates, Deadlines and Refunds page for details.
We made this option available after our summer session was cancelled, as we recognize that not every student will have a future study abroad opportunity and some students may have needed one or more of our courses for their degree plan. We are currently working on plans to offer some courses online this spring for students who cannot travel. Should this interest you, please contact us at [email protected] and tell us which course(s) you’d need as this may help us establish plans for remote study that could match your needs.
Remote Internships: Some of our local internship placements, as well as other internship opportunities, can be offered remotely on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested, please contact us right away.
Q & A: WHILE IN ITALY
Classroom capacity will be reduced to meet the social distancing guidelines established by the local public health and safety authorities, which means students’ desks will be spread out as required. Fortunately, ISI has a number of large classrooms. Although more open space makes for a more impersonal learning environment, it also decreases the likelihood of transmission. When possible, classroom windows and doors will remain open to maximize airflow.
The apartments will be disinfected according to Italian and EU anti-covid sanitation guidelines prior to arrival and the Institute will provide an initial supply of PPE, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies for each apartment. It is still too early for us to know which of these guidelines will still be in place for the Spring 2021 semester but our Institutes are closely monitoring Italian and EU health recommendations to ensure a safe environment for our students.
No. We know that weekend travel and activities are just as much a part of study abroad as your individual classes. Therefore, our courses will still run from Monday through Thursday (though class will last a little longer than usual) so that your three-day weekends can still be spent either on academic field trips or independent travel, both of which help you learn from and integrate with the Italian community.
Yes! However, we do ask that you thoroughly research your destinations to make sure you are familiar with any travel restrictions they may impose. ISI Florence reserves the right to implement travel restrictions with little warning should an outbreak anywhere in Europe cause serious concern for our students.
While you are abroad, our team will work to notify you of common travel destinations that pose significant health risks; so, it is imperative that you submit an independent travel form every time you leave your host city. That said, you should always seek to inform yourself on issues of health and safety, regardless of when or where you travel as health and safety topics can sometimes impact how you navigate your destination and what activities or events are available to you.
No, they cannot under any circumstance. Our Institutes have always had a policy in place that prohibits students from hosting overnight guests in their apartments, regardless of where that guest is coming from or how they are related to the student. This policy is especially important in light of covid-19 as it is important that you limit possible exposure of the virus to your roommates. All guests have always been and will continue to be asked to stay in a hotel, hostel, or other accommodation for the duration of their visit to Florence.
Q & A: HEALTH AND CRISIS MANAGEMENT
Absolutely! Health & safety guidelines are of utmost importance to our team, regardless of who they impact.
ISI Florence will not manage any contact tracing. However, the Institute will keep a record of everyone who enters the facility for a minimum of 14 days. Should we receive word from staff, faculty, students, or Italian health authorities that someone in our facilities has been exposed to the coronavirus, we shall support all impacted individuals by following the protocol issued by the Italian authorities.
We will also monitor student travel through our mandatory independent travel forms, required each time a student leaves their host city for anything other than an Institute-sponsored field trip or activity. Our student services team will use this information to see whether students plan to visit outbreak areas (as this is a precautionary, preventive measure).
While we would love to encourage everyone to study abroad, if you belong to a group that is at high-risk for covid-19 complications, we encourage you to postpone your study abroad experience. While Italy’s medical system is one of the best in the world and our staff would be happy to support you to the extent they are able, we anticipate that it would be very difficult for you and your loved ones should you be high-risk and fall ill while abroad. Fortunately, most students are not in a high-risk group, due to age and other factors. However, we recommend that you check with your doctor before committing to travel, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions.
During orientation and in your welcome packet, you’ll be provided with the contact information for local health and emergency services. Our staff can also provide you with contact information for local English-speaking doctors and other specialists.
Although our staff will not be able to physically accompany students to their appointments due to restrictions, our team can be available by phone or video chat, to assist with any medical visits or health concerns. Our 24/7 emergency phone will also be available, as usual. Rest assured, the Italian healthcare system is among the best in the world and is well prepared for any emergencies.
Note: All students studying in Italy are required to have valid emergency health insurance. Most students will get this through their study abroad office as part of their program cost. Please check with your study abroad office to see if insurance is included or if it will be an independent purchase.
If any students were exposed to covid-19 while abroad, we ask that they immediately notify our Health, Safety, and Wellness Coordinator at the Institute. Potentially infected students or those showing symptoms of covid-19 will be asked to self-isolate in their apartment until a physician can assess the situation and determine if a test is required. Italian testing is free and very efficient. In most cases health officials will come to the home to perform the test, but if you are asymptomatic your test may not be a priority.
In the unlikely event that your professor is exposed, your class might be asked to self-isolate (this depends on various factors of exposure and Italian health guidelines). Even if you are not asked to self-isolate, that course would be offered with your professor teaching remotely until 14 days have passed since the instance of possible exposure or until the professor receives a negative coronavirus test.
Please read our Risk Management page for details.
If the local region becomes enough of a risk, students will be required to adhere to the local health and safety regulations including shelter-at-home orders. Classes would take place remotely till restrictions have been lifted. If the crisis is severe, you may be asked to return to the United States. The reason for this is that if lockdown restrictions are in place, our staff may be legally obligated to stay home and can therefore not offer our usual support services, even those relative to health and safety.
Should our on-site program need to close, our staff would work with you to support your departure and would establish a one to two week buffer period to allow students to arrange their flights without facing academic deadlines. Our faculty is trained in the use of online learning platforms and can allow you to continue your coursework remotely once that buffer period ends. See the section on Dates, Deadlines, and Refunds.
I still have questions, who do I contact?
You can contact our team directly through [email protected]. Please specify which semester you plan to attend and what your questions are; our admissions specialists will promptly reply.
Please note that we cannot provide you with information regarding the specific policies of your home university or your program agent. Students should contact them directly.