COVID-19 - Related FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
Regarding Fall 2020/Spring 2021
in view of the COVID-19 pandemic



    CYA is determined to offer its students an outstanding experience in the upcoming semesters, in spite of COVID-19.  We are working with two parallel aims in mind; to ensure your safety and good health, and at the same time deliver an academically superior and fulfilling semester abroad experience, without limiting your opportunities to understand and appreciate the country, its people and its culture.


Last update: November 17, 2020


Pre-departure/Arrival

Will I need a student visa to participate in the CYA program?
Under current Greek authorities restrictions, a student visa allows entry to a U.S. citizen even if U.S. tourists are not allowed to enter Greece. A student visa also allows you to stay in Europe for more than 90 days. CYA will help you with the visa process; however, to apply for a visa students must have a passport valid for at least 3 months beyond your intended day of return to the U.S.  If you need to apply for or renew your passport, please check the US Government's Services website for details.  Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, the State Department has limited its U.S. Passport operations and you may face significant delays in receiving your passport.

In the event that the duration of your program is less than 90 days and therefore a student visa cannot be granted, the Greek Consulate will provide you with a Consular Letter stating that you are allowed to enter the country for the purpose of studies, in order to facilitate your travel and entry to Greece. Please email our Student Advisor, Hailey Lovett,  to set up an appointment to go over this process.

So who would need a visa?
If you are not a citizen of the US, Canada, Australia, or the European Schengen region, you may need a visa to enter Greece. You will also need a student visa if you are staying in Europe for more than 90 days. Please email our Student Advisor, Hailey Lovett,  to set up an appointment to go over this process.

What about Spring 2021?
At this time, CYA plans for a regular-duration semester in Spring 2021, which is longer than 90 days; therefore, students will need a student visa to participate in the Spring semester. This process typically begins in the fall before the student goes abroad. Spring 2021 students can expect more information about this to be available later this fall.

What changes have already been made to the Fall 2020  and Spring 2021 semesters?

Fall Semester Dates: CYA has decided to implement a date change for the Fall 2020 semester. Dates are now September 21 - December 18, 2020. This adjusted schedule will still preserve the required number of contact hours and the overall richness & quality of the CYA experience.
Spring Semester Dates:  The Spring Semester will start on February 8 and and on May 14, 2021. 
Refund Policy: For Fall 2020 and Spring 2021, CYA will issue a full refund to students who withdraw up to the day before Arrivals Day (see Finances/Refunds section below).

How will CYA prepare me to go abroad during this time?
CYA has staff both in the US and in Greece who will help you prepare for your time abroad. We will be providing students with a series of virtual Pre-departure and Life in Greece orientation sessions, starting several months in advance, and continuing until close to your arrival day.

Should I book my flight?
Travel restrictions between countries, and airline schedules, change frequently due to the volatility of the pandemic.  When the time comes to purchase your ticket, you should inquire with the airline about their flight change and cancellation policy.

Will there be a mandatory quarantine for passengers arriving in Greece?
A quarantine period is not required at this time; nevertheless, CYA is prepared to proceed with semester activities on-line in the event students are required to be quarantined upon arrival in Greece. CYA is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and the relevant announcements by the US State Department, the CDC as well as European and, of course, the Greek National Public Health Organization, and we are adjusting and expanding our preparations accordingly.

Will I have to show health documentation upon arrival?
At this time Greece requires that you present proof of a negative COVID-19 test done within 72 hours prior to arrival; CYA will keep you informed of the latest requirements when the time comes.  Even if this requirement is lifted by the time you are ready to travel, some airlines may still require that you present proof of health (i.e. negative results of a recent COVID-19 test) in order to board your flight, so you should check with your airline(s) as well. CYA will keep you informed  about any health documentation required for travel into Greece or for attending classes in Greece. If, at the time of your arrival to Athens, CYA considers a COVID-19 test necessary, CYA will arrange for all students to be tested upon arrival, at CYA's expense. 

Will CYA require that I be tested for COVID-19 when I arrive there?
Depending on the conditions at the time of arrival, or even at any time during the semester, CYA may decide that it is necessary for all students to be tested for COVID-19.  In this case CYA will arrange for the tests at no cost to the students.

Is there health insurance that would support students?
Students will be insured with CISI (including medical treatment for COVID-19) for the duration of their studies at CYA. We recommend that students also ensure that they carry insurance through their parents/guardians or their school as their primary insurance coverage. Before arriving in Greece, students should check with their current insurance company regarding using their health insurance internationally, and that their insurance covers COVID-19 or pandemic-related treatment in general. It should be noted that, as dictated by the Greek health authorities, hospitalization for COVID-19 is available only at specific public hospitals whose fees are extremely low.

CYA also offers a supplemental health insurance which also covers hospitalization for COVID-19, but this is only an insurance of last resort, with a high deductible amount.

My parents are concerned; is there someone they can talk to regarding their questions?
CYA has staff both in the US and in Greece that are prepared to answer your and your parent's questions. If you would like to schedule an appointment to go over any concerns or questions about the program, please info@cyathens.org.
For general information about the situation in Greece you may also contact  the American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, by phone at +30 210-721-2951 or by mail at AthensAmericanCitizenServices@state.gov

Is there anything I can do now to help prepare?
●    Please make sure you enroll in STEP before going abroad!
●    Stay aware! Be sure you are keeping up to date with what is going on in the world using reputable news sources. The online English version of the reputable Greek newspaper Kathimerini is also a very reliable source of information.
●    Follow the news about COVID-19 on the CDC, WHO, and State Dept. pages and subscribe to their newsletters.
●    CYA will also be sharing articles and announcements about Greece, so make sure you read all the emails we send you.

What is CYA’s timeline for decisions?

CYA's fall semester is progressing smoothly on-site in Athens with a small group of students.  CYA is still accepting applications for the spring 2021 semester, which we are preparing to also hold on-site.

Academics

If I cannot arrive in time due to a positive test, will I be able to catch up with classes?
The first week of the semester is dedicated to orientation activities; classes start the following Monday.  Even if you are delayed at home due to a positive COVID-19 test, CYA will help you acclimate once you arrive, and your professors will work with you to find ways for you to catch up with missed classes.

What happens if schools in Greece must be closed for any period of time, or if my home institution requires that I return home before the semester is completed?
In spring 2020, when students were ordered by their home institutions to return to the U.S., CYA arranged for all courses to be switched quickly to online. Students were able to complete their classes online from home and to receive full credit.  CYA is fully prepared to continue classes online via synchronous and/or asynchronous sessions for as short or as long a period as becomes necessary.  Also, course material and audiovisual aids for all courses will be available to students online via Moodle.  

Housing

I’m concerned about housing amidst COVID-19, how is CYA addressing housing in the Fall? In the Spring?
Fall 2020 students are being housed in single occupancy rooms within shared apartments. Each bedroom has a separate clima (hot/cold) unit. All CYA apartments are within walking distance of the Academic Center, eliminating the need of public transportation.  If conditions dictate it, CYA will follow the same housing policy in Spring 2021.

Can I still participate in a Homestay?
Unfortunately, CYA has decided not to offer the Homestay housing option for the 2020-21 Academic Year. This decision has been made out of an abundance of caution for our incoming students!

What precautions is CYA taking to ensure that apartments are clean/sanitized?

Cleaning of apartments by CYA skilled crew has been increased to twice a week. Cleaning agents and sanitizing materials for surfaces and toilets will also be available in each apartment for students to use themselves as needed. Hand disinfectant and paper towels will also be provided by CYA in each apartment.

What if I develop COVID-19 symptoms and I am ordered to stay in home isolation?

CYA has reserved apartments for the isolation of students who test positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization. CYA will also help ensure a safe environment for non-infected roommates. CYA will comply with all health authorities' instructions regarding at-home isolation or quarantine of positive or suspected cases, and will assist the students with their daily needs, such as grocery shopping etc. CYA will also deliver a packaged lunch to isolated or quarantined students on those days that lunch is offered at the CYA Cafeteria.

Are there things I should avoid doing?
CYA will be sharing recommendations and policies set forth by health authorities regarding social distancing and health-related precautions. Government imposed restrictions may be changing over the course of the semester, and CYA will keep students up to date on all restrictions and procedures regarding social distancing, group gatherings, shopping, use of masks, etc. CYA will share the most current information during the pre-departure online orientation sessions, as well as upon student arrival, and will continue communicating with students about the latest developments throughout the semester.

Classes / Classrooms / Offices / Common areas

How is CYA going to handle social distancing in classrooms? Are class sizes going to be adjusted?
CYA has an abundance of classrooms of different sizes. Classrooms will be assigned depending on the number of students enrolled in each class & according to Greek authorities regulations regarding classroom distancing. Onsite classes will be conducted with respect to social distancing following museum and sites health protocols and with the use of wireless audio guide systems to increase audible range and facilitate easy communication.

Have extra measures in sanitation & facilities maintenance been taken?
Since January 2020, the housing department has upgraded its daily cleaning regime by following WHO and CDC recommendations about sanitizing home and work environments. As per cleaning procedures established at CYA since January, disinfectant is used on all frequently touched surfaces such as desks, tables, doorknobs, railings, etc.   Classroom  equipment is disinfected between classes as well. WHO and CDC posters on how to prevent the spread of a disease and how to identify COVID-19 symptoms have been posted throughout the CYA facilities and in student apartments. Hand disinfectant containers have been placed prominently and in abundance throughout the CYA buildings and in all student apartments. All classrooms have opening windows for air ventilation & most have a separate clima unit.

Will students/staff be required to wear masks?
For the fall 2020 semester masks are mandatory for everyone in classrooms and all enclosed spaces at any school. CYA will inform you and help you comply with local government directives at all times. According to the latest directives, masks must also be worn in all enclosed spaces such as stores, banks, supermarkets, public offices, and in open but crowded spaces where distancing cannot be maintained, such as public squares, bus stops, busy touristy areas, flea markets, farmer's markets, etc.

Is there regular taking of students’ temperature? Either themselves or on-site?
Although not currently required by health authorities, CYA is taking students' temperatures daily with the use of no-contact thermometers.  In addition, each student will be provided with a thermometer for their personal use.

If I get sick, can I still participate in class while being quarantined?
Depending on the requirements of each class, your professors will help you arrange the most effective method for you to keep up to speed with your classes while in quarantine. All courses offered will be also available, in their entirety, on Moodle with such course material as: prerecorded lecture videos; videos from onsite; videos of interviews; podcasts; PowerPoint and class-notes; reading; discussion forums. This will ensure continuity and uninterrupted flow regardless of the circumstances. Online course material, bibliography, and supplemental reading will be available to students from the beginning of the semester.

Field Study

Will the popular CYA Field Study program be affected?
There may be changes of itineraries dictated by local conditions but CYA will do its utmost to deliver a rich study travel program in various parts of Greece and a full exposure to life and culture outside Athens.  Traveling on buses will be arranged according to social distancing regulations and the same with any necessary travel by boat or airplane.

Finances/Refunds

What happens if I want to withdraw or defer my acceptance to a later term?
Please notify CYA as soon as you decide to withdraw or defer your acceptance. CYA’s  Student Advisor, Hailey Lovett,  will instruct you how to do so.  Please also be sure to notify your school of your intention to withdraw from CYA or to defer to a later semester.

CYA’s Refund policy for Academic Year 2020-21 has been amended to alleviate some of the financial concerns and uncertainties caused by COVID-19: in the event that a student withdraws from, or CYA cancels, the program prior to Arrivals Day, CYA will issue a 100% refund including the $600 non-refundable deposit.

With the start date change, is there a change in the fees as well?
CYA's fees for fall 2020 and spring 2021 have been slightly reduced by $350, bringing the semester total to $21,500.

Will I get my money back if I defer to a later semester?
Yes, nevertheless you should follow the payment guidelines relevant to the semester you defer to.

Healthcare in Greece

What is the healthcare system like in Greece if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
Normally, CYA uses private hospitals for its students’ needs. However, procedures for COVID-19 testing & hospitalization have been determined by the Greek health authorities. Patients and physicians alike have to follow these procedures. If hospitalization for COVID-19 is necessary, patients are admitted to public hospitals that are specially designated and appropriately equipped & staffed for COVID-19 treatment. At least two of these hospitals are in close proximity to CYA. 

For any non-COVID-19 related medical needs (outpatient or hospitalization) CYA helps students to a nearby private hospital, Euroclinic, which guarantees a COVID-19-free environment.

The Student Affairs department keeps up to date with the latest government instructions regarding handling and processing a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case and will assist students with the procedure. 

Are COVID-19 tests readily available should I feel ill?
Yes, tests are readily available at several private hospitals and diagnostic centers and at all the COVID-19 equipped public hospitals.

Greece during COVID-19

How has Greece responded to the pandemic?
Greece responded to the pandemic early and in an efficient and competent way.  Daily updates are given by the health authorities and regulations are announced and clarified. The early and lengthy lockdown this past spring helped Greece deal with the pandemic with a minimum number of victims and the death toll percentage in Greece has been among the lowest in Europe. Currently Greece is experiencing a surge in positive cases, and the authorities are announcing new measures as needed for specific periods of time.

Will I have to wear a face mask when out in public?
At this time the use of masks is required indoors and outdoors. 

Will sites such as museums, historic sites, churches, and more be open?
Museums and historic sites are currently closed but are expected to reopen in the near future, most likely requiring the use of masks and social distancing.  CYA is prepared for on-site teaching with the use of audio equipment. Churches are open but masks and social distancing are required. 

Will I be allowed to travel outside of Greece during my time abroad? What measures will CYA take for students who choose to travel on weekends?
 
As long as COVID-19 continues to be a threat, CYA will strongly recommend that you limit your personal travels to destinations within Greece, so that CYA can assist you if you fall sick or are placed in quarantine while traveling. Unfortunately, CYA will not be able to assist you if you are prevented from returning to Greece, or if you find yourself in need of medical care while outside Greece.

If I leave Greece for a weekend trip, will I have to quarantine upon arrival back into Greece?
You will have to follow government regulations in effect at the time of your travel, both towards your destination & when returning to Greece. Experience from this past spring has shown us that decisions to quarantine travelers may be announced unexpectedly. In addition,depending on your travel destination(s) CYA may require that you are tested for COVID-19 before you return to classes.

Will I still be able to participate in internships/volunteer work?
Yes, the CYA Student Affairs department will advise you on volunteering/internship opportunities that would pose the least threat to exposure to the COVID-19 virus. However, it will be up to you to take all precautions necessary commuting to the volunteer location as well as during your time there. 

What precautions should I take if I use public transportation?
Again, specific instructions regarding the use of public transportation, as well as airline and ferry travel, are issued by the government and the public health authorities. Students will be kept updated with the latest information throughout the semester.  At this time, using a mask is mandatory on all means of public transportation (ground, air and sea), as well as in taxis.