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 this Fall semester, 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: May 11, 2020


Pre-departure/Arrival

Will I need a student visa to participate in the Fall 2020 term?
The duration of the Fall 2020 semester has been shortened to under 90 days; therefore, US passport holders are not required to obtain a student visa.  However, 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 U.S. Passport operations and you may face significant delays in receiving your passport.

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, or if you plan to study at CYA for the full 2020-2021 academic year. 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 still need a student visa to participate in the Spring semester. This process typically begins in the fall before the student goes abroad. Spring students can expect more information about this to be available later this summer.

What changes have already been made to the Fall 2020 semester?

Semester Dates: CYA has decided to implement a date change for the Fall 2020 semester. Dates are now September 21 - December 18, 2020, so that most of our students will not be required to obtain a visa if they plan to stay in Europe just under the 90-day Schengen tourist visa limit. This adjusted schedule will still preserve the required number of contact hours and the overall richness & quality of the CYA experience.
Refund Policy: CYA will also 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?
We do not recommend that you book your flight until the US State Department and the Greek and European authorities withdraw their current travel restrictions and confirm that flights are allowed between the US and Greece. 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?
It is highly unlikely that a quarantine period will be required once travel restrictions have been lifted; 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?
Although health documentation ("immunity passports") for travelers is being discussed internationally, no government has announced any relevant requirements so far, nor what such documentation will entail. CYA will keep you informed in the event health documentation is required for travel or for attending classes in Greece.

Is there health insurance that would support students?
While CYA does provide supplemental health insurance, we recommend that students rely on their primary coverage from 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.

CYA’s supplemental health insurance does cover hospitalization for COVID-19, but this is only an insurance of last resort, with a deductible amount.. Students can also purchase additional travel and international health insurance through their ISIC card at an extra cost. Please visit STA’s website for more information.

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 plans to run the Fall 2020 semester. Course registration is scheduled to open by June 10. We will keep students updated on travel restrictions/protocols as they become available.

Housing

I’m concerned about housing amidst COVID-19, how is CYA addressing housing in the Fall?
Students will be 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 to use public transportation.

Can I still participate in a Homestay?
Unfortunately, CYA has decided not to offer the Homestay housing option for the Fall 2020 semester. This decision was 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 materials will also be available in each apartment for students to use themselves as needed. Hand disinfectant and paper towels will 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 quarantine of students who test positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization. CYA will also help non-infected roommates move to a different apartment while their apartment is being disinfected. CYA will comply with all instructions regarding at-home isolation and will assist the student with their daily needs, such as grocery shopping etc. CYA will also deliver a packaged lunch to 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 Government regulations regarding classroom distancing in effect at that time. Onsite classes will be conducted with respect to social distancing following museum and sites health protocols and with the use of wireless audio guide system to increase audible range and facilitate easy communication.

Have extra measures in sanitation & facilities maintenance been taken?
Since January, the maintenance department has upgraded its daily cleaning regime by following WHO and CDC recommendations about sanitizing home and work environments. Disinfectant is used extensively on frequently touched surfaces such as desks, doorknobs, railings, etc. as recommended. WHO posters on how to prevent the spread of a disease 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. As per cleaning procedures established since January, desk surfaces, door handles etc. will be disinfected between classes. All classrooms have opening windows for air ventilation & most have a separate clima unit.

Will students/staff be required to wear masks?
At this time the use of masks is required only in enclosed spaces such as stores, banks, supermarkets, but not in offices or classrooms. CYA will inform you and help you comply with local government directives that may come into effect.

Is there regular taking of students’ temperature? Either themselves or on-site?
Although not currently required, CYA is prepared for daily temperature taking with the use of thermal cameras. In addition, students are advised to either bring a thermometer with them or purchase one locally.

If I get sick, can I still participate in class while being quarantined?
Depending on the requirements of each class, CYA instructors will help you arrange the most effective method for you to keep up to speed with your classes while in quarantine. All courses offered in Fall 2020 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 part of Greece and a full exposure to life and culture outside Athens.  Traveling on buses will be done 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 from Fall 2020 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 the Spring semester.

CYA’s Refund policy 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 fall 2020 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 have been slightly reduced by $350, bringing the 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 is necessary, patients are admitted in 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.

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

Are COVID-19 tests readily available should I feel ill?
Yes, tests are readily available at several 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 regarding the situation, and regulations are announced and clarified. The death toll percentage in Greece has been among the lowest in Europe. It is hoped that the early and lengthy lockdown, the Greek public’s compliance, and a very gradual return to normalcy will help Greece overcome the pandemic with a minimum number of victims.

Will I have to wear a face mask when out in public?
At this time the use of masks is required only in enclosed spaces such as stores, banks, supermarkets but not mandatory when you are out in the open.

Will sites such as museums, historic sites, churches, and more be open come the fall?
 As soon as travel restrictions are lifted, public sites will also be available to the public. We expect that social distancing may be required while in enclosed spaces such as museums or churches, and CYA is preparing for the eventuality that on-site teaching may be done using audio equipment.

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 for 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.

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.