Yale Daily News

Yalies may be able to travel abroad again in summer 2021 — although not through Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad.

In an email to Yale undergraduate students last week, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun shared additional details on the anticipated summer 2021 travel policy. After Chun announced in October 2020 that all international travel sponsored by the University would be suspended for the duration of the 2020-2021 academic year, his Feb. 5 email to the undergraduate community provided some answers about summer travel. 

Although nothing is set in stone, Chun announced that he anticipates the universal travel restriction will be lifted, and for summer activities sponsored by the University, Yale College expects to abide by the practices found in the Yale Travel Policy. According to the Yale Study Abroad website, while Yale Summer Session Programs Abroad are canceled for summer 2021, many of those courses will be offered online through Yale Summer Session.

“This is the time of year when students plan for their summers, and they have been sending many questions to CIPE [the Center for International and Professional Experience],” Chun wrote to the News. “The announcement wasn’t meant to signal any assumptions about the public health situation, but it did communicate information that could help students with their plans: that international travel restrictions would be assessed in a country-specific manner.”

According to CIPE Deputy Director and Director of Study Abroad Kelly McLaughlin, the Yale Travel Policy states that Yale College will not support or sponsor undergraduate activities abroad where the location “is rated at a certain risk level by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of State, or International SOS.” McLaughlin explained that Yale also reserves the right to make its own determinations about whether or not to approve travel plans to a given location on a case-by-case basis.

McLaughlin stated that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the prospect of international travel this summer. However, he explained that even if Yale College lifts the universal travel restriction, students’ travel plans will still need to meet the eligibility criteria in Yale’s Travel Policy. Additionally, countries can impose their own entry requirements, which McLaughlin said may be difficult to meet.

“All that said, the resumption to normalcy was likely never going to be immediate or 100% all at once, so we need to make positive, measured steps forward, and it would be thrilling to see Yalies going abroad again this summer,” McLaughlin wrote to the News.

With all the uncertainty regarding the summer, McLaughlin’s advice to students who hope to travel this summer is to have multiple backup plans and to keep up with communication about the possibilities and potential limitations to summer 2021 abroad.

McLaughlin highlighted a few key dates that students should keep in mind. While Yale’s own study abroad programs will not run in summer 2021 — 40 of those courses will be offered through Yale Summer Session — the Yale application to study abroad through a non-Yale affiliated program opens on Feb. 15 and is due by April 1. He also directed students to the study abroad website to find more resources that may help them in their planning and mentioned that study abroad advisors are available to assist students.

Chun acknowledged that the uncertainty regarding summer plans makes planning difficult. But he said last week’s announcement was meant to give students the ability to begin thinking about their summer plans.

“With a priority on public health and safety, I want to give students as much information as the circumstances permit,” Chun wrote to the News. “I expect to be able to add more certainty as the summer approaches; for now, I hope that it’s helpful for students to know which programs are canceled and which programs remain viable.”

The announcement about the anticipated plans for summer 2021 travel come at the heels of another major announcement regarding student summer plans.

In a Jan. 29 email to undergraduates, Chun also announced that Yale College students will be able to participate in in-person research this summer, regardless of class year or enrollment status — as long as students adhere to the community compact and register any required safety training.

According to a Yale Study Abroad annual report, 47 percent of the class of 2019 studied abroad during their time at Yale.

Julia Bialek | julia.bialek@yale.edu