SAI COVID-19 Updates

This page includes all updates related to SAI’s response to Coronavirus (COVID-19). For all SAI Alerts, and SAI health & safety resources, please see Alerts.

The SAI Health and Safety Committee is continuously monitoring the evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Europe and worldwide, and we are keeping all current students, parents, and home schools up-to-date on decisions and recommendations via email. We are weighing each decision we make very carefully, and keeping in mind our student safety, as well as the large efforts, both financial and otherwise, it takes for students to study abroad.

For in-depth information about COVID-19, we suggest the following resources:

WHO  |  US CDC  |  US DOS  |  European CDC

Program Updates

If you would like in-depth information about how a study abroad experience with SAI looks right now, please contact SAI Admissions; we would love to speak with you! 

Spring 2021
We are reopening a majority of our program sites for Spring 2021, with a careful eye on the safety and security of our students. We will continue to closely monitor the evolving health situation, and provide updates, as necessary. We have revised our cancellation policy, as well as revised deadlines, to allow for maximum flexibility (see SAI Spring 2021 Program Policies). Additionally, we have put in place new procedures for Spring 2021 on-site programs to ensure the utmost care regarding the health and safety of our students (see below). Please contact SAI Admissions for specific questions or concerns.

Summer 2021
A majority of our Summer 2021 programs will proceed on-site as normal, although we have made the difficult decision to not reopen our Paris and Milan programs this summer. We will continue to closely monitor the evolving health situation, and will make adjustments as necessary. We have revised our cancellation policy, as well as application and payment deadlines, to allow for maximum flexibility (see Summer 2021 Program Policies). Finally, we have put in place procedures for Summer 2021 on-site programs to ensure the utmost care regarding the health and safety of our students (see below).

Fall 2021
We expect all Fall 2021 on-site programs to proceed as normal. We will continue to closely monitor the evolving health situation, and will make adjustments as necessary. We have revised our cancellation policy, as well as application and payment deadlines, to allow for maximum flexibility (see Fall 2021 Program Policies). Finally, we have put in place procedures for Fall 2021 on-site programs to ensure the utmost care regarding the health and safety of our students (see below).


Policy Updates

The advent of the novel coronavirus has caused international education organizations worldwide to adjust their programs and to revise their crisis management procedures. Accordingly, SAI has committed to a series of robust measures to maximize student well-being during the upcoming terms. Following are the additional steps that SAI is taking to ensure student health and safety for on-site programs (Spring 2021 / Summer 2021 / Fall 2021):

  • The SAI Health & Safety Committee has created a detailed checklist that is used to determine whether on-site programs will operate. The checklist ensures that the proper health and safety services are available to US citizens abroad, and that our programs are able to welcome students in a safe manner.
  • Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have carefully monitored the health advisories issued by various key public agencies, including the U.S. Department of State (USDOS), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and host country health agencies. We will continue to take such advisories into account as we make decisions about our on-site programs.
  • We are collecting host school policies on health directive compliance, and will communicate this directly to students. 
  • We offer a starter kit for students upon arrival with cleaning supplies, hand sanitizer and surgical face masks. Our offices are equipped with the required equipment and safety gear, including hand sanitizer for employees and guests and masks for our employees to ensure everyone’s safety.
  • We are offering a number of additional pre-departure resources to students, including a health webinar, a travel safety checklist, and a virtual orientation, so that students arrive in-country fully prepared.
  • We are asking all students to sign a housing agreement that covers, among other things, cleaning, health, and compliance with national health and safety mandates. 
  • All SAI housing includes a monthly professional cleaning service. Additionally, all SAI housing will include an initial supply of proper cleaning materials for students to thoroughly sanitize their home daily.
  • If an initial quarantine is required upon arrival in the host country, we are prepared to offer students virtual course delivery during that time, as well as assistance with groceries and necessities.
  • We have reworked our SAI Viva Experience activities to offer social distancing-compatible events that are in open spaces and outdoors. We are replacing the overnight excursion (where applicable) with additional culturally-relevant day trips.
  • We are requiring all students to arrive in-country with a smartphone that has a data plan that functions in the host country. Video chat capability is important for the duration of the SAI program, as it allows SAI staff to see students when and if they are unable to see them face-to-face. 
  • We strongly discourage any travel outside the host country while on the SAI program. A minimum 14 day quarantine may be required upon arrival and return from the destination country, at the student’s expense. We can provide resources for students who want to experience the various regions of their host country.
  • Students who have COVID-19 symptoms will be directed to contact SAI, who will help them follow host country guidance for testing and follow-up care, if needed. 
  • Students are asked to sign an updated SAI Code of Conduct. As part of the Code of Conduct, we expect all students to comply with any host country mandates and any imposed restrictions regarding health and safety.
  • We will continue to monitor health advisories (USDOS, CDC, WHO, and host country) throughout the term. Should there be a resurgence of COVID-19 in the host country that compels us to suspend our on-site programs and send students home, we have put in place plans to ensure continuity of coursework through online learning. SAI is in regular contact with students’ home institutions regarding academic continuity and policy alignment.
  • If the COVID-19 situation in the host country requires that SAI suspend or cancel the on-site portion of a program, with students completing their coursework virtually from home, SAI will provide refunds for recoverable costs. Please note that unused services may be recoverable, while tuition and rent are not.

Edited: February 2021

For information on our standard health and safety measures, see Health & Safety

Are all of your programs open?
The SAI Health & Safety Committee is continually assessing the global situation and making determinations about which programs to reopen. We use a detailed checklist to inform our decision-making that ensures student and staff safety and support. While most programs have reopened, there are some that have not; please see each program’s web page for updates.

How will studying abroad be different right now?
Studying abroad looks a bit different these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as rewarding! In fact, there are some advantages to studying abroad right now: smaller groups ensure you’ll get more personalized attention; you’ll get to know your host city without many tourists; and you’ll benefit from a tight-knit community.

While flexibility is an important part of all study abroad experiences, it’s even more important right now. Requirements and regulations are ever-changing, but one thing is certain: together with our partner host schools, we are doing everything we can to keep you safe, while maintaining the study abroad experience you always envisioned.

How can I get more information about how the program will work?
We know that it can feel overwhelming to think through all the details, so we are here to help! Here are three great ways to get a sense of what your experience will be like:

  • Contact an SAI Admissions Counselor – that’s what we’re here for! Reach us on email, via Live Chat (see bottom right box), or book a call with us.
  • Join a Town Hall to get all your questions answered.
  • Follow us on Instagram, and check out our blog to see the experience from a student’s perspective.

Once you’re enrolled, you’ll be invited to join a Pre-Departure Orientation and a Health & Safety Seminar, where we will give you all the information you need, and more!

What are your cancellation policies?
We have amended our cancellation policies to give you maximum flexibility. We have also pushed back our payment and application deadlines. For details see:

Summer 2021
Fall 2021

Could SAI cancel a program?
The SAI Health & Safety Committee is continually assessing the global situation and making determinations about active programs. While we don’t expect to cancel programs, it can happen. If the cancellation occurs prior to a program’s start, we provide a full refund for the program cost (less the non-refundable application fee). If it occurs after a program has begun, we will refund any recoverable costs (keep in mind that tuition and housing are generally not recoverable). We try to make pre-departure cancellation decisions with plenty of time for you to switch to another active program, but you also always have the option of deferring your enrollment to a future term.

What if my home school cancels study abroad?
If your home school cancels your study abroad program prior to the SAI cancellation policy going into effect, all program fees paid will be refunded (less the application fee, which is not refundable). If your home school cancels study abroad after the SAI cancellation policy goes into effect, we will make every effort to refund any recoverable costs.

When is the deadline to make a decision about going abroad?
We have pushed back our application deadlines to allow you more time to initiate an application. If you are unsure about whether you’d like to go, you can move ahead with your application while noting the date that the SAI cancellation policy penalty phase goes into effect. If you choose to defer your application to another term, or cancel your enrollment entirely before the SAI cancellation policy goes into effect you will only be liable for the application fee, which is not refundable.

What will housing be like?
Living arrangements will differ in each SAI location. Our current standard offering is for a shared bedroom in shared housing, with the option to upgrade to a private bedroom in shared housing. Housemates are treated as a “family unit”, and, if required, will be asked to quarantine together.

Will I have to quarantine when I arrive?
This answer varies by destination, and the mandates are ever-changing. Generally speaking, Spain has not imposed a mandatory quarantine for incoming students, while Italy and France have. In Italy, some airlines are offering flights that require a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding in the US and exempt the traveler from the quarantine requirement. Where they are available, we are urging all students to purchase these flights. For more up-to-date information, please contact an SAI Admissions Counselor (, or via Live Chat).

If I can’t go abroad right now, are there other options?
Yes there are! We are offering a number of virtual options; please see Virtual Internships and Virtual Academic Programs for details.

About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.