Coronavirus and Study Abroad

Coronavirus and study abroad

Updated on Monday, March 16 8:00am

The University of Northern Iowa's Study Abroad Center (SAC) continues to monitor developments globally around the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impacts on our study abroad programs and international travelers. We fully realize that the perception of the COVID-19 virus diffused by the media may be troubling for students and families, unfortunately, many of the news sources are not relying on the official channels​ such as the U.S. Department of State and Center for Disease Control (CDC). 

UNI launched a webpage ( ) to keep the campus updated about the COVID-19. Specific announcements from the university can be found on this page. Individuals are also encouraged to submit suggestions to the Task Force at UNI monitoring this situation in the online form on this site.  

What should travelers do?

COVID-19 has now been declared a Pandemic. We encourage travelers to be aware of advisories and advice identified by the CDC, US Department of State, and the World Health Organization (WHO). We recommend travelers know the symptoms and identify local healthcare resources in case services are needed. You can find local providers by contacting AXA-Assistance using the number provided with your travel insurance. If you have not already done so, download the AlertTraveler app that is provided to you, which will provide timely information about this and other safety concerns that may develop.  We would like to stress the importance of relying on credible information from these sources as the situation continues to evolve. 

All travelers are encouraged to practice preventative actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses including:

  • Improve your immune system by getting enough rest (eight hours is ideal), exercising regularly, and eating healthy.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid spreading germs.​
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home from work, classes, social events when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.   
  • Travelers who feel sick with fever or cough or difficulty breathing should seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room.
  • For travelers returning from a Level 1 or 2 country, watch your health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the United States.
  • For travelers returning from a Level 3 or 4 country, stay home and monitor your health during travel and for 14 days after returning to the United States. 

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses.   The CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

Students with any health-related concerns or questions, please contact the Student Health Clinic at (319)-273-2009 opt.#1

More details from the UNI Student Health Center may be found at

Travel Restrictions & Suspension of Programs

The University of Northern Iowa and its Study Abroad Center have made the decision to cancel all study abroad summer programs for 2020.  This decision was not made lightly and our number one priority is the safety of all our students, faculty and staff.  By making this decision on March 5, it allows students to make alternate plans for the summer in regards to their academics. Students who were planning on participating in a summer program for 2020 should work with the SAC if they have questions. We continue to monitor the situation and follow advice from the CDC and the US Department of State, as well as the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Study abroad staff are working with partner institutions and academics at UNI to provide advice and guidance to students currently in programs. Should conditions change such that the CDC or the US State Department recommends against travel to a destination, SAC will work with travelers in that destination to leave the area. SAC has a contingency plan in place that will be activated in case of an official mandate regarding study abroad programs.

In addition, the Board of Regents released a statement to cancel all faculty, staff, and student university-sponsored international travel for the next 30 days (from March 5, 2020). The full statement can be found on the Board of Regents Webpage

Should students make the individual and personal decision to return to the U.S., SAC will work with the student on a case by case basis. 

SAC is committed to providing options that fulfill the best interests of our entire student community.