Messages sent to Study Abroad Students

Sent on June 8, 2020, updating students on the cancellation of the Fall 2020 study abroad programs:

Dear Students:

We hope you are doing well. We want first to thank you for your patience, understanding, and resilience during this very challenging time.

Study abroad is an essential part of your Notre Dame education. You have worked hard for this opportunity and were looking forward to spending a semester abroad. NDI has been working very closely with our partner institutions and our Global Gateways and Centers over the past couple of months to understand their fall semester planning and to assess the local health, safety, and security risks to ensure that you can have a meaningful and fulfilling experience. We have delayed making the decision until now, hoping the situation would improve and the travel restrictions would be lifted. However, at the present time, these global travel restrictions are still in place, most of the countries are not processing visas, and the pandemic is getting worse in parts of the world.

Regrettably, the University has reached the difficult but necessary decision to cancel all fall 2020 study abroad programs, including the fall semester for the academic year programs. We understand how disheartening and disappointing this is to you, but please know that we are committed to your international education. The study abroad team will be working with you in the coming weeks to offer you alternative options for spring 2021 and beyond.

You should have registered for the fall semester on campus already and you will receive instructions soon from Student Affairs on what you need to do to secure housing for fall semester. Your study abroad program director will also reach out to you with instructions on the next steps.

Please be assured again of our commitment to you and your education. We wish you a good summer and look forward to seeing you on campus in August.

In Notre Dame,

Michael Pippenger
Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization
Hong Zhu
Senior Director of Global Education

Sent on May 8, 2020, updating students on Fall 2020 study abroad programs:

Dear Fall 2020 Study Abroad Students:

We hope you have had a good semester in spite of all the unprecedented challenges you are facing and that you are staying safe and healthy!

We are writing to provide a brief update on the current status of fall study abroad. As you recall, an e-mail was sent to you on April 7th stating that we would notify you of a final decision on study abroad during the first few weeks of May.

Now that May is here and yet the effects of the global pandemic continue to create an uncertain and unpredictable environment. Travel bans and CDC warnings remain in place; foreign governments still are not processing student visas, and many of our partner universities and organizations haven’t made announcements about their fall semester plans. While the future is not clear, we continue to prepare for the possibility that you could be abroad in the fall. The study abroad team remains in close, regular contact with our partners around the world and the University remains vigilant in monitoring global affairs very closely. Many countries are in the early phases of reopening and some universities abroad are developing potential plans to bring students back to their campuses in the fall, in some cases even shortening the semester to avoid visa complications.

While we remain hopeful, it is simply still too early to make the final call at this time and we ask for your patience, flexibility, and understanding and we will make a final decision in the coming weeks. As a result, NDI is waiving the withdrawal fees for study abroad for this semester.

Please continue your preparation for the term abroad as guided by your program directors and we will be in touch!

In Notre Dame,

Michael Pippenger
Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization

Hong Zhu
Senior Director of Global Education

Sent on April 7, 2020, updating students on Fall 2020 study abroad programs:

Dear Fall 2020 Study Abroad Students,

We hope this message finds you and your families in good health and that your classes, now that they have resumed, are going well. We are writing to provide a brief update on the current status of fall study abroad. As of now, we hope to be able to run all of our global education programs worldwide next semester. To that end, as you know, we have been holding pre-departure orientations to prepare you to be abroad next semester.

In these uncertain and unprecedented times, however, there are many factors that could prohibit our ability to offer these study abroad programs and that we are monitoring daily. The ongoing pandemic could very well lead to travel bans and CDC warnings remaining in place, foreign governments not processing student visas, and partner universities and educational organizations not being able to host our students. The situation remains fluid; the future unclear. We will notify you of a final decision on study abroad during the first few weeks of May.

Should we suspend study abroad in the fall because of these factors or others we cannot yet foresee, we want to ensure that you will still be able to fulfill your academic and curricular goals on campus. To that end, you will be assigned a time during April registration by the registrar. We ask that you register for courses on campus as a backup plan should fall study abroad be suspended.

As we stated at this email's outset, as of now, we remain hopeful that you will be abroad in the fall. Should it come to pass, however, that you are on campus for fall semester, we know that you may also be concerned about on-campus housing. We are planning for this possibility. Most importantly, we anticipate there will be adequate space on campus to accommodate study abroad students if necessary. An additional housing lottery and room picks process would be conducted to allow as many students as possible to return to their home hall.

Please know that your health, safety, and well-being are our number one priority always. We recognize that responding to COVID-19 has asked much of all of us and we appreciate your flexibility, understanding, and support during this difficult time.

In Notre Dame,

Michael Pippenger
Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization

Erin Hoffmann Harding
Vice President for Student Affairs

Sent on March 17, 2020, announcing the closure of all summer study abroad programs:

Dear Study Abroad Summer Students,

Due to the escalation of COVID-19 globally and the uncertainty ahead, the University has made the very difficult, but necessary, decision to suspend all NDI Summer 2020 outbound study abroad programs.

We understand your disappointment with this decision; however, your safety and well-being are the University’s top priority. We appreciate your support and assistance in this very challenging time! We look forward to being able to help you pursue your global education experiences in the future and stand ready to help when the situation changes.

Study Abroad

Sent on March 11, 2020, following President Trump's announcement at 9:00PM:

Dear Spring 2020 Students Abroad:

As you all know, based on today’s announcement by Father Jenkins, the University was in the process of booking your flights. While most of those flights were booked today, please know that we are actively monitoring the European travel restrictions announced tonight by President Trump. These travel restrictions go into place on Friday, March 13th. The statement from the Department of Homeland Security indicates that the travel restrictions apply to foreign nationals traveling to the United States, and they do not apply to both U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents of the U.S. These restrictions do not appear to apply to any travel from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Based on this new announcement, partners from Anthony Travel and Notre Dame International may try to reach you if your flights need to be rebooked. Rebooking will prioritize the small number of students studying abroad that we currently believe may be impacted by this message. Please respond immediately to any Notre Dame messages. We will share more information as soon as we receive it.


Hong Zhu, Ed.D.
Senior Director of Global Education
Notre Dame International
University of Notre Dame
105 Main Building, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Phone: 1-574-631-3229

Sent on March 11, 2020 at 1:20PM, announcing the closure of all semester study abroad programs:

Dear Spring 2020 Study Abroad Students,

A few minutes ago, you should have received a message from Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C. While there are no known cases of COVID-19 among our students, faculty, or staff, the University has made the decision to suspend in-person classes after spring break until April 13, 2020.

This has prompted the University to make the difficult but necessary decision to end all study abroad programming for the remainder of the semester, effective immediately.

NDI has been working very closely with the Gateways and Centers, our partner institutions, and various units on campus. Please know that we are committed to your academic success and continuity and will do everything we can to enable you to complete this semester. More details will follow in the coming days.

In the immediate future, please be advised of the following:

  • You will be departing from your study abroad program location at some point between Friday, March 13 and Monday, March 16. If you are currently traveling, please return to your study abroad program location as soon as possible.
  • Anthony Travel is booking your flight to the nearest airport to the home address we have on record. You will receive a travel itinerary soon.
  • If you are an F-1 visa holder and cannot return to your home country, please contact the Office of Residential Life at
  • Upon entry into the U.S. or at another international airport, you should be prepared to be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If you have traveled to Italy or any other Level 3 country in the past two weeks, upon returning home, please follow CDC recommendations to self-quarantine for 14 days at your home after your first screening. Information on what this entails is located on the University Health Services’ website.
  • If you have not traveled to Italy or any other Level 3 country in the past two weeks, you are not required to self-quarantine.
  • The University is committed to your academic continuity and is currently making plans to allow everyone to finish the spring semester either through online learning or by other means. Once these details are finalized, we will contact you via email.

We understand your disappointment with this decision; however, your safety and well-being are the University’s top priority. We are committed to doing everything possible to help you in this transition.

We appreciate your patience as we make your travel arrangements. If you have any urgent questions, please write to or call 1-574-631-1138.

Hong Zhu
Senior Director of Global Education

Sent on February 28, 2020, following the closure of all programming in Italy:

Dear Spring 2020 Students Abroad:
We are writing to inform you that the decision today by the CDC and the State Department to raise the travel advisory for Italy to Warning Level 3 due to an increasing spread of the COVID-19 has prompted Notre Dame officials to end all programming in Italy, including the Rome Global Gateway programs, for the remainder of the semester.
Please be assured that your own study abroad program will remain in operation unless the CDC or the U.S. Department of State raises the level of alert for your country.  Please remain aware of the rapidly evolving public health risks wherever you may be.
Given that your safety is the University’s top priority, we want to strongly discourage you from traveling to Italy at this time. We are in regular contact with the gateways and centers, our global partners, as well as your host institutions. The University’s safety and security team continue to monitor world responses to the current COVID 19 outbreak.
As you continue your journey abroad, we encourage all of you to be extra vigilant as you plan your travel and follow CDC guidelines, register your personal travel and keep your program directors informed. We are here to support you and please feel free to reach out if you have any concerns or need assistance. We encourage you to share this message with your parents and guardians.
Warm regards!
 Study Abroad

Sent on February 26, 2020, providing a FAQ document for students and parents:

Dear Notre Dame study abroad participants,

Notre Dame International continues to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak, which has now spread beyond mainland China with sizable outbreaks in several countries. This FAQ document was created to answer any questions you may have.   Please carefully review it in its entirety, share the information with your emergency contact and your parents, and contact should you have questions.

Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus named COVID-19. The CDC has now classified several countries as Level 2 (practice enhanced precautions) and Level 3 (avoid non-essential travel).
More information about this coronavirus has been posted on the CDC website and U.S. State Department website.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, much like the common cold and flu. Coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle aches, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Because this is a new virus, information is still developing, including all the ways it is transmitted. Anyone who has symptoms described above and has traveled to areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak within 14 days prior or who has had contact with someone known to be infected with coronavirus (or who is currently being tested), is encouraged to contact a health care provider. Please note that reporting suspected cases to local health authorities varies from country to country.
How can it be prevented?
As with any virus, it is important to use good self-care habits, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 70 percent alcohol
  • Cover your cough
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Don’t share food or drinks 

What if I get sick while abroad and have traveled to COVID-19 affected areas?
At this time, anyone presenting with a fever, cough, aches/pains who has recently traveled to the affected areas or has been in contact with people coming from the affected areas should adhere to local health authority reporting procedures.
If you have flu or cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by doing the following:

  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Don’t share food or drinks
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces

 You can also do some things to relieve your symptoms:

  • Take pain and fever medications
  • Use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough

 If you are mildly sick, you should:

  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Stay home and rest 

How is Notre Dame monitoring COVID-19 globally?
University officials in South Bend continue to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide and have met regularly since early January 2020 to review the constantly evolving situation. Since the very recent spike in COVID-19 cases confirmed in Northern Italy, officials at our Rome Global Gateway have also joined these meetings, and they have become more frequent. Notre Dame utilizes a number of resources to assess international health and safety risks, including government alerts and advisories (U.S. and foreign), open source news, alerts and reports from our international insurance and security providers, benchmarking with others in higher education, and more.
Has the University suspended any international travel or study abroad programs since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak?
Notre Dame has suspended all University-sponsored travel to mainland China and South Korea in response to the outbreaks of COVID-19 in these countries. These announcements and any future University-wide announcements can be found at and
If I already have plans to travel this weekend or during spring break, should I continue my trip?
As you prepare for spring break and any personal travel you may have planned already, we encourage you to contemplate the fluidity of the COVID-19 outbreak beyond the borders of those areas most significantly affected and assessed as high risk areas, and carefully review the guidance listed below. Your travel plans, personal health, and academic experience could be seriously affected if you do not fully research or consider the following: 

  • Strongly reconsider personal travel to areas currently experiencing coronavirus outbreaks or are assessed as high risk.
  • NDI study abroad students must register all personal travel with local NDI program staff. In the absence of local NDI program staff, study abroad students should register all personal travel using the Personal Travel While Abroad registry. This is out of an abundance of caution so that NDI can quickly locate and contact you in the event the situation suddenly changes at your study location or at your destination while you are away.
  • Do not travel if you are sick; travelers who are sick risk being quarantined and undergoing tests.
  • Diligently check your Notre Dame email and cell phone messages regularly, in case Notre Dame attempts to reach you should the safety of an environment deteriorate.
  • Understand and routinely check any travel and border restrictions in transit, at your proposed destination and upon your return (i.e. denial of entry or mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival).
  • Allow additional time for arrival procedures, or when passing through affected area airports, taking into account temperature and health screenings.
  • If you are traveling or transiting from COVID-19 affected areas, anticipate more stringent scrutiny and reconfirm the status of flights with your carrier or the airport.
  • Monitor developments through the U.S. State Department and CDC websites.
  • Follow all official directives by authorities.
  • Keep your mobile devices fully charged at all times.
  • Stay in touch with your emergency contact back home.
  • Pack any important documents and necessities, like your passport, visa, health insurance card, and an ample supply of any maintenance medications taken on a regular basis. 

How does Notre Dame decide to suspend travel or study abroad programs?
The University’s Undergraduate Student International Student Policy has a mechanism for mandating early departure or evacuation from locations for health, safety, or security reasons. During the decision-making process, the University takes into consideration all information, advice, and alerts issued by the U.S. Department of State, the CDC, and our international insurance and security providers, in addition to established escalation triggers that are situation dependent. We also benchmark with peer institutions and our partners, when applicable.
What would happen if Notre Dame decided my study abroad program or other University-sponsored travel was suspended?
In the event of a program or travel suspension, the University would return students, faculty and staff to the United States and work directly with them and departments to minimize disruption to their academic studies, if applicable.
What if I choose to leave my study abroad program that has not been suspended?
Notre Dame respects the decision of any student who wishes to return home while abroad. Based on the academic code, "a student may request a voluntary withdrawal during a semester for appropriate reasons. A voluntary withdrawal during a semester is contingent upon review and approval by the student’s dean (or the dean’s designee).” You are encouraged to reach out to your advising dean for consultation before making the decision. Study Abroad will assist you in the process.
Who does Notre Dame send these messages to?
If international travel is registered with the University, the University will provide updates to students, faculty, and staff abroad via email to their Notre Dame email addresses. Please note that the University only contacts designated emergency contacts in very specific situations. These updates can be found at Please consider sharing this information with your parents or guardian.
Who can I contact if I have questions about spring 2020 study abroad programs and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak?
For questions about any study abroad programs, please contact