5/20/21 Update: Meeting with Members of the U.S. Department of State Last Week
As you may recall, The Forum, along with 10 other international education organizations, signed a letter to Secretary Antony Blinken to express our strong concerns regarding the April 19, 2021, travel advisory update. Read the letter to Secretary Blinken»
We are pleased to share that the Department responded swiftly to our request for a meeting. Forum President & CEO Melissa Torres and representatives from other education abroad organizations met with senior officials in the Bureau of Consular Affairs last week and reiterated our concerns and requests.
During the meeting, they learned that Consular Affairs is now updating their advisories weekly and that 20 countries were returned to Level 3. The Department also promised to consider our other suggestions and to keep open the channels of communication between us.
We hope to receive and share with you a formal response from the Department to our letter soon!
5/6/21: The Forum Joins Other Organizations to Request Meeting with Secretary of State
The Forum has been advocating for members since the beginning of the pandemic, beginning with our letter to the CDC on March 11, 2020 and continuing today with a joint letter to the Secretary of State. I am pleased to inform you that The Forum, along with 10 other international education organizations, signed a letter to Secretary Antony Blinken to share our concerns regarding the April 19, 2021, travel advisory update. As you know, the update significantly increased the number of countries at “Level 4: Do Not Travel” to approximately 80 percent of countries worldwide. The goal of this letter is to preserve the opportunity for students to safely study abroad in the coming academic year while also increasing confidence in the tools and resources that the Department of State provides.
The letter asks the State Department to:
- State unequivocally that the travel advisory should not be considered the sole criterion for determining whether or not to send students to study overseas;
- Specify which additional sources institutions should consider in making their decisions on student mobility and risk;
- Meet with the undersigned organizations to discuss possible changes in the Level 4 advisory that acknowledge differences among those countries with that rating;
- Consider the need for a rapid, 30-day review to determine whether states that were recently moved to Level 4 should be moved back to Level 3 and/or whether the alignment with CDC’s rankings is beneficial.
Thank you to all members who participated in our Open Forum on Developing Risk Mitigation on May 3. Notes and resources collected during the Open Forum are now available online. I also remind you to utilize the Guidelines for Conducting Education Abroad During COVID-19 when making decisions and plans for your education abroad programs.
The Forum remains committed to helping our members rebuild and restructure education abroad, and we will continue to advocate on behalf of students everywhere.
Melissa A. Torres
President & CEO, The Forum on Education Abroad
Read the Joint Letter
View our Full list of COVID-19 Resources