International Scholars Program: COVID-19 Guidelines and Waiver

Student International Travel to the United States

Entering the United States:

  • Successful issuance of a ‘new’ J-1 or F-1 visa by the U.S. embassy in your home
    country implies that the visa holder will be allowed to enter the United States and is exempt from travel restrictions that may be in place for their country of origin.
  • Students who may have a ‘pre-pandemic’ visa (e.g., F-1 students who returned to their home country during the summer of 2020) should confirm with the U.S. embassy in their home country if they will be allowed entry into the United States prior to departing from their home country.
  • During the visa interview or upon issuance of the visa, some U.S. embassies are providing students with instructions referent to their entry into the United States.
  • International Scholars Program students who receive this information are asked to share these instructions with the International Scholars Program coordinator and ask any questions that they may have to ensure full understanding of the instructions. International Scholars Program students should also be sure to carefully follow the directions received during travel. Students are also recommended to ask questions they may have about U.S. entry during their visa interview.
  • Upon arrival in the United States, students will be asked to self-isolate or quarantine per guidance from the Center for Disease Control. Students may also be required to get tested for COVID-19 shortly after their arrival. Additional information regarding these recommendations are included here:CDC: Center for Disease Control
    DHS: Department of Homeland Security
    CDC: Self-Isolation Information

Precautions During Travel

  • The universal basic guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and for protecting yourself are social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent hand-washing. The Niskayuna International Scholars Program urges all students to abide by these guidelines, as well as any additional directions given by the airlines and customs officers during their journey to the United States.
  • Additionally, the Niskayuna International Scholars Program recommends all incoming students to visit and carefully read through this section of the CDC website with important guidelines on staying safe while traveling.

Adjusting Expectations

Similar to the 2020-21 academic year, the 2021-22 year will be obviously and inevitably different due to the presence of COVID-19. We hope applicants to the International Scholars program understand that the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are constantly evolving. Here are some items we ask all applicants to consider:

  • Students should anticipate social distancing practices, mask-wearing, and the continued
    encouragement of frequent hand washing.
  • During the 2020-21 academic year, Niskayuna High School has implemented a hybrid learning model with students having the opportunity to attend both in-person and virtual class sessions. The 2021-22 scheduling plans have not yet been finalized by school officials.
  • School extracurricular activities (such as clubs, events, and interscholastic athletics) may be limited or suspended in some instances. Large gatherings will be limited.

To access additional information regarding COVID-19 in New York state and Schenectady County (the county for which Niskayuna Central Schools is located), please review the following resources:
New York State Department of Health
Schenectady County Department of Health: COVID-19 Information

Rules of Conduct

  • CDC, State, Local health department, and Niskayuna Central Schools guidelines on COVID-19 are to be understood and adhered to by International Scholars Program participants and host families, incorporated by and upheld by the International Scholars Program and Niskayuna Central Schools.
  • International Scholars Program participants in violation of these guidelines will be subject to disciplinary action or removal from the International Scholars Program.
  • Host families’ own household guidelines on COVID-19 are incorporated and
    implemented at the discretion of the host family and in accordance with the International Scholars Program. Students are expected to follow these guidelines as they are expected to follow any other household rules.
  • Should any member of the host family, including the International Scholars Program student, test positive for COVID-19, the expectation of the International Scholars Program is that the student be treated as a member of the family and the situation be handled as such in accordance with guidance from the International Scholars Program leadership. That said, all pertinent and recommended health department guidelines and protocols are expected to be followed. Additionally, the International Scholars Program coordinator will provide assistance to all involved for special case-by-case
    considerations if necessary.
  • Testing positive for or being exposed to COVID-19, be it the International Scholars Program student or a member of the host family, shall be reported immediately to the International Scholars Program coordinator.
    ● Should the student or any other host family member feel sick, please adhere to the advice courtesy of the CDC.

Health Insurance

  • Valid health insurance is a requirement for all International Scholars Program students. If a student exhibits COVID-like symptoms which require COVID-19 testing, the students’ health insurance policy must cover the cost of testing.
  • A copy of a valid health insurance card must be presented to the International Scholars Program coordinator upon arrival in the United States.
  • Regardless of the student’s health care provider, a student should receive and
    understand their provider’s policies, protocol, and provisions surrounding COVID-19. In the event that a student must be hospitalized and/or receive emergency and/or long-term care as a result of COVID-19, the student and/or the student’s health care provider assume responsibility for the costs associated with any and all health care services.

Contingency Plans

With the unpredictability of COVID-19, potential challenges facing international students under the supervision of the International Scholars Program should be considered prior to each student’s attendance with Niskayuna Schools.

The International Scholars Program will approach potential challenges presented by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis with careful consideration to the specific circumstances pertinent to each student and each host family. Factors considered when evaluating each situation may include the infection rate in Schenectady County, a student’s infection rate in their own country,
the perspective of the student’s natural and host families, as well as potential travel restrictions in the United States and abroad.

The International Scholars’ Program maintains a commitment to the safety and success of our students. Accompanied with a case-by-case approach to problem solving and consistent communication, the International Scholars Program hopes to provide a worthwhile international experience for each student. In the event of COVID-19 circumstances that may hinder or alter a
student’s experience, consultation with all stakeholders is imperative for ensuring each student’s safety and well being.