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Harvard Suspends Fall 2020 Study Abroad

University Hall, an administrative building, is located in Harvard Yard.
University Hall, an administrative building, is located in Harvard Yard. By Jenny M. Lu
By Juliet E. Isselbacher and Amanda Y. Su, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard College has suspended all study abroad for the fall 2020 semester, director of International Education Camila Nardozzi wrote in an email to program applicants Wednesday.

The suspension applies to all in-person international programs, including the fall terms of year-long academic programs.

Nardozzi wrote that the College made the “difficult” decision in response to factors such as student safety, fluctuating travel restrictions, and disruptions in visa processing.

She added that administrators also wanted to be conscientious about the potential impact of incoming Harvard students on local healthcare systems in the case of a coronavirus resurgence.

Melody M. Wang ’22, who planned to study abroad in Denmark this fall, said she was “disappointed” but not surprised at the announcement.

“I was holding on to a little bit of hope that Harvard would allow programs to determine independently if they were going to run or not, instead of Harvard just banning students from participating in any type of study abroad,” she said.

Wang said while her program itself has yet to announce its plans for the fall, she said she expected that it would continue as planned since the severity of the pandemic has waned in Denmark and the country has begun easing lockdown restrictions.

Ezra B. Feder ’23 said he also applied to a program in Denmark, as well as to a program hosted by Hebrew University in Israel.

“I'm concerned about this upcoming semester at Harvard because I'm not excited for the online classes. And so I thought that I would apply to study abroad in the hopes of finding a program where classes were in-person,” he said.

The College informed students in a town hall earlier this month that fall courses would be largely — if not entirely — virtual, regardless of whether students return to live on campus.

Since rates of coronavirus infections in both Denmark and Israel are lower than in the U.S., Feder said he hoped studying in either location would afford him “a more normal college experience.”

“In many instances, it's probably less safe to be in the U.S. than it is to be in these other countries,” he added.

Feder said the College’s decision to suspend international programming might spur him to take a leave of absence, though his plans are contingent on whether undergraduates will be allowed to return to campus in the fall.

After her study abroad plans fell through, Wang also said she would consider a leave of absence next semester.

University Provost Alan M. Garber ’76 wrote in an email May 11 that Harvard has prohibited all University-related international travel until further notice. The policy applies to all Harvard affiliates, including students, faculty, and staff. The University also strongly discouraged personal international travel.

Nardozzi wrote in her email that while Harvard would not permit any undergraduate to study abroad for the fall, the Office of International Education is “fully committed” to assist students in considering study abroad options in the future.

—Staff writer Juliet E. Isselbacher can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @julietissel.

—Staff writer Amanda Y. Su can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @amandaysu.

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