Study Abroad Summer Program Updates

Study Abroad Summer Program Updates

Dear AFS-USA Volunteers,

Please see below the most recent update that we have sent to applicants and parents in line for 4-8 week Summer and Global Prep programs planned to run in the summer of 2021! We are trying to be very transparent with parents and applicants about how the AFS network is making decisions about program viability and content during this special year.

We will continue to post copies of our messaging to applicants and parents in MyAFS News so that volunteers are aware of program changes, and also of what is being communicated out to our applicants. If you have additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly or reach out to


From: “AFS-USA” <>

Subject: AFS: April Update for 2021 Summer Programs

Date: April 16, 2021 at 2:54:31 PM PDT



Reply-To: “AFS-USA” <>


Dear Participants and Families,

We hope that spring is warmly welcoming you! As previously shared, we’re reaching out to continue our communication with you as we approach the summer season. We’re thrilled that you continue to pursue meaningful intercultural experiences and hope that we can support you during this process. This email includes:

  • Summer Program Updates
  • Anticipated Timeline
  • Guidance for Frequently Asked Questions
  • Next Steps

Summer Program Updates: 

  • Overall, conditions remain fluid and all summer destinations, including the U.S., have reported increased COVID-19 caseloads over the last 14-day period. The increases in vaccinations in the U.S. have been welcome, but we are not seeing similar projections applied to our host countries.
  • Unfortunately, we will be canceling our program to Thailand and Japan due to unfavorable conditions and increasingly limited international flight options. As a reminder, our summer programs to Germany and Costa Rica were canceled and this news was shared in the March update.
  • If your program has been canceled and you are interested in switching destinations or moving to a Summer 2022 program, please reply to this email to inform us of your decision. You can visit our website to view Summer Program options.

Anticipated Timeline:
As previously shared, we are closely monitoring the conditions in both the U.S. and our partner countries. In very simple terms, if both of the below travel conditions are not favorably changed, we will be required to cancel the program: 

  • If an American may not enter the country as a Tourist.
    • Currently, the following countries allow entry by U.S. Tourists: Colombia and Kenya
    • Currently, the following countries do not allow entry by U.S. Tourists: Argentina, Spain, Denmark, and France
  • If a quarantine is required for more than 15% of a program.
    • Currently, the following countries do not require quarantines that meet this threshold: Spain (0%), Kenya (0%)
    • Currently, the following countries require quarantines over this threshold: Argentina (48%), Colombia (48%), Denmark (38%), France (33%)

Guidance for Frequently Asked Questions: 

  • When will I know if my program will run?
    • We will provide a similar update of program feasibility by May 10. We will make a decision by May 24, which will be followed by a booking of international air travel and information regarding booking domestic travel if the program is confirmed.
  • Who will support me during the program? 
    • Our programs are run by in-country staff members and local volunteers. Your local AFS volunteers and AFS Staff are available to offer support and resources to promote a meaningful and enriching intercultural experience. AFS is connected by a 24/7 Emergency Duty Officer System, so our staff in the U.S. will be available for support, as well.
  • Will I need a passport? 
    • Yes, all countries will require a passport for travel. As processing times may be delayed, we recommend receiving a passport as soon as you’re able to. If you do not have a valid passport, you should reach out to AFS as soon as possible to discuss this.
  • Will I need a special visa?  
    • Unless you are traveling to Kenya, which requires an E-Visa for Tourists, programs will not require a visa. We will confirm if programs will require additional documentation for entry closer to departure.
  • Will I need a COVID-19 PCR test prior to travel?
    • Yes, all departures will require a negative PCR test. The timing of these will vary by country and are typically required between 24 and 96 hours before international departure. This is a requirement by the airlines and means that you will need to arrange for this in advance of your departure. AFS-USA staff will notify you of the specific PCR testing instructions that your destination country requires for entry. Please note that pre-departure PCR tests are not covered by the program fee. 
  • Will I need a COVID-19 PCR test while in-country?
    • Select destinations will require negative COVID-19 tests upon arrival in-country. All countries will require a negative COVID-19 test in order to re-enter the U.S. AFS-USA staff will provide this information to those whose programs require additional in-country testing closer to the program departure date as this information may change on a weekly basis. Please note any PCR testing required upon arrival is not covered by the program fee.  
  • Will I be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine? 
    • AFS cannot require that participants receive a COVID-19 vaccine, although we recommend that all advice offered by the CDC is followed. A COVID-19 vaccine would only be required if it is mandated by the government of a country for entry.
  • How accessible will the community be for students? (Aka, will they form a form of bubble?) 
    • Program groups will largely remain together, and unplanned community interactions will be limited. As such, it will be important to set expectations that the level of freedom typically structured into our programs will be limited.
  • Should a student contract or come in contact with a COVID exposure, what is the anticipated protocol? 
    • Each AFS Hosting partner has an Emergency Protocol plan in place and students will be connected with medical professionals, who will guide next steps. Should a student be close to a COVID-19 exposure,  our in-country AFS hosting partner, host family and/or local volunteers will assist the student to follow local health and government guidance regarding potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Will masks be required on the program? 
    • Yes, you will be expected to follow all required local and government health protocols and guidance while on program, including the wearing of a mask in areas requiring/advising mask use. Note that you should bring enough masks to cleanly wear throughout the duration of your program.
  • How will the Pandemic affect international travel: 
    • AFS has over 65 years of experience running programs and arranging travel. However, we can expect that the pandemic will present additional and unforeseen travel challenges, so while we cannot anticipate changes made at a governmental or corporate level, we can share that we will keep you informed – but in this environment, we must be ready for the unexpected.

Next Steps: 

Based on this information, we understand that you might want to reconsider your program destination or decide to postpone your program participation. We can accommodate changes in program for 2021 until May 10th. After that date, we will not be able to guarantee that you can change your program destination, even if your first program is canceled.

  • Should you wish to continue with your selected destination, please let us know if you have any questions.
  • Should you wish to change program destinations, you must inform AFS by May 10th.
  • Final decisions will be made on summer programs by May 24 unless a decision about the program is made at an earlier date. If your program is canceled for 2021 you have the option to withdraw your application or move it to a 2022 program. 
  • We look forward to continuing to share our decision-making with you as we approach the upcoming months.

If you have any questions, please email us at

Sharing our best,

The Study Abroad Team at AFS-USA