June 20, 2020 UPDATE: We will be running our Fall Semester in-person!
We have been talking with the Thai Consulates in the US, and they are issuing educational visas for students who want to study in Thailand. Other Thai consulates in other countries are doing the same. This means that if you want to do study abroad this Fall Semester, 2020, you can come to Thailand.
The program is open to both American and non-American students. If you are interested in applying or have been accepted and want to come, contact [email protected] as soon as possible for more information.
For students inside or outside the US the process is the same, and will require a special application, a COVID-19 test, and quarantine in Thailand. Please contact us ASAP if you are considering coming on the program so that we can work with you to ensure you can secure a visa and come to Thailand.
Numbers of new cases in Thailand have been dropping or very low for awhile now, and they are seeing limited transmission. The Thai pubic health policies and control measures seem to be working.
The following is based on our conversations with public health professionals and epidemiologists here in Thailand and Chiang Mai, as well as conversations internally and with community partners.
Our goal is to make sure that we can manage the inherent risks in study abroad, keep our students, staff, and partner communities healthy, all while managing the added complexity and unknowns surrounding the current pandemic.
Thailand doesn’t have the capacity for massive testing like South Korea, but they are doing a good job of test-track-isolate, and close to 100% mask wearing. Two of our staff are now working doing rapid COVID-19 tests, and Thailand is being very careful about opening up now that they’ve brought the numbers down. They had a nighttime curfew in place, bars were closed, etc., and they are easing things in stages so that they can asses things as they selectively open some sectors of the economy. People are still encouraged to stay at home and work from home if possible, comprehensive temperature screening is practiced in markets and stores, and contact tracing apps and websites are being rolled out.
OVERVIEW OF POLICIES once we are able to run programs
- All students arriving will get tested for COVID-19, and we will continue to test as recommended by the Thai Ministry of Public Health.
- Students will be quarantined for the length of time required by the Thai government, which is currently 14 days but may be reduced in the future. We will be able to conduct our orientation and initial language lessons during this time, as well as giving students time to recover from jet lag.
- We’re not going to be doing home stays, and will be staying in local guest houses in both the city and villages. This will help with physical distancing, and put our community partners at ease. Both our urban and village partners would be nervous about home stays.
- We are going to work together with community leaders to design program activities that reduce the risk of transmission. Most of our activities are outside and field based anyway, so that means a lot of our activities are already ready to go.
- We are designing a comprehensive online version of our semester, so that if we do need to shift to online again, it will be relatively seamless.
- We are going to be offering a Certificate in Sustainability Studies for students who go through our semester, in-person or online. We’ve been considering this for a few years, so are going to follow through with this now to add value to our program for our students, both online and in-person.
- On our campus and in our classrooms we will have the students spread out as much as possible, based on Thai government policy as well as emerging best practices.
- In line with Thai Ministry of Public Health Recommendations all students will be required to wear masks when in public and on-campus. Masks can come off for eating and exercising and in private.
CHALLENGES AND UNCERTAINTIES
There are a few challenges outside of our control that we are monitoring (June 20, 2020 update).
- The process for getting a visa and traveling to Thailand is clearer now. Students will need to have a letter from us and our Thai university partner, and then we will be able to guide our students through the process.
- Students will need to have a COVID-19 test, with results 72 hours before they fly.
- Space on repatriation flights is available once you’ve applied and been approved for a visa at a Thai consulate.
- All entries to Thailand require a 14 day quarantine at an approved hotel. We will cover this cost for students, and hold online classes while students are in quarantine.
If you are interested, contact us at [email protected] so that we can update you on the latest Thai government policies.