Below is a list of questions that the International Department has been asked over the past several weeks. We will continue to keep the international community at Eastern Christian School abreast of all of the changes occurring because of Covid-19.
This statement is from our International Student Advisor, Anna DeJulia, to one of our students on the Covid-19 situation and Eastern Christian School may best summarize the situation we all now find ourselves in:
“The important point to remember is that we are working on making decisions as quickly as possible. We cannot make decisions for the fall yet because we don’t have answers. Our school is operating on making decisions as soon as we can and this depends upon guidance from our local, state and federal authorities. I know this doesn’t help you with your specific answers. However, the most important idea we want you to know – Eastern Christian School is committed to ensuring the safety of its international students and is determined to support them so they can reach their academic goals. You are not alone in this – schools all across the nation are having to adjust in a similar manner. Remember, how to process your thinking during this pandemic is to trust in your school – to trust us (the International Department, the Administration and your Teachers) based on what you have experienced with us in the past and during this pandemic. You know us and how we care for you. We haven’t changed – only the situation has! We will support you through this so try not to be anxious about it and trust us to guide you during this unprecedented time.”
If I leave the country, how will I get the Travel Endorsement Signature on my I-20 form signed?
DSO’s are currently permitted to send I-20 Forms to students’ via email due to Covid-19. If you need your I-20 signed, please contact Mrs. Lagerveld at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Will I have to apply for a new F-1 Visa if I am out of the country for more than 5 months?
If an active F-1 student leaves the United States to complete their spring term online, their SEVIS record will remain in Active status and not be terminated. If a student is making normal progress in their course of study by attending class and submitting all required coursework, the five-month temporary absence provision will not apply for those students.
How will my attendance be affected if I return home and cannot sign on to my online classes?
Students who decide to finish their academic coursework in their home country are required to log in to all of their classes AS THEY CAN, even with the time zone differences. However, we will still support students if they experience any problems accessing their classes or if students find they are unable to attend their classes (especially for Blocks 3 and/or 4) due to time zone differences. While we realize this is not an ideal situation, we are adjusting and will continue to support our students in the best possible manner so they can complete their studies with us this semester.
If I return to China before the final exam, how are my classes going to work? Will my grades be impacted because I go back to China?
As long as students keep up with their work, their grades should not be impacted, but their learning method may be. In addition, colleges and universities across the United States are well aware of the impact this pandemic has had on grading systems throughout U.S. high schools and are prepared to work with all secondary institutions and students in an empathetic manner when they process high school transcripts for future college applications.
Will we be able to go home in June?
Students will be allowed to go home in June assuming international travel is permitted to a student’s respective country. We understand that students want to be with their families during this difficult time. However, if students wish to stay in the U.S., our Host Family Coordinator will assist them with finding a good homestay during the summer months. It might not be in their current homestay, but we will find a good alternative homestay for them. Homestay fees will remain the same as in our regular school year. If you have any specific homestay questions, please contact SandraDeMarco@easternchristianschool.org.
How do I maintain emotional wellness during the COVID-19 outbreak?
As the world faces the current COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to embrace healthy habits to maintain your overall sense of well-being. You can utilize online resources such as https://www.internationalstudentinsurance.com/explained/mental-health/emotional-wellness-during-covid-19-outbreak/ or reach out to our school counselor at PaigeVisser@easternchristian.org or our school nurse at email@example.com for any medical-related concerns.
Will international students be able to return to the United States if they are continuing their studies outside of the country as a result of COVID-19?
If students remain in Active status by continuing to attend classes and submit coursework, they will be eligible to re-enter the United States. Because travel restrictions are constantly changing, students should check the DHS and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) websites for information about current travel restrictions to the United States.
What will happen if international students can’t get back to EC when school begins in the Fall? Will remote learning still be available for international students?
If international students cannot return for the beginning of the school year due to travel restrictions, Eastern Christian School will continue to offer remote learning for our international students so that their academic progress will not be delayed or negatively impacted.
Is there a time frame for when students are expected to return to the United States once the COVID-19 emergency is over and schools have resumed normal operations?
As of now, Eastern Christian School is planning to re-open and return to normal operations on September 1, 2020. International students will have 30 days after that date to return to the U.S. and maintain their active status in SEVIS. However, if there are travel restrictions in place at that time and students cannot return to the U.S., Eastern Christian School will continue remote learning for all of our international students until they can arrive safely in the U.S.
Will I need to be quarantined separately when I return to the school in August? Where would I stay during quarantine? Will my homestay allow me to be quarantined by them? Does the school provide a place to live or a solution to that?
We assume international students will need to be quarantined when they return to the U.S. at the end of August, but we do not have a specific answer to that question yet. Eastern Christian School will work to make effective decisions to ensure the welfare of our international students and community. In the event of a school-imposed quarantine, we will make sure our students are safe and supported as well as advise you on the solutions to these questions and to their quarantine placement. However, if a self-quarantine is mandated, students will not be permitted to quarantine with their host family. One word of advice to students: If you are permitted to travel to the U.S. at the end of August, plan accordingly and schedule to arrive at least two weeks before the start of school on September 1.
Should I still apply if I am unsure of whether I will be able to start this fall of 2020?
Yes, we highly encourage all of our applicants to still apply to EC now and have their application processed and complete. If students are unable to start for the fall term, we will defer your application and any associated costs/tuition to the following school term. We want our applicants to be in a strong position to attend once the pandemic resides and will fully support our accepted students and families to that end.
If I am accepted to the school but I cannot travel to the U.S. for the Fall Semester, what will happen?
Newly enrolled students will have the option of either beginning remote learning for the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year or deferring their application to the Spring 2021 semester, which begins on January 26, 2021. New applicants will not receive a tuition invoice until they have received their F-1 student Visa.
Can the school offer admissions decisions depending upon receipt of official documents at a later time if we have problems accessing bank documents, transcripts, etc.?
Unfortunately, we are unable to offer conditional acceptances and issue I-20’s to new students if we do not have all of the required official documentation needed for our application.
Will the school accept alternate methods of home-based English proficiency testing if students cannot take a TOEFL?
We will work with individuals on a case-by-case basis to help them complete their application as quickly and efficiently as possible.
When will U.S. embassies be reopening?
Unfortunately, we do not know the answer to this question. We hope that embassies will start reopening by May or June.
Are application deadlines extended given the circumstances?
Eastern Christian School will accept new applications through July 31, 2020, in order to give a student enough time to arrive for the Fall Semester.
How is the school handling the safety of its students during this crisis?
At the very minimum, Eastern Christian School will be following best practices from local authorities, federal authorities and the CDC. We will continue to keep our community updated regarding safety requirements when Eastern Christian School buildings officially reopen. Maintaining the safety and well-being of our students remains our highest priority during this time.
If my child gets sick, will they have health insurance to cover the illness?
Yes. All international students have student health insurance that will cover them for sickness and accidents. Eastern Christian School provides this health insurance to the student through the international tuition.
Thank you for your support and trust of Eastern Christian School during this unprecedented time. We are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our international students. If you have any specific concerns that weren’t addressed in this document, please feel free to contact Anna DeJulia, International Student Advisor at AnnaDeJulia@easternchristian.org.