COVID-19 FAQs for Spring 2021

DIS COVID-19 FAQs for Spring 2021

Last update: January 8, 2021

DIS is carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Denmark and Sweden. We hope you will find these responses to frequently asked questions useful for the spring 2021 semester – otherwise please contact us at dis@umn.edu or 800-247-3477. We will continue updating this page regularly and will also notify enrolled students of significant updates via email.

Can U.S. students enter Denmark and Sweden?

On January 8, Danish authorities announced a new restriction temporarily preventing entry into Denmark for several categories that had previously been allowed to enter under worthy purpose exceptions to the COVID-19 travel ban – including visiting students. The restriction, which is currently set for January 10 to January 17, could of course have implications on our ability to welcome students in Copenhagen on January 16 as planned. We are waiting for official notice from the authorities with more detail than what was shared at today’s press conference, and DIS staff will meet with Danish immigration authorities on Monday morning January 11th to explore what this means for our students. We will update enrolled students and their home universities as we learn more. 

DIS Stockholm has confirmation from Swedish authorities that students ARE allowed to enter for the purpose of study at DIS.

We will continue to closely monitor border policies, update guidance here as needed, and provide detailed instructions and documentation to enrolled students ahead of your departure for Scandinavia.

Does DIS have any recommendations for arranging travel to Scandinavia?

We recommend you purchase your flight directly from your airline of choice because it will allow you to work with the airline in case of any necessary changes. As you explore flight options, please take time to review ticket change fees and policies, travel insurance options and the airline’s protocols on COVID-19. This will provide you with a sense of what protective measures are being taken, provided the current circumstances in air travel.

Ideally, book a direct flight landing between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. local time on Arrival Day (January 16) if one is available. If this isn’t possible, find a flight plan with as few connections as possible. We’ve had students successfully arrive this fall with connecting flights through various U.S. and European cities, but a direct flight is the most secure way to avoid delays, minimize exposure, and limit risks of possibly being denied boarding. If you are unable to arrive on Arrival Day, book a flight that arrives before, not after Arrival Day. You’ll need to cover your own accommodation and local transportation before Arrival Day, but we can recommend a hotel and will share detailed guidance with early-arriving students via email and at final orientation in January.

Additionally, we strongly urge that you have a return flight arranged prior to your arrival in Denmark or Sweden. Please keep in mind you must be checked out of your housing by 12:00 p.m. on departure day, May 15, 2021.

Do I need to quarantine or be tested prior to traveling to Scandinavia?

To avoid spreading COVID-19 in your travels to Scandinavia, please plan to be extra cautious in the 14 days leading up to your flight to Scandinavia — avoid socializing, working outside your home, and any personal travel during this period.

At present, all travelers arriving in Copenhagen must present a negative COVID-19 upon arrival. Enrolled students have been sent further details. This is not currently required for travelers arriving in Stockholm.

Regardless of your final destination, some airports have additional requirements (e.g. travelers through Amsterdam must have a negative PCR test from within the past 72 hours, even just for a layover), so please check with your airline for additional requirements.

Questions about pre-departure testing or quarantine? Contact health.accommodation@dis.dk.

Will I need to quarantine or be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in Scandinavia?

Yes! Students will be tested at the airport upon arrival and quarantine – while awaiting results – currently planned for 72 hours. DIS will provide housing, food, support, and virtual programming during this period. Students living with hosts will quarantine before moving into their Homestays. Please note that some elements including the length of quarantine could change based on local conditions, and we will provide updates at the final pre-departure orientation on January 12th.

Arrival COVID-19 testing will be at no additional cost to students, and students do not need to arrive early to complete testing and self-quarantine.

What will orientation look like?

During your quarantine period, we’ll have activities and events for you to join remotely – to orient you to your new city, introduce you to DIS people and resources, connect with one another, and care for your wellbeing during this period. Get ready for virtual hygge and mysig, drag bingo, yoga, language lessons, and more! And as soon as you’re out of quarantine, we’ll have plans for you to get out and explore your new city. 

Should I talk to my doctor about traveling during COVID-19?

Yes. If you have underlying health conditions that might put you at higher risk for infection or serious complications of COVID-19, talk with your doctor to decide if travel is advisable at this time and, if it is, how to manage your health abroad. Consult your healthcare providers to ensure you can bring any medication you’ll need, and to address any health concerns. Be sure you are up to date on all routine vaccines including the seasonal flu shot.

If you have any questions about health support or accommodations available at DIS, please reach out to us!

If you are a DIS Copenhagen student, read more about preparing for your health abroad here.

If you are a DIS Stockholm student, read more about preparing for your health abroad here.

Will classes occur in person?

At DIS Copenhagen, the semester will look a bit different. Danish authorities announced a requirement that all higher education move to online instruction until January 17th as part of the efforts to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in Denmark, and we expect this requirement to be extended through February 28, 2021. 

Therefore, DIS Copenhagen classes have been re-designed to include online instruction coupled with robust experiential learning opportunities including individual or small group projects and field studies using the city as your classroom, and other out-of-class academic enrichment. Imagine walking around the city with your Copenhagen History professor in your earbuds, pointing out historic sites, sitting in The King’s Garden for your psychology class with classmates zooming in from all over the city, together observing cultural differences in gender norms (how many dads do you see pushing baby carriages?), collecting information about consumer behavior in different locations for your Behavioral Economics class, or opening a package from your Sustainable Food professor so that you can taste, touch, and eat new local foods with your other classmates online. 

As soon as the restriction is lifted, DIS Copenhagen will immediately move to in-person instruction for the remainder of the semester. Further details were shared with all enrolled students via email on Friday, December 11th. Please contact dis@umn.edu with any questions.

At DIS Stockholm, we are still planning for an in-person semester, with classes ready to move to a remote learning format, for any or all students, should it be necessary as a result of local public health guidance, exposure requiring self-isolation, or COVID-19 illness. If, due to local public health guidance, we determine that we will be unable to start the semester in person as planned, we will contact all enrolled students and their home universities as soon as possible.

Will the DIS semester look different due to COVID-19?

Yes. It is too early to know precisely how the months ahead will unfold, in Scandinavia or in the U.S., but here are a few things we do know will be different:

  • Due to European border policies changing frequently, and in order to minimize the spread of COVID-19 as well as exposure for our students and our communities, all Spring Semester 2021 Study Tours will take place only in Denmark (for DIS Copenhagen) or Sweden (for DIS Stockholm), and independent international travel will also be prohibited. See more under “Can I travel outside Denmark or Sweden during my semester?” below.
  • We plan to offer academically integrated, faculty-led Study Tours – a 2-3 day Core Course Week Study Tour and a week-long Program Study Tour, but we’re doing it all without leaving the country. AND we are adding an in-country DIScovery Trip for all students, at no cost, with academic, social, and cultural components. For DIS Copenhagen students, these tours will all take place after February 28th.
  • Since you may be staying closer to your new home than you may have planned, we are doubling the Food Stipend (typically ~$600, now ~$1200) for non-Homestay students, and offering a Food Stipend to Homestay students in the amount of ~$600 per student. To further support you in having rich experiences here in Denmark or Sweden at low or no cost, each student will also be able to choose one of several different cultural and wellness packages; details to come.
  • DIS Copenhagen will begin the semester with online instruction (see above) and DIS Stockholm will be fully in person, with courses ready to move to remote learning for any period, due to COVID illness or exposure. Please know that DIS has no plans to offer a fully remote semester and we are committed to running a small semester.  

Given the quickly changing situation in relation to COVID-19, we will continue to make the necessary modifications across the student experience and will keep you updated via email and here.

Will students be offered single rooms?

DIS housing has been de-densified based on local social distancing requirements. No student will share a bedroom with more than one other DIS student, and we will limit the number of students who can gather together in common areas (kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc). Our Housing team will do their very best to accommodate students who requested a single room in their housing application, and will do so based on several factors with a priority for students with health conditions that make them at increased risk for COVID-19, as well as disability accommodations and home university policy.

Students will be notified of housing placements 10 days before Arrival Day, via email. Keep an eye on your inbox! In the meantime, please contact us via email (dis@umn.edu) with any questions related to your housing application.

What does life in Copenhagen and Stockholm look like right now?

Denmark’s early and austere response to COVID-19 in the spring allowed the country to re-open most of society in the summer and fall. Following a rise in COVID-19 cases in the fall, Denmark’s Prime Minister announced several new restrictions (including a broader mask mandate, limited opening hours for restaurants/cafés, and a limit on large social gatherings) through the end of February.

In December, the PM announced further temporary restrictions – all expiring January 17th – to limit the spread of COVID-19 among young people. These include closing all restaurants/bars/cafés, gyms, museums and other cultural attractions, schools and non-essential retail stores, and moving all university classes online until January 17th. The latest restrictions are due to concerns about the more contagious British variant. We are hopeful that some of these restrictions to be lifted in January as planned, but the online coursework requirement for higher education is very likely to be extended, so we are planning to begin the DIS Copenhagen semester with online instruction (see above).

In Sweden, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced new restrictions and recommendations in November focused on decreasing crowding (including urging people to work from home if possible and to decrease socializing in large groups and with those outside your household). The curve flattened somewhat but new daily cases continue to rise; the government cites lower compliance with public health recommendations than was exercised in the spring/summer.

Please read more about Scandinavia’s response to COVID-19 here.

Social Life

Despite restrictions and recommendations limiting some social gatherings and venues, local students – including at our Kollegiums and Studentboendes – are still getting together to cook small group dinners, take walks with a to-go coffee or hot chocolate, or play soccer in the parks.

Many DIS Copenhagen students have asked how they’ll have a social life and meet people in the beginning of the semester while classeare held online. Please know that our Housing & Student Life team is working on new ways for students to interact and engage, get to know one another, explore the city, and build community, even with the current restrictions. We have lots of ideas to share with you about how to build a rich social life within these guidelines. More to come at our January orientation! 

Certain events and activities may be on hold during your semester, but we think you’ll find life in Scandinavia looking much like a typical semester. You can count on even more details, resources, and recommendations for connecting with local community groups, teams, and clubs, after your arrival.

Mask-Wearing

In Denmark, mask-wearing has become commonplace; masks are required in all indoor public places. Sweden has not mandated the use of masks, but some people choose to wear them, particularly on public transportation. As in the U.S., some locals wear a mask at all times in public, while others wear them only when required.

For local news coverage of COVID-19 in Scandinavia, check out these English language news sites:

Can I travel outside of Denmark or Sweden during my semester?

No. DIS has decided that travel outside of Denmark (DIS Copenhagen students) or Sweden (DIS Stockholm students) is not allowed, as travel is known to contribute to spreading the virus and increasing exposure risk for you, other students, and your host community. Use your time abroad to connect with your local community and immerse yourself in your new home city.

Why? Today, as a result of the ban on U.S. tourists in the E.U., most students won’t be able to travel to other European countries anyway. Even if the E.U. travel ban for U.S. citizens is lifted, DIS does not plan to change our policy against international travel during the semester, because individual countries throughout Europe also have border policies changing frequently about which nationalities can/cannot enter, and who needs to quarantine upon arrival. The DIS policy will prevent you from getting stuck elsewhere in Europe where DIS would be unable to support you through a quarantine or illness and will avoid any need to quarantine during DIS class weeks as a result of European travel.

DIS also does not support international travel before or after your time at DIS. Should the COVID-19 situation and European travel regulations change during your semester and you choose to travel after your DIS semester, you do so without the support of DIS.

Can I have visitors from the U.S. during the semester?

No. Tourists from outside the E.U. are not currently allowed to enter most European countries, so do not plan to have family or friends visit you while abroad. Please know that in case of emergency (e.g. serious illness resulting from COVID-19), immediate family members can legally enter Denmark to be with you.

What will be required of me to be successful abroad during COVID-19?

Flexibility: As in the States, conditions and recommendations are constantly changing as the public health community and leaders learn more about COVID-19. Just like on your home campus, DIS will need to respond by adjusting recommended protocols, class schedules, field study or study tour destinations, etc, sometimes with very little notice. Please prepare to be flexible. At some point in the semester, you may need to stay home for a period of time as a result of illness, exposure, or a community lockdown; DIS is prepared to support you through any of these scenarios.

Respect: You will find Scandinavian approaches to COVID-19 are different from those in the U.S. Take the opportunity to learn and ask questions while remembering to approach your local community with grace and respect.

Compliance: Any measures implemented to protect you and the community from COVID-19 are only effective if they are followed by everyone. Laws and guidelines regarding social distancing and other practices may be updated at any time – and whether or not you assess them to be effective in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, DIS will require all students to comply with all local guidance. This may include monitoring temperatures, hand washing, wearing masks, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and cooperation with recommended COVID-19 testing and contract tracing processes. Failure to comply with these rules and precautions is a violation of the DIS Code of Student Responsibility – but more importantly, we ask students to comply for the benefit of the community, even when no one is watching.

What if I, or someone else at DIS, tests positive for COVID-19?

Any student who tests positive for COVID-19 or has been identified as a ‘close contact’ based on local public health guidance, will be fully supported through testing and isolation, including academic support and continuation of coursework from a distance. If students become ill, DIS will help with seeking medical treatment; testing and medical care will be reimbursed through DIS insurance per the policy details.

If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available while I’m abroad, can I receive one in Denmark or Sweden?

Maybe. Like the U.S., Denmark and Sweden are still determining how and when vaccines will be distributed to various segments of the population. If a vaccine becomes available in Denmark or Sweden for your demographic group (e.g. based on risk category), vaccination would be covered by your insurance through DIS. Though a lot can change, current projections do not include general population vaccinations in either country before the summer.

When will DIS make a decision about whether Spring Semester 2021 is going to run?

DIS is still planning for a pandemic-resilient Spring Semester 2021 in Scandinavia. We will not cancel the semester due to low enrollment, only if local conditions or border policies prevent us from welcoming students to Scandinavia.

Our Executive Team and staff across the organization are working diligently to prepare to welcome students in January for the Spring Semester 2021. We will update this page and notify enrolled students of any changes we need to make as we continue adjusting to the changing conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We will do all we can to hold a spring semester that looks as ‘normal’ as possible. Bookmark this page to check back here anytime or contact us with any questions.