COVID-19 FAQs for Spring 2021

DIS COVID-19 FAQs for Spring 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.

Can U.S. students enter Denmark and Sweden?

Yes! DIS has confirmation from both Danish and Swedish authorities that students ARE allowed to enter both countries for the purpose of study at DIS. While current border closures remain in place limiting tourism in the E.U., many European countries, including Denmark and Sweden, have an exemption for students. 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.

What if I need a new or renewed passport?

Apply now! All students will need a passport valid at least 6 months beyond the end of your DIS semester. U.S. citizens needing a passport should visit the U.S. Department of State website to learn about current procedures and start your application. We strongly encourage you to opt for expedited processing (4-6 weeks) rather than regular processing (10-12 weeks).

Will classes occur in-person?

Yes. Universities and schools in Denmark and Sweden are open, and we are planning for all DIS courses to be held in person with appropriate social distancing and sanitation protocols in place. 

However, your classes will be ready to move to an online/distance format should that be necessary as a result of local public health guidance, exposure requiring self-isolation, or COVID-19 illness.

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.
  • You will still have academically integrated, faculty-led Study Tours – a 2-3 day Core Course Week Study Tour early in the semester, followed by a week-long Program Study Tour later into the semester, 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.
  • 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, DIS will offer several different cultural and wellness offerings; details to come.
  • All courses will be ready to move to remote learning in case any student(s) need to continue their coursework online for any period of time due to COVID illness or exposure. In order to make this guarantee, we unfortunately have had to cancel a very small number of highly experiential courses that are incompatible with remote learning. Please know that DIS has no plans to offer a fully remote semester; we are committed to running courses with low enrollment, and we are committed to running a small semester. If one of your courses is among the few that we’ve had to cancel, rest assured you’ll hear from our Enrollment Management team to discuss alternatives.

Given the quickly changing situation in relation to COVID-19, we will continue to make the necessary modifications across the student experienceand 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). Students can request a single room in their housing application, and requests will be considered 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.

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

Denmark has been able to re-open most of society due to their early and austere response to COVID-19 in the spring. Due to Danish people’s overall high trust in government, the country benefited from a high level of compliance with government-imposed restrictions and guidelines enacted to limit the spread of the virus in Denmark and Europe. 

Sweden did not shut down society and aimed to maintain manageable levels of the virus instead of eliminating it entirely. Therefore, Sweden has not experienced the ups and downs of shutdowns followed by re-opening. The number of cases has fallen dramatically since the spring, and cases per capita are now among the lowest in Europe. 

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

Restaurant, Nightlife, and Events

Today in Copenhagen and Stockholmbusinesses including restaurants and shops are also open, but with somewhat reduced capacities, modified hours, additional cleaning protocols, and some new regulations.  

Events and activities are happening, and local students – including at our Kollegiums and Studentboendes – are getting together for yoga classes and happy hours, flea markets and soccer in the parks. 

Certain events, gatherings, or 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 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, including DIS facilities. 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: 

The Local (Denmark)

The Local (Sweden)

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. 

Does DIS have any recommendations for arranging travel to Scandinavia? 

We recommend you arrange for direct flights from the U.S. to Copenhagen or Stockholm, in order to minimize exposure and limit risks of the possibility of being denied boarding. Please be aware that your flight should arrive between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. local time on Arrival DayJanuary 16, 2021. 

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 dayMay 15, 2021. 

We recommend you purchase your flight directly through your airline of choice because it will allow you to work directly with the airline in case of any necessary changes. As you explore flight options, please take time to review ticket change fees and policies, as well as 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.

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

Maybe; check back here closer to your semester start. DIS will also communicate important updates via email to registered students.

Currently, testing is required upon arrival and is widely available. Travelers must self-isolate between testing upon arrival and receiving results; currently, quarantine length is between 2-14 days. If self-isolation is required when you arrive, DIS will provide housing and support during this period. 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. 

Since COVID-19 is more prevalent in the U.S. than in Europe, 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. 

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. American tourists 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. any serious illness or injury including those related to 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 U.S., 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?

DIS will support students in receiving the necessary testing and medical care, which is reimbursed through DIS insurance per the policy details, as well as academic support.

Any student who has been potentially exposed to a sick individual will be supported through the necessary testing and self-quarantine protocols including continuation of coursework from a distance. Sick or self-quarantined individuals will be isolated away from other students, and facilities will be sanitized per local public health standards.

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

DIS will offer a pandemic-resilient Spring Semester 2021 in Scandinavia. We will not cancel the semester due to low enrollment, and we do not have a go/no-go date. We will only cancel if local conditions change so dramatically in Scandinavia that we are unable to welcome students in January – and we see this as unlikely.

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.