COVID-19 FAQs for Fall 2021 Students

DIS COVID FAQs for Fall 2021

Last update: April 28, 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 and contact us at DIS@DISabroad.org or 800-247-3477 if you would like to know more. We will continue updating this page as conditions change and will also notify applying and admitted students of significant updates via email.

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DIS Planning for Fall Semester 2021

DIS is planning for a pandemic-resilient Fall Semester 2021 in Scandinavia. We do not have a go/no-go date; we will not cancel our program due to low enrollment, only in the event that local restrictions 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 and make your time abroad as ‘normal’ as possible. We will update this page and notify students of any modifications we need to make as we continue adjusting to the changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Will classes occur in person?

We are planning for an in-person Fall Semester 2021 in both Copenhagen and Stockholm, 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.

Will Fall Semester 2021 at DIS look different due to COVID-19?

Maybe. At this point we are planning for a mostly ‘normal’ semester, based on the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. and Scandinavia. But we are not naïve. It is too early to know precisely how the months ahead will unfold, given the uncertainties of a pandemic, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • To offer you peace of mind, DIS has a flexible cancellation policy for Fall Semester 2021 so you can cancel at any time before Arrival Day with no financial penalty – we’ll refund all tuition and fees paid to DIS – including your deposit.
  • We comply with all local regulations and public health guidance related to social distancing, mask wearing, sanitizing, etc. and will continue the surveillance testing program we’ve developed and implemented this year.
  • DIS housing will remain de-densified; requests for single rooms or for specific roommates will be accommodated based on COVID-19 realities as well as student health needs and home university policies, and we will continue to limit gatherings in common spaces according to local guidelines.

Any further modifications will be based on COVID-19 developments in Scandinavia and across Europe in the coming months. We will continue to make the necessary modifications and will keep you updated via email and here.

Life in Copenhagen and Stockholm Today

Denmark and Sweden have taken very different approaches to the pandemic, but they have several things in common: a high degree of compliance with local restrictions; strong trust in authorities implementing restrictions based on science and the advice of public health experts; robust and accessible health care systems; and comprehensive vaccination plans aiming for all citizens to be vaccinated by the end of the summer.

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

What does student social life look like today?

Despite some restrictions and recommendations limiting social gatherings and venues, local students are still getting together to cook small group dinners, take walks with a coffee or hot chocolate, or play soccer in the parks. After a partial lockdown this winter, Denmark has re-opened museums, galleries, schools, shops, restaurants/cafés and cultural attractions; Sweden has remained largely open since the pandemic beganOur current students are exploring the city, visiting museums and cafés, going on hikes, taking selfies at the Little Mermaid or Gamla Stan, walking and biking cobblestoned streets to see castles and find their favorite wienerbrød or kanelbullar. Follow their adventures on the DIS Student Blogs for Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Certain events and activities may be on hold, but life in Copenhagen and Stockholm continues with much to experience. You can count on more details, resources, and recommendations for connecting with local communities closer to your arrival.

Do people wear masks?

Mask-wearing has become commonplace in Denmark, with masks required in all indoor public places. Sweden has not mandated the use of masks, but recommends them on public transportation and indoor setting where distance cannot be maintained. As in the U.S., some locals always wear a mask in public, while others do so only when required.

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

What about vaccination?

Denmark and Sweden plan to offer vaccination to all adults by July/August 2021, and the high level of trust in health authorities means that well over 90% of the population wishes to be vaccinated. In the meantime, the E.U. and its member states (including Denmark and Sweden) are highly motivated to establish guidelines for travelers who have been vaccinated or can show a recent negative COVID test (or positive test 2-12 weeks old). Within Denmark, these categories (vaccination or a recent negative test or a positive test 2-12 weeks old) constitute a ‘corona passport’ that is currently required for access to most establishments including museums, libraries, and restaurants across the country.

At this point, students entering Denmark are required to test and quarantine whether or not they are vaccinated. Recent lifting of quarantine requirements for vaccinated EU travelers may be a sign of reduced quarantine restrictions for vaccinated non-EU travelers in the weeks and months ahead, but we cannot predict whether or when the exisiting restrictions might change.

Neither Denmark nor Sweden has signaled plans to require COVID-19 vaccination for entry and DIS will not require students to be vaccinated.

Preparing to Travel

Can DIS students enter Denmark and Sweden?

YES. While tourism from the U.S. is banned in much of Europe, some countries including Denmark and Sweden allow exceptions for visiting students. Our current students in Copenhagen and Stockholm entered without incident, traveling with documentation from DIS and local authorities to confirm their student status and show their ‘worthy purpose’ for entering despite the tourist ban.

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, and get your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you are able to!

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?

Given that border policies and airport testing requirements (e.g. in layover cities) may continue shifting in the coming months in response to pandemic and vaccination trends, students not departing for several weeks or months should consider waiting until closer to your Arrival Day to book your flight. Start by exploring flight options and airline cancellation and change policies in order to make a judgement about when feels like the best time for you to book your flight. In your research, take time to also review travel insurance options, and the airline’s protocols on COVID-19.

When you do decide to make travel arrangements, we recommend purchasing your flight directly from your airline of choice or a trusted travel agent because it will allow you to work directly with the airline or your agent in case of any necessary changes.

Book a direct flight if one is available, landing between 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. local time on your Arrival Day; see our Fall Semester calendar for Copenhagen or Stockholm for details. If a direct flight isn’t possible, find a flight plan with as few connections as possible – ideally connecting only in the U.S. (or the country you are departing from). We’ve had students successfully arrive during the pandemic with connecting flights through various U.S. and European cities, but a direct flight is the most secure way to avoid delays or testing/travel requirements at layover airports; minimize exposure; and limit risks of possibly being denied boarding. Check COVID-19 requirements for any connection cities as you’re booking, and check back closer to your departure to be sure you are prepare to meet any testing or other transit requirements.

If you are unable to arrive on your Arrival Day, book a flight that arrives before, not after your Arrival Day. You’ll need to cover your own accommodation and local transportation before your Arrival Day, but we can recommend a hotel and will share detailed guidance with early-arriving students via email before your departure.

Additionally, we strongly urge you to book a round trip flight. Students could be held up by gate agents or border control if you cannot show confirmed plans to depart Denmark/Sweden. Please keep in mind you must be checked out of your housing by 12:00 p.m. on your Last Day of Housing (see our Copenhagen or Stockholm calendar for details).

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

Maybe. As of April 2021, all travelers arriving in Copenhagen or Stockholm must present a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival. We do not know yet how (or whether) vaccination status will impact entry requirements, and will notify all students of relevant requirements and recommendations in the weeks leading up to your departure.

In any case, even if you are vaccinated, please plan to be extra cautious in the 14 days leading up to your departure for DIS – avoid socializing, working outside your home, and any personal travel during this period.

Questions about pre-departure testing or quarantine? Contact HealthAccommodation@DISabroad.org.

After Arrival in Scandinavia

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

Maybe. As of April, arriving students are tested upon arrival and enter an approximately 5 day quarantine. If a quarantine is required for your arrival, it will be at no cost to the student and fully supported by DIS, including housing, food, and virtual programming.

Our plan for your arrival will be based on local conditions, requirements and recommendations closer to your departure, and we will provide updates here, via email, and at your pre-departure orientation. Arrival COVID-19 testing, if necessary, 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?

Your first days in Scandinavia will be busy with activities and events to help you get to know your new city, introduce you to DIS people and resources, connect with one another, and care for your wellbeing during this period. Quarantine requirements might mean you’ll need to do some of that remotely (get ready for virtual hygge and mys, drag bingo, yoga, language lessons!) but rest assured we’ll also have plenty of opportunities for you to get out and explore the city as soon as you are able. We will provide more detail closer to your departure.

Can I travel outside of Denmark or Sweden during the Fall Semester?

We hope so. As of April 2021, border restrictions prevent most travel within Europe, but if vaccinations keep pace and stay ahead of any new variants that emerge in the coming months, we expect that Europe will be much more open by the fall. We are planning to run international Study Tours as conditions allow, and at this point we also plan to allow independent international travel.

Should we need to adjust course and keep you in the country for the semester, please know that our faculty and staff are ready and experienced in running top-notch in-country Study Tours. We’re also ready to share tips and recommendations for you to connect with your local community, immerse yourself in your new home city, and engage deeply in your host culture through in-country travel, if you are unable to travel internationally during the semester as planned.

Can I have visitors from the U.S. while I’m at DIS?

Don’t plan on it, yet. Tourists from outside the E.U. are not currently allowed to enter most European countries, so do not plan at this point to have family or friends visit you while abroad. Please know that in case of emergency (e.g. serious illness), immediate family members can legally enter Denmark or Sweden to be with you.

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.

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 you may need to stay home for a period 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 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, mask wearing, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and cooperation with recommended COVID-19 testing and contact 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.