COVID-19 FAQs for Future DIS Students

DIS COVID FAQs for Fall 2021

Last update: November 24, 2021

DIS is ready to offer you a pandemic-resilient study abroad experience in Scandinavia! We have been running programs abroad throughout the pandemic, so our staff and faculty are prepared to adjust as necessary to the changing conditions that COVID-19 bringsWe ask that you also plan to be flexible, prepare for changing conditions, and bring your own resilience as we work together to create a wonderful experience for you.

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. In case we need to make any modifications to your semester or summer abroad, we will update this page and notify enrolled students via email and at orientation before you depart.

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DIS Planning for Your Pandemic-Resilient Study Abroad

Life in Copenhagen and Stockholm

Preparing to Travel

After Arrival in Scandinavia

DIS Planning for Your Pandemic-Resilient Study Abroad

Will my time at DIS look different due to COVID-19?
Maybe. Life at DIS today looks very close to our pre-COVID-19 ‘normal’, but as we cannot predict how the months ahead will unfold, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Classes are fully in person today (as they have been for the past several months) but we are ready to move to a remote learning format should it be necessary as a result of local public health guidance, exposure requiring self-isolation, or COVID-19 illness. 
  • We follow all local regulations and public health guidance related to social distancing, mask wearing, sanitizing, gathering limits etc. See below for more details on how things look today in Scandinavia. 
  • We are planning for Study Tours to travel across Europe, but ready to move to in-country tours if need dictates. Study Tour destinations will be considered based on several factors including official Danish and Swedish travel recommendations, vaccination rates, and local infrastructure. We will not automatically move or cancel Study Tours due to U.S. State Department and CDC Alert levels though we will consider this information as part of the entire picture; if you have questions, please let us know. 
  • We also plan to allow independent international travel, if allowed by your home university but due to shifting border policies across Europe, please wait until after your arrival in Denmark or Sweden to book any personal travel. Students will be responsible for monitoring the conditions and border policies of their destinations as well asrequirements for re-entry to Denmark/Sweden; assuming the risks associated with independent travel;, and notifying DIS of their travel plans. Read more about Independent Travel here. 
  • For Spring Semester 2022 students only: While we are confident that we will be able to run a full and robust semester, DIS has a flexible cancellation policy 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. 

Any further changes to the semester will be based on COVID-19 developments in Scandinavia and across Europe in the coming months. DIS has been hosting students throughout COVID-19 and has experience with dedensification of housing and classrooms, gathering limits, testing requirements, remotinstructionproof of vaccination/testing policies, masking and social distancing protocols, as well as navigating various border policies across Europe. 

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;
  • high vaccination rates thanks to broad vaccine availability combined with very low vaccine hesitancy;
  • strong trust in authorities implementing restrictions based on science and the advice of public health experts;
  • and robust and accessible health care systems.

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

What does student social life look like today?
Since early spring 2021, Denmark has been progressively re-opening society, carefully watching case counts as the vaccination rates continue to rise.  In October, cases predictably began to rise again as more events and gatherings moved inside due to the colder weatherwhile case counts have continued to climbCOVID-related  fatality rates remain extremely low due to Denmark’s high vaccination rate. In response to the recent increase in case numbers, as of November 12th a “coronapas” (proof of vaccination or a recent negative test) will be required for entry to restaurants, bars, cafés, and larger gatherings across DenmarkAdditional restrictions are possible in the weeks ahead if the curve doesn’t turn around; see the link below for details as they become available.

Sweden has remained largely open since the pandemic beganwhile asking people to maintain distance, avoid crowds, and stay home if sickCiting high vaccination levels and low hospital admissions, the Health Ministry lifted remaining Covid restrictions in late September, including capacity limitations at restaurants and events. As of early November, case numbers remain low and society continues to be very open.

Government and health authorities in both countries are closely watching case numbers and are prepared to re-introduce restrictions or recommendations in response to the expected increase in cases as winter approaches. DIS will follow all local guidance as it is announced; check out these pages published by local public health authorities for any updates:

Denmark’s COVID-19 Rules and Regulations
Sweden’s National Guidelines and Recommendations to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

Our students in Stockholm and Copenhagen are spending long days exploring the city, taking Field Studies to local businesses, cooking dinners together, checking out museums and playing soccer in the parks, enjoying countless espressos and ice creams, 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.

Students can count on more details, resources, and recommendations for connecting with local communities in their online pre-departure course and upon arrival.

What about masks? 
In Denmark, masks are only required at the airport and are advised at test centers and hospitals. Private businesses or institutions can require masking or proof of vaccination, but very few currently do so.
 Sweden does not currently have any recommendations regarding mask wearing. 

Students may choose to wear a mask in any setting, for your own comfort; DIS mask policy will continue to follow local public health guidance. 

What about vaccination?
Though Europe lagged behind the U.S. early in the vaccine rollout, Scandinavia’s robust health care systems and high level of trust in health authorities mean that the majority of the population in Denmark and Sweden were vaccinated by the end of summer 2021. As of November 2021, 76% of the Danish population and 69% of the Swedish population are fully vaccinated, compared to 58here in the U.S. (Source: Our World in Data).
 
Booster shots are being offered to high-risk populations and are expected to be available to a wider population in the coming months. DIS recommends all students receive their full COVID-19 vaccination protocol prior to travel including any available boosters. Check back closer to your departure with questions about if students will be able to receive a booster while abroad.

Preparing to Travel

Today, vaccinated travelers from the U.S. and many other countries can enter Denmark without testing or quarantine. Unvaccinated travelers from the U.S. must test and isolate for approximately 5 days. Use this tool on Denmark’s Coronavirus response page for more specific guidance as your time abroad approaches.

Vaccinated travelers from the U.S. can enter Sweden without testing or quarantine. Unvaccinated travelers should expect additional documentation, testing, and/or quarantine requirements; DIS will provide more information as your departure nears. You can learn more by visiting the Swedish Police Authority website. 

Be mindful of additional testing or transit requirements for your airline or layover countries, and remember that these restrictions may continue to change in the months ahead. You can always check detailed regulations for Denmark or Sweden, and you’ll receive updated guidance from DIS at your Pre-Departure Orientations (e.g. Spring Semester 2022 students had one Mandatory Orientation on November 10 – check your inbox for the recording if you were unable to attend the live session – and will have another Mandatory Orientation on January 12). 

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 (and any available boosters) if you have not already done so!

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?

Start to explore 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. DIS recommends waiting to book your flight until within a few months of your departure for Scandinaviaso that you can book based on the latest information regarding border and transit policies in any potential layover cities.

When the time comes, here are a few other recommendations: 

  • Purchase your flight directly from your airline of choice or a trusted travel agent. This will allow you to work directly with the airline/agent in case of any changes. Past students have had trouble with re-booking or refunds when using a third-party booking site. 
  • Land between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. on your Arrival Day; see our semester calendars for Copenhagen or Stockholm, or our Summer calendar for details. If you are unable to arrive on your 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 will share detailed guidance with early-arriving students via email before your departure. 
  • Opt for as few layovers, in as few countries, and on as few airlines as possible. Check COVID-19 requirements for any connection cities, and check back closer to your departure to be sure you are prepared to meet any testing or other transit requirements. 
  • 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 check out of your housing by 12:00 p.m. on your Last Day of Housing (see calendars linked above for details). 
  • Submit your flight information to DIS in Registration, so we can plan for your arrival! 

After Arrival in Scandinavia

What will arrival and orientation look like?

DIS staff will greet you at the airport on Arrival Day to welcome you to Scandinavia, check you in, answer any questions, and arrange for your transportation to your DIS housing. Your first days 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. We will talk more at your Orientation about what to expect!

Can I travel outside of Denmark or Sweden while at DIS?

Yes. Take a look at “Will my time at DIS look different” above to see what we have in mind for Study Tours and considerations for independent travel. Due to shifting border policies across Europe, please wait until after your arrival in Denmark or Sweden to plan any independent travel.

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

Maybe. Our best advice: hold off on making any plans, and keep an eye on incoming travel restrictions here for Denmark and Sweden.

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 any necessary 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 still changing in relation to 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 may find Scandinavian approaches to COVID-19 different from those at home. 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, 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.