COVID-19 Updates and FAQs

FAQs for Study Abroad and COVID-19

Spring 2021

We continue to monitor our study abroad programs worldwide and are proceeding with our typical application cycle. Should it begin to appear that contingencies are needed for Spring 2021, we will put them in place and monitor our partners’ plans and be in communication with students and their families as new information is available.

This page will be updated as new information is available.

Questions can be directed to or (509) 313-3549.  Our office is open Monday - Friday 8am - 5pm.

Gonzaga in Florence FAQs

  • The GIF 2020-2021 Academic Calendar is updated, and a summary of the changes are:
    • February 1st-February 11th: classes take place remotely asynchronously
    • February 12th: students depart the U.S. to Italy
    • February 13th: students arrive to Florence, Italy*
    • February 15th: classes continue in Florence**
    • May 3rd-6th: final exams
    • May 7th: last day of the GIF Spring 2021 program; students must vacate program housing by 12pm noon
    • May 12th: students must return to the U.S.

*See question: “Should we purchase a flight now that the program dates are set?”

**Currently, the Italian government requires those arriving to Italy to quarantine for 14 days. This requirement will be in place until October 7th, 2020 and may be extended. Further information surrounding the requirement to quarantine and academic continuance will be updated as the Italian authorities release details and information in October

Students will have until December 1st, 2020 to withdraw from GIF to receive a full refund of the $50 application fee and $500 program deposit.


Currently (October 1st, 2020), many European countries including Italy are allowing both European Union (EU) and non-EU citizens to legally enter for the purpose of study. GIF is in contact with local authorities and will continue to assess immigration policies in the months ahead.

We will provide an official acceptance letter for the program and updated guidance on entry into Italy prior to departure.  Currently, Italian government requires those entering Italy to complete an authorization form, and we anticipate that students will need to provide evidence upon arriving to the Italian border of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours of beginning travel. More information will be provided by the Study Abroad Office.

  • The delays and difficulties of the passport and study visa application processes do not permit scheduling a full program.
  • Students will be attending the program on a virtual tourist visa. It is required for U.S. citizens on the virtual visa to have a U.S. passport valid six (6) months beyond the end of the program. In addition, both outbound and return flights to the United States must be direct between the United States and Italy.
  • On a virtual tourist visa, 90 days are allowed in the Schengen zone*. Eighty-four of those days will be for the GIF program, leaving students up to 5 days for personal travel, if permissible at that time, within the Schengen zone at the end of the program. Students should not plan on arriving in the Schengen Zone prior to the official program arrival date (February 13th). Travel outside the Schengen area does not contribute to the 90 days allowed within.
  • Parents and families may travel with their student at the end of the program, if permissible within governmental restrictions at that time.
  • For students who hold a passport for a country other than the United States, please contact Erin Schultheis, GIF Study Abroad Advisor, at

*As of October 1st, 2020 the Schengen zone countries include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.


We recommend students stay in Florence for the duration of the program or limit their travel to within Italy due to the high risk of changing travel restrictions, public health requirements and financial implications of such impacts.

Travel is a long-standing and important component of the GIF semester but is also known to spread the virus and increase exposure risk for students and local communities. In addition to the health risks undertaken with travel, planning travel is a financial risk due to Schengen zone rules surrounding entry and re-entry changing with very little notice.

Student personal travel and GIF travel learning trips may be limited or adjusted based on conditions in Italy, and conditions of countries around Europe. The GIF Spring 2021 term will provide excellent opportunities to connect with Florence and engage with the local community. Along with daytrips to local and regional attractions, we will also offer cultural immersion activities (volunteer, service learning, internships) in Florence, as allowed by current conditions and regulations.


No, the virtual tourist visa is valid for 90 days within a 180-day period. Once students spend 90 days in the Schengen zone, they must be outside it for 90 more days before they can legally re-enter.


No, we do not recommend purchasing any airfare at this time. We are working to determine the best arrival airport in Italy, in addition to exploring options for a suggested itinerary and other resources. We will provide guidance by December 1st regarding when airfare should be booked.


Yes, program costs will be reduced. The opening tour cost will be eliminated, as there will be no opening tour. The fitness facility fee will also be eliminated. The costs will be updated here (navigate to the Costs & Finances tab) as soon as they are available.


GIF continues to evaluate housing options with an aim to lower room capacities for increased distancing. More information about housing accommodations for the duration of the program are forthcoming.

  • All positive cases of COVID-19 will be verified by the regional health authority of Tuscany.
    • A doctor will be assigned to the case by the regional health authority.
    • If deemed necessary by the doctor, per Italian regulations, the person who tests positive will be moved to a local health facility or hospital for further monitoring and care, otherwise the student will remain in isolation in the pensione.
    • The regional health authority of Tuscany has pledged that COVID-19 care is free of charge, just as it is for a citizen of Italy.
  • GIF will assist any student who tests positive for COVID-19 and needs to isolate, is staying in a local accommodation facility, or needs to learn remotely (e.g. due to quarantine) for a period during the semester. GIF is meeting with the regional health authority of Tuscany for further guidance regarding isolation and quarantine.
  • We continue to develop plans for academic, physical, and emotional student care.
  • All students are registered for international insurance coverage for the length of their study abroad program. In this case, students will be covered for the 89 days they are abroad.
  • Travelers who become sick with COVID-19 have medical coverage available. CISI’s medical provisions under the policy are unchanged so all of the various medical and travel benefits that were present in CISI policies continue to be available.

We are creating contingency plans in the event Italy experiences a spike in cases.

Plans could include increased social distancing measures, self-isolating, restrictions to in-person interactions, move to remote learning, or even return to the U.S. The health and safety of students is our priority.


Gonzaga University will make a final determination on the status of GIF Spring 2021 no later than December 1st, 2020. Details will be communicated to students and families. As this is an ever-evolving situation, circumstances are subject to change even after the decision date. GU administrators are in frequent communication with GIF staff and are actively preparing contingency plans.

Gonzaga is monitoring health guidance from the State Department, Centers for Disease Control, and from relevant foreign governments in order to make the best decisions possible.


If the semester is cancelled prior to its start, all program fees will be credited to the student account.

If students must be sent home mid-term, courses will be moved to remote learning, and no tuition will be refunded. Room and board costs will be prorated and credited to the student account.

 Students from Partner Institutions: the student’s home Study Abroad office will be provided the credits for disbursement.


The Study Abroad Office is working with Housing & Residence Life to provide on campus living opportunities for GIF students in case GIF is cancelled.


Gonzaga students: Yes. As a contingency, GIF students will enroll in Main campus classes during their normal registration window in November. Once the GIF Spring 2021 program is given the final approval to operate, students will be dropped from their Main campus classes and enrolled in Gonzaga in Florence classes for Spring 2021. GIF and Main campus registrations occur in Zagweb, so it is unfortunately not possible to register simultaneously for both campuses.

Students from Partner Institutions: Students from partner institutions will register for GIF courses on Zagweb in November. Students should follow up with their home institutions about contingency plans, such as also registering for Spring 2021 courses on their home campus.


Gonzaga students’ initial bills will reflect the expenses of taking courses on Main campus in Spokane. Once Gonzaga students are enrolled in classes for Florence, their bill will be modified to reflect the billable fees for Florence.

 If you have questions, please contact Student Accounts at or (509) 313-6812.


General FAQs

The date a student can withdraw from a Spring 2021 program will vary by the specific program.

  • For GIF, see answer in GIF section.
  • For all other programs, please contact your study abroad advisor directly or email to confirm the withdrawal and refund policy for your specific program.

At this time, we strongly recommend not purchasing airfare until instructed to do so by the Study Abroad Office. Program dates for all programs are subject to change.


The Study Abroad Office continues to remain in frequent contact with all our study abroad partners and institutions about the status of the on-site programs.  As new information and updates are available, they will be shared with participants. Circumstances on-site at our study abroad locations may dictate cancelling a program by the host institution or Gonzaga. 


Although we hope to offer study abroad experiences this Spring 2021, the reality is that to offer those programs, our partner institutions may have to make necessary modifications due to COVID-19.


Please consult your healthcare provider to ensure you can bring any medication you’ll need, and to address any health concerns. 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. Be sure you are up to date on all routine vaccines including the seasonal flu shot.


Flexibility: As in the United States, conditions and recommendations abroad are constantly changing as the public health community and leaders learn more about COVID-19. Just like on Main campus in Spokane, GIF and our partner institutions will need to respond by adjusting recommended protocols, class schedules, field study or activities, etc., sometimes with very little notice. Please prepare to be flexible. At some point in the semester, you may need to isolate for a period of time as a result of illness, exposure, or a community lockdown.

Respect: As a Jesuit institution, we must live out our values of mutual respect and support for one another. Taking steps to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection (or any other spread of disease) is a shared responsibility. You will find your host country’s approaches to COVID-19 may be 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 GIF and our partner organizations abroad 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 contact tracing processes. Failure to comply with these rules and precautions could be a violation of Gonzaga’s or the program’s Code of Student Responsibility or Conduct. We ask students to comply for the benefit of the community, even when no one is watching.