Carpe Diem Education: Updates on our COVID-19 Response

Due to ongoing uncertainties regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, Carpe Diem Education announced the closure of all Fall 2020 international programs on July 20th, 2020. 

We are still moving forward with our domestic Borderlands program, and have limited space available. The program will focus on Border Studies and Climate Resilience in Desert Communities. We are excited to offer a U.S. based program that addresses many social and environmental issues happening right here at home.

Refund Policy for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Students

We know that many students and families are looking for engaging, educational alternatives to virtual/online learning, and we look forward to working with you! In an effort to support families in the process of determining Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 plans, we have modified our refund policy so that you have less stress in regard to timelines and financial commitments. 

Students who are enrolled in a Spring 2021 Carpe Diem program have until December 1st to cancel their enrollment for any reason and receive a full refund (minus the application fee). 

For Fall 2020 Students: In the event that Carpe Diem should choose to cancel the Semester in the Borderlands due to changing COVID-19 conditions after August 15th and before October 7th, we will provide all students with a full tuition refund minus $500.00 and the application fee. The $500.00 we retain will be used to honor our commitments to our local program partners/hosts and our educators. 

Students will also be offered the opportunity to transfer all payments to a Spring 2021 Carpe Diem program. 

Please contact us directly if you have any questions about this policy.

Considerations for International Programs

As we turn our minds to Spring 2021, there will be many factors that will determine our decisions for international programs. We are consulting numerous sources in our decision-making process, such as the CDC, WHO, Overseas Advisory Council (OSAC), the U.S. State Department, our internal risk management team, fellow industry professionals, and the trusted advice of global health experts. We are in active communication with regional and local partners in determining the viability of hosting student groups in an ethical and responsible way. The health and well-being of students, local partners, Carpe Diem staff, and larger host communities will be a primary concern in our ongoing evaluations. Our decisions for offering international programs will be based on:
  • Travel Advisories and status of international borders: The U.S State Department recently lifted the Level 4 Travel Advisory. The State Department continues to recommend increased caution when traveling abroad and we will continue to monitor country specific conditions and the status of international borders as we evaluate our ability to offer our Spring 2021 programs.
  • National/regional pandemic status: we will be assessing the status of the pandemic specific to the countries/regions that our programs visit. Specific considerations include:
    • Current COVID-19 numbers in the region
    • Social distancing, mask, curfew, restricted movement, etc.
      • Carpe Diem Education programs are immersive experiences that involve a high level of in-person interaction and engagement. In the case that the pandemic is still present to the extent that strict social distancing policies are in place, or freedom of movement is restricted, we will reconsider running programs in that region.
    • Status of medical infrastructure: if local medical facilities and personnel are stressed/overburdened, they may not have the resources or ability to respond to a medical emergency. Traveling in such a region would be irresponsible both to locals as well as to our students and leaders.
  • Partner community needs: There may be cases in which international borders are open, though local communities are not comfortable hosting travelers/groups. In these cases, we trust that local people know what is best for their community and will not travel to those communities.
  • Comprehensive Risk Management: all of the above factors are part of a larger, ongoing risk management assessment. There are many other factors that Carpe Diem Education will be considering, and the situation will remain fluid for the foreseeable future.
    • In order to best support our leaders, students, and local partners, we have developed in-field protocols specific to COVID-19. You can find an abbreviated version here. These will be updated regularly to reflect the most up-to-date “best practices” related to the pandemic.
All of this said, we are cautiously optimistic that conditions will improve and that we will be able to offer international programs in the Spring. There is a massive global investment in developing a vaccine; medical therapies are improving; social distancing measures are being implemented on a larger scale; and some countries are already beginning to slowly lift international travel bans.

Spring 2021 Itineraries: Works in Progress

Currently, Carpe Diem Education is offering our traditional 3 month semester programs. As we move into Fall, and the outlook for Spring programs becomes clearer, we may need to make adjustments in order to mitigate travel risks associated with the pandemic. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Adopting single-country itineraries: this may be done to decrease scrutiny at international borders, reduce possible transmission in less developed regions, simplify logistics in case of COVID-related evacuation, in response to a border closure, etc.
  • Moving departure dates back: this may be done to allow more time for risk assessments, in response to a delayed border opening, in case of active distribution of a vaccine (allowing time for students to receive vaccine), flight schedules/restrictions, etc. 
  • Reducing time in the field: we may choose to offer shorter programs (2 months) if we cannot travel to all countries on an itinerary, are unable to work with some of our in-country partners, feel this timeline best meets the needs of stakeholders (students, families, local partners, HQ staff), etc. 

Students/families will be notified immediately if any of these changes are made.

Latitudes Year Program: Summer 2021

We are offering Spring 2021 students the opportunity to engage in our Latitudes Year program for the Summer of 2021. The Latitudes Year program combines a group travel semester and an individual volunteer placement and allows for the best of both worlds: a semester spent with like-minded students traveling, learning, and growing together followed by a more self-directed, independent semester.


How has Carpe Diem been monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic?


We are actively monitoring reports from the CDC, the WHO, the US Department of State, the  Overseas Advisory Council, and our program partners on the ground in the regions where we work. We are also encouraging all students and parents to do their own research and obtain information from reliable sources such as the CDC and the WHO.

This link provides real-time updates regarding the spread of the coronavirus throughout the world. Additionally, the US Department of State has issued a Global Health Advisory and has recommended that all U.S citizens avoid international travel due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

We acknowledge this advisory and agree that it is not safe or socially responsible to travel internationally right now. We also acknowledge that this situation is ever-changing and we are hopeful that over the next several months the world will have a much better understanding of COVID-19, and all communities will have access to either an effective vaccine, inexpensive and effective medical treatment, or other means of mitigating the risks of transmitting the virus.

No one knows when the outbreak will begin to slow but we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to offer our Borderlands semester program this fall and resume our international programming during the Spring 2021 semester. Over the next few months, the Carpe Diem HQ team will continue keeping a close eye on the sources mentioned above and will continue to proactively communicate with all of our enrolled students and parents.

What happens if I sign up for a Fall 2020 program now and I decide later that I’m not comfortable traveling, or the program is canceled?


We recognize that taking a gap year is a significant investment of time and money and we want to do as much as possible to support you in joining us. Please contact us directly if you have any questions about payments or refunds. Our current refund policy is below: 

  1. All deposits made after August 15th are non-refundable, and will be applied to our financial commitments to local partners, group leaders, and administrative cost.
  2. After August 26th, program tuition will be due within 24 hours of acceptance to the program.

If at any time between August 15th and October 7th (program start date) Carpe Diem determines that we are not able to run the US Borderlands program this fall, we will provide all students with a full refund of any tuition paid minus $500.00 and the application fee. 

In the event of a cancellation by Carpe Diem, students will also be offered the opportunity to transfer all payments to a Spring 2021 Carpe Diem program.

What happens if I sign up for a Spring 2021 program and I change my mind or the program is canceled?


All Spring 2021 students have until December 1st to cancel their enrollment for any reason and receive a full refund (minus the application fee). There is no risk to you to enroll in a program now and cancel before December 1st, 2020.

Where can I find more information about Carpe Diem’s response to COVID-19?


Our team is always happy to connect with you to discuss any of your questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 and the impact on our programming. Please call our office (503-285-1800) or send us an email ( anytime and we will respond as soon as possible.