Our COVID-19 Response

Carpe Diem has continued to navigate and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year. We are proud that we have been able to continue offering meaningful in-person programming for our students. 

We are taking proactive measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure for our students, staff, host organizations and host communities. This includes but is not limited to: requiring that all Overseas Educators and HQ staff have been fully vaccinated, requiring all students to be fully vaccinated, a COVID-19 agreement that all of our students and staff sign, and consultation with our on-call medical professional (an MD who manages a COVID unit in California). 

This past spring we ran programs in Hawai’i and Costa Rica, and for Fall 2021 we are offering three programs: Central America (2 groups), Italy & Greece (2 groups), and Hawai’i. You can read more about the student experience on our Spring 2021 programs on the Carpe Diem blog here!

We are currently accepting applications for our Fall 2021 semester and Latitudes Year programs and Spring 2022 semester programs. Read more about these programs here

Throughout the pandemic, Carpe Diem Education has remained committed to providing our students and families with program options that are realistic, thoughtful, well coordinated, and reflective of our high standards for experiential learning, community engagement, and student well-being. We will only run programs that we know will meet these standards, and we appreciate the trust and support of our students and families!

"We would like to commend the Carpe Diem staff for an amazing job done to get our daughter and all of the other students home as the world changed moment by moment. We looked for a long time to find a gap year program we felt really good about. We have no regrets about our choice. Our daughter was thriving in Guatemala and loving every minute of it. We will spread the word."

- Parents of a Spring 2020 student

Plans for Fall 2021 Itineraries

Carpe Diem is currently accepting applications for our Fall 2021 Semesters & Latitudes Year programs. 

We are cautiously optimistic about our ability to offer the following programs for Fall 2021: Central America, Italy & Greece, and Hawai’i. We have closed our other programs due to concerns related to COVID-19, including continued border restrictions. Due to the ongoing pandemic, we may need to make adjustments in order to mitigate continued travel risks. Our goal is to be transparent with students and families as we consider options for the fall. Possible adjustments include, but are not limited to:

  • Adopting single-country itineraries: this may be done to avoid increased chances of mandatory quarantines at international borders, reduce possible transmission in regions of the world where there is currently less access to treatment or vaccination, 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, 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.

Fall 2021 Refund Policy

All Fall 2021 students have until August 1st to cancel their enrollment for any reason and receive a full deposit refund (minus the application fee), transfer their enrollment to a different region, or move to a future semester. We will communicate with all enrolled students and parents as soon as any changes or decisions have been made that impact our programming. If you have any questions, please reach out to us directly anytime.

More details about our Fall 2021 refund policy are below:

  1. All deposits made after August 1st, 2021 are non-refundable. If a student/family cancels after this date, Carpe Diem will retain the $2,000 deposit, which will be applied to our financial commitments to local partners, staff, and administrative costs. Application fees are non-refundable.
  2. In the unlikely event that Carpe Diem determines that we are unable to offer any programming this Fall, we will provide all students with a full refund of any deposit/tuition paid minus $500.00, which will be applied to our financial commitments to local partners, staff, and administrative costs. Application fees are non-refundable
  3. In the event that Carpe Diem cancels a program, students will also be offered the opportunity to transfer all payments to a future Carpe Diem semester.

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.

Fall 2021 Contingency Plans & Closures

We are committed to supporting our Fall 2021 students and their families and have developed a three-tiered approach to our Fall programming options which we have outlined below.

Plan A:

We will run our 3 month international and 10-week domestic programs as planned. 

Many countries throughout the world continue to experience hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many regions where travel still is not advised or even possible. Due to multiple factors, we have closed several of our Fall 2021 programs. For those students whose programs have been closed, we offer the following options:

  • transfer enrollment to another program of your choice
  • transfer enrollment to a future semester
  • cancel your enrollment and issue a full refund (minus the application fee).

Carpe Diem HQ staff will be in touch with all enrolled students and parents on or before July 14th to share our final decision for our international programs. If you have any questions before then, please reach out to us directly anytime. 

Plan B:

In the event that we are not able to offer our 3-month multi-country programs this fall, we are prepared to modify our program itineraries to be limited to one country and to adjust program activities to accommodate for COVID-19 restrictions and best practices. Benefits of an itinerary change like this include reducing the number of border crossings and risk of quarantine, simplified flight patterns to allow for faster evacuation (if needed) and limiting the potential for exposure for our students and host communities. 

If we determine that we are able to offer any of our international programs in this modified way, we will let students and parents know as soon as possible. If students are not interested in the options available, we guarantee a space on one of our domestic programs, transfer their enrollment to a future semester OR provide full refunds (minus the application fee). 

Plan C: 

If we determine we are not able to offer the majority of our international programming, we anticipate that we will be able to run our Hawai'i and Costa Rica programs. We have the capacity for two groups of up to 12 students each for these programs. 

We will work with all students who are enrolled in our international semester programs to offer them a space on one of these programs (pending availability), transfer their enrollment to a future semester OR provide full refunds (minus the application fee).

Latitudes Year Program

Carpe Diem Education will continue to offer our Latitudes Year program for Fall 2021/Spring 2022

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. Locations of volunteer placements may vary depending on international travel considerations.

Considerations for International Programs

Many factors were considered when determining our decisions for Fall 2021 international programs, and these will continue to inform our decisions as we plan for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. 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 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 Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 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.
    • Vaccination statistics within the countries visited.
    • Quarantine requirements, Entry and exit requirements, availability of COVID testing.
    • 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 staff.
  • 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 staff, students, and local partners, we have developed a COVID-19 Agreement for all students and staff to review and sign prior to the program start. View the Fall 2021 COVID-19 Agreement here. Please note that this agreement will be updated and may change for Spring 2022 students. 

As mentioned, these considerations have led us to modify our Fall 2021 programs to reflect best practices in responsible travel. We will continue to apply this lens to our decisions for Fall 2021 and Spring 2022. We are optimistic that with increasing distribution of the vaccine, improved medical therapies and testing accuracy, and people acting in accordance with socially responsible COVID-19 practices, Carpe Diem Education will be able to resume full operations soon!

"I recommend that every student who has even the slightest inclination to take a gap year to do it and do it with Carpe. Parents can feel confident about the Carpe leaders and staff -- they are experienced and professional. For my student, the experience was educational, personally transformational, and of course, loads of fun."

- Parent of a Fall 2019 Latitudes Year Student

FAQs

How has Carpe Diem been monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic?

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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.

We acknowledge that this situation is ever-changing and we are hopeful that over the next several months the world will have a much better grasp on the COVID-19 pandemic. We are optimistic that communities will have increased access to the vaccine, greater capacity for rapid and accurate testing, inexpensive and effective medical treatment and other means of mitigating the risks of transmitting the virus. 

We are cautiously optimistic that new developments in COVID-19 management will allow for an increase in our international programming this year. 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 2021 program now and I decide later that I’m not comfortable traveling, or the program is canceled?

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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 2021 plans we have modified our refund policy so that you have less stress in regard to timelines and financial commitments. 

Please see above for our Fall 2021 contingency plans.

What happens if I sign up for a Fall 2021 program and I change my mind?

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All Fall 2021 students have until August 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 Fall 2021 program now and cancel before August 1st, 2021.

Is a COVID-19 vaccine required to participate in a Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 program?

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Carpe Diem continues to reference trusted medical and travel organizations such as the CDC, WHO, U.S. State Department, the Overseas Advisory Council (OSAC), and our medical consultant when determining risk management decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has recently outlined travel recommendations specific to vaccinated people, which clearly allow for greater ease of movement, fewer restrictions for traveling in a small group, greater capacity for engaging with local partners and communities, and reduced need for COVID-19 testing (an important resource in areas where the vaccine is unavailable).

At Carpe Diem, we strive to travel in a manner that promotes the highest level of care, consideration, and respect for our students, staff, local partners, and host communities. We believe that, in the context of the current pandemic, one of the most effective ways to support the health and well-being of all stakeholders is to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19.

Beginning with our Fall 2021 semester, all students who are enrolled in a Carpe Diem program will be required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 at least two weeks prior to the program start date. Students will be required to submit proof of vaccination to Carpe Diem at least two weeks prior to the program start date. 

*Please note that all Fall 2021 Carpe Diem Overseas Educators and Portland HQ Staff will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

How do the new US State Department Level 4 Travel Warnings impact Carpe Diem?

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The U.S. Department of State recently updated their travel advisories to align with recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). This has resulted in many countries throughout the world being rated as Level 4: Do Not Travel.

When making decisions on where our groups will travel, Carpe Diem assesses each region based on multiple considerations. In the case that a Level 4 travel advisory is specific to COVID-19, Carpe Diem may decide to continue traveling to this region. As a means to mitigate risk of transmission, Carpe Diem is requiring all students and staff to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 prior to departing this fall. For all programs, Carpe Diem will adhere to the specific CDC guidelines for vaccinated travelers.

We are taking into account unique challenges that come with travel during a global pandemic and are adapting our programs as needed to best mitigate risks to our students, staff, and local host communities.  We will continue to monitor all CDC and U.S. Department of State updates and recommendations and are prepared to make any necessary program adjustments to support the health and well-being of all program participants.

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

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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 (info@carpediemeducation.org) anytime and we will respond as soon as possible.