FAQ for COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions in view of the COVID-19 pandemic

 CYA is determined to offer its students an outstanding experience in the upcoming semesters, in spite of COVID-19. We are working with two parallel aims in mind; to ensure your safety and good health, and at the same time deliver an academically superior and fulfilling semester abroad experience, without limiting your opportunities to understand and appreciate the country, its people and its culture.

Last update: January 4, 2022

Travelling to Greece

Travelers from the United States are allowed entry to Greece.  According to the latest mandate by the Greek authorities, “all passengers older than 5 years old that are allowed to enter in Greece, regardless of nationality, their vaccination status or proof of recovery must display a negative molecular test result (PCR) for Covid-19 performed up to 72 hours before the scheduled arrival or a negative Rapid Antigen test result for Covid-19 performed up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival.

For details please see travel.gov.gr .  Travelers should check with their airlines for specific requirements of the airline itself, and for transiting requirements if they are flying to Athens via another European city.

If the program of studies is longer than 90 days, the student will need to obtain a student visa.

COVID-19 Vaccination

Does CYA require that I be vaccinated for COVID-19 in order to attend the program? 

CYA has made the decision to require proof of vaccination of all students for as long as the pandemic lasts.  This decision was made after taking into serious consideration the measures imposed by the Greek government on unvaccinated persons. These measures will encumber a student’s daily life, affect attendance of our program, and in general reduce the level of their study abroad experience. The decision not to accept non-vaccinated students has been made in order to inform incoming students but also to ensure a smooth and safe experience for all. Additionally, for the safety of the CYA community, all CYA staff & faculty have been vaccinated. 

The Greek government, in its effort to encourage people to vaccinate against COVID-19, has imposed the requirement of proof of vaccination for the participation in many indoor and outdoor activities, including admittance to places of entertainment such as cafeterias, restaurants, theaters and movie theaters, as well as museums and galleries, gyms, sports events, etc. A recent negative test is required for the participation in or admittance to many other activities and enclosed spaces. 

Given that CYA’s program involves a great degree of hands-on learning at sites and museums, and that the highlights of the program are its educational trips, two of which are 4 to 5 days long, non-vaccinated students would encounter obstacles – and incur extra expenses – just to attend class, participate in study travel, or to simply enjoy their free time.

Students who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 may upload their vaccination card on the CYA Document Submission form along with their post acceptance materials.  

What about Booster shots? 

Students should receive their Covid booster shots before they come to Greece. At this time, it is not possible for non-EU residents to receive their booster shot in Greece. Please keep in mind that vaccination certificates are acceptable for one year from the date of vaccination, so those who were vaccinated early in the year may find themselves without a valid proof of vaccination in the middle of the semester. Also, there is a strong possibility that a booster shot would become mandatory in the coming months.  More importantly, the scientific community believes that a booster shot protects against the Omicron variant which is extremely transmissible.  So please make sure you get your booster shots and remember to submit your vaccination documents in the Google Form linked to your accepted students page.

Pre-departure/Arrival

Will I need a student visa to participate in the CYA program?
If the duration of your program is longer than 90 days, you will need a student visa.  CYA will help you with the visa process; however, to apply for a visa students must have a passport valid for at least 3 months beyond your intended day of return to the U.S.  If you need to apply for or renew your passport, please check the US Government’s Services website for details.  Due to public health measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the United States, you may face significant delays in receiving your passport. Check the State Department’s page on Passport operations for more information.

So who would need a visa?
If you are not a citizen of the US, Canada, Australia, or the European Schengen region, you may need a visa to enter Greece even for a short period of time (under 90 days).

If you are not an EU citizen, you will need a student visa in order to stay in Europe for more than 90 days. Please email CYA at [email protected] to set up an appointment to go over this process.

What about semester-long studies?
CYA’s semester is longer than 90 days; therefore, students who are not EU citizens will need a student visa to participate in the program. This process typically begins a few months before the student goes abroad.

What changes have already been made or will be made to the semester’s length?

CYA implemented date changes for the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters.   This adjusted schedule still preserved the required number of contact hours and the overall richness & quality of the CYA experience.
CYA’s program is now back to normal length.  Spring Semester 2022 will run from January 17 to May 13 and Fall Semester 2022 will run from August 29 to December 16.

Refund Policy: For Winter and Spring 2022, CYA will issue a full refund to students who withdraw up to the day before Arrivals Day (see Finances/Refunds section below).

 

How will CYA prepare me to go abroad during this time?
CYA has staff both in the US and in Greece who will help you prepare for your time abroad. We will be providing students with a series of virtual Pre-departure and Life in Greece orientation sessions, starting several months in advance, and continuing until close to your arrival day.

Should I book my flight?
Travel restrictions between countries and airline schedules change frequently due to the volatility of the pandemic.  When the time comes to purchase your ticket, you should inquire with the airline about their flight change and cancellation policy.

Will there be a mandatory quarantine for passengers arriving in Greece?
Currently there is no quarantine requirement for passengers arriving from a number of countries, including the United States. If, for any reason, a quarantine will be required at the time of your arrival,  CYA is prepared to proceed with orientation and program activities on-line. CYA is closely monitoring COVID-19 developments and the relevant announcements by the US State Department, the CDC as well as European and, of course, the Greek National Public Health Organization, and the Greek Civil Protection Organization and we will be adjusting and expanding our preparations accordingly.

Will I have to show health documentation upon arrival at the airport?
At this time Greece requires that you present proof of a negative PCR test done within 72 hours prior to your scheduled arrival, or  of a negative antigen (rapid) test, done within 24 hours prior to your scheduled arrival, regardless of your vaccination or recovery status.  Also, all passengers traveling on international flights to Greece are required to fill in and electronically submit the compulsory Passenger Locator Form (PLF) not later than the day prior to entering the country.
CYA will keep you informed on the latest requirements when the time comes.  Even if the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test is lifted by the time you are ready to travel, some airlines may have additional requirements in order to board your flight, so you should check with your airline(s) as well.

For the latest information regarding entry to Greece please see the Greek Government’s Protocol for Arrivals in and Departures from Greece and the Athens Airport’s FAQ section on COVID-19.

Will CYA require that I be tested for COVID-19 when I arrive there?

If, at the time of your arrival to Athens or at any time during the semester, and despite the fact that you are vaccinated, CYA may consider COVID-19 tests necessary, CYA will arrange for the tests at no cost to the students.

Is there health insurance that would support students?
Supplemental Hospitalization insurance is included in the CYA semester fees. We recommend that students also make sure that they carry health insurance through their parents/guardians or their school as their primary insurance coverage. Before arriving in Greece, students should check with their current insurance company regarding using their health insurance internationally, and that their insurance covers COVID-19 or pandemic-related treatment in general. It should be noted that, as dictated by the Greek health system, hospitalization for COVID-19 is available only at specific public hospitals whose fees are extremely low.

My parents are concerned; is there someone they can talk to regarding their questions?
CYA has staff both in the US and in Greece who are prepared to answer your and your parent’s questions. If you would like to schedule an appointment to go over any concerns or questions about the program, please e-mail [email protected].
For general information about the situation in Greece you may  contact the American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece, by phone at +30 210-721-2951 or by e-mail at [email protected] or visit their COVID-19 page.

Is there anything I can do now to help prepare?
●    Please make sure you enroll in STEP before going abroad!
●    Stay aware! Be sure you are keeping up to date with what is going on in the world using reputable news sources. The online English version of the reputable Greek newspaper Kathimerini is also a very reliable source of information.
●    Follow the news about COVID-19 on the CDC, WHO, and State Dept. pages and subscribe to their newsletters.
●    CYA will also be sharing articles and announcements about Greece, so make sure you read all the emails we send you.

What is CYA’s timeline for decisions?

CYA’s winter 2022 Session is proceeding as scheduled.  The spring 2022 semester will also run as scheduled.

Academics

If I cannot arrive in time due to a positive test, will I be able to catch up with classes?
The first week of the semester is dedicated to orientation activities; classes start the following Monday.  Even if you are delayed at home due to a positive COVID-19 test, CYA will help you acclimate once you arrive, and your professors will work with you to find ways for you to catch up with missed classes.

What happens if schools in Greece must be closed for any period of time, or if my home institution requires that I return home before the semester is completed?
CYA is fully prepared to continue classes online via synchronous and/or asynchronous sessions for as short or as long a period as becomes necessary.  Also, course material and audiovisual aids for all courses will be available to students online via Moodle.
In spring 2020, when students were ordered by their home institutions to return to the U.S., CYA arranged for all courses to be switched quickly to online. Students were able to complete their classes online from home and to receive full credit.

Housing

I’m concerned about housing amidst COVID-19, how is CYA addressing housing in the Spring?  In the Fall?
Although single occupancy bedrooms cannot be guaranteed, CYA will make every effort to maintain reduced capacity at CYA apartments.  Each bedroom has a separate clima (hot/cold) unit. All CYA apartments are within walking distance of the Academic Center, eliminating the need of public transportation.

Can I still participate in a Homestay?
CYA will offer Homestays again in the future when conditions make us confident that it will be safe for students to stay in a housing environment not directly overseen by CYA.  This decision has been made out of an abundance of caution for our incoming students.

What precautions is CYA taking to ensure that apartments are clean/sanitized?

Cleaning of apartments is done by CYA skilled crew who follow all protocols regarding COVID-19. Cleaning agents and sanitizing materials for surfaces and toilets are also available in each apartment for students to use themselves as needed. Hand disinfectant and paper towels are provided by CYA in each apartment.

What if I develop COVID-19 symptoms and I am ordered to stay in home isolation?

CYA has reserved apartments for the isolation of students who test positive for COVID-19 but do not require hospitalization. CYA will also help ensure a safe environment for non-infected roommates. CYA will comply with all health authorities’ instructions regarding at-home isolation or quarantine of positive or suspected cases, as well as students identified as close contacts, and will assist students with their daily needs, such as grocery shopping etc. CYA will also deliver a packaged lunch to isolated or quarantined students on those days that lunch is offered at the CYA Cafeteria.

Are there things I should avoid doing?
CYA will be sharing recommendations and policies set forth by health authorities regarding social distancing and health-related precautions. Government imposed restrictions will be changing over time, and CYA will keep students up to date on all restrictions and procedures regarding the use of masks, social distancing, group gatherings, shopping, nightlife, etc. CYA will share the most current information during the pre-departure online orientation sessions, as well as upon student arrival, and will continue communicating with students about the latest developments throughout their stay in Greece.

Classes / Classrooms / Offices / Common areas

How is CYA going to handle social distancing in classrooms? Are class sizes going to be adjusted?
CYA has an abundance of classrooms of different sizes. Classrooms are assigned depending on the number of students enrolled in each class & according to Greek authorities’ regulations regarding classroom distancing. Onsite classes are conducted with respect to social distancing, abiding by museum and sites health protocols, and with the use of wireless audio guide systems to increase audible range and facilitate easy communication while maintaining social distancing.

Have extra measures in sanitation & facilities maintenance been taken?
Since January 2020, the housing department has upgraded its daily cleaning regime by following WHO and CDC recommendations, as well as Greek health authorities’ mandates about sanitizing home, school, and work environments. As per cleaning procedures established at CYA since January 2020, disinfectant is used on all frequently touched surfaces such as desks, tables, doorknobs, railings, etc.   Classroom  equipment is disinfected between classes as well. WHO and CDC posters on how to prevent the spread of a disease and how to identify COVID-19 symptoms have been posted throughout the CYA facilities and in student apartments. Hand disinfectant containers have been placed prominently and in abundance throughout the CYA buildings and in all student apartments. All classrooms have opening windows for air ventilation and most have a separate clima unit.

Will students/staff be required to wear masks?
Currently masks must be worn in all enclosed public spaces such as stores, banks, supermarkets, schools, classrooms, public offices, etc.  CYA will inform you and help you comply with local government directives at all times.

Is there regular taking of students’ temperature? Either themselves or on-site?
Although not currently required by health authorities, daily temperature taking with the use of no-contact thermometers will be done if it is deemed prudent. In addition, thermometers will be available in the apartments.

Will I be tested for COVID-19 while at CYA?
Currently tests are not required by the Health Authorities for vaccinated students to attend class; nevertheless, if, at any time during the semester, and despite the fact that you are vaccinated, CYA may consider a COVID-19 test necessary, CYA will arrange for the tests at no cost to the students.

If I get sick, can I still participate in class while being quarantined?
Depending on the requirements of each class, your professors will help you arrange the most effective method for you to keep up to speed with your classes while in quarantine. Online course material, bibliography, and supplemental reading will be available on Moodle throughout the semester. Other material, such as prerecorded lecture videos; videos from onsite; videos of interviews; podcasts; PowerPoint and class-notes; reading; discussion forums, may also be available online, depending on the course.

Field Study

Will the popular CYA Field Study program be affected?
There may be changes of itineraries dictated by local conditions but CYA will do its utmost to deliver a rich study travel program in various parts of Greece and a full exposure to life and culture outside Athens.  Traveling on buses, boats or airlines will be arranged according to social distancing regulations in effect at the time for each means of public transportation.

Finances/Refunds

What happens if I want to withdraw or defer my acceptance to a later term?
Please notify CYA as soon as you decide to withdraw or defer your acceptance. CYA will instruct you how to do so.  Please also be sure to notify your school of your intention to withdraw from CYA or to defer to a later semester.

CYA’s Refund policy for Academic Years 2020-21 and  2021-22 has been amended to alleviate some of the financial concerns and uncertainties caused by COVID-19: in the event that a student withdraws from, or CYA cancels, the program prior to Arrivals Day, CYA will issue a 100% refund including the $600 non-refundable deposit. 

Will I get my money back if I defer to a later semester?
Yes; nevertheless you should follow the payment guidelines relevant to the semester you defer to.

Healthcare in Greece

What is the healthcare system like in Greece if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
Normally, CYA uses private hospitals for its students’ needs. However, procedures for COVID-19 testing & hospitalization have been determined and are being controlled  by the Greek health authorities. Patients and physicians alike have to follow these procedures. If hospitalization for COVID-19 is necessary, patients are admitted to public hospitals that are specially designated and appropriately equipped & staffed for COVID-19 treatment. At least two of these hospitals are in close proximity to CYA.

For any non-COVID-19 related medical needs (outpatient or hospitalization) CYA helps students to a nearby private hospital, Euroclinic, which guarantees a COVID-19-free environment.

The Student Affairs department keeps up to date with the latest government instructions regarding handling and processing a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case and will assist students with the procedure.

Are COVID-19 tests readily available should I feel ill?
Yes, PCR and Rapid tests are readily available at at local pharmacies, diagnostic centers and Labs, as well as at all the COVID-19 equipped public hospitals. One such diagnostic center/Lab is within 5 minutes walking distance from CYA. PCR tests currently cost under 50 Euros, while Rapid tests cost 10 Euros or less.  Self tests are available for purchase at pharmacies, costing about 5 -7 Euros.

Greece during COVID-19

How has Greece responded to the pandemic?
Greece responded to the pandemic early and in an efficient and competent way.  Daily updates are given by the health authorities and regulations are announced and clarified weekly. The early and lengthy lockdown in Spring 2020 and repeated shorter-term lockdowns to-date, have helped Greece to deal with the pandemic with a relatively low number of victims and the death toll percentage in Greece has been among the lowest in Europe.  The vaccination program started in December 2020 with Healthcare personnel. The vaccinations for the general population started on January 16, 2021 giving priority to the elderly and those with health problems.  Right now vaccination is available to anyone over 5 years old and booster shots are available to those whose vaccination was completed more than 4 months ago.  Booster shots are mandatory for those over 60.

Will I have to wear a face mask when out in public?
With the appearance of the Omicron variant, the use of masks was made mandatory outdoors as well.   Masks are mandatory indoors in all public spaces, including offices and schools, as well as in public transportation.  The penalty for not wearing a mask is 300 Euros. Fines are issued by the police.

Curently, it is recommended that people use a high level protection mask (KN95, N95, FFP2) or two masks worn together  where there is crowding such as street markets, busy tourist places, shopping areas, queues at bus stops, etc. and in busy enclosed spaces such as shopping malls or supermarkets.

Will sites such as museums, historic sites, churches, and more be open?
Archaeological and historic sites, museums, and galleries are  open, with limits as to the size of groups and number of visitors at any time. Proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test is currently required to enter an enclosed space such as a museum or a gallery.

Churches are open but masks are mandatory, as in all enclosed spaces.

Will I be allowed to travel outside of Greece during my time abroad? What measures will CYA take for students who choose to travel on weekends?

Travel restrictions change frequently and may disrupt unexpectedly any plans you may have made. Travel documentation (testing) and quarantines may be announced by any country, or even an airline, overnight. CYA will not be able to assist you if you are prevented from returning to Athens due to a positive Rapid Test and subsequent quarantine, or if you find yourself in need of medical care while outside of Greece. You are therefore strongly advised not to plan trips outside of Greece during your studies at CYA.
Although travel within Greece is allowed effective May 15, 2021, travel restrictions may still be put in effect for certain areas or islands, depending on local COVID-19 conditions.  CYA strongly recommends that you discuss your travel plans with us before making any arrangements, to ensure that travel to your destination is safe and/or permitted, and that CYA would be able to help you if you fell ill or were placed in quarantine while traveling.

If I leave Greece for a weekend trip, will I have to quarantine upon arrival back into Greece?
You will have to follow government regulations in effect at the time of your travel, both towards your destination & when returning to Greece. Currently many European countries (including Greece) impose a 7-day quarantine for  incoming travelers from various points of origin. Experience from these past months has shown us that decisions to quarantine travelers may be announced unexpectedly and for varying lengths (3-10 days). In addition, depending on your travel destination(s) CYA may require that you are tested for COVID-19 at your expense before you return to classes.

Will I still be able to participate in internships/volunteer work?
Yes, the CYA Student Affairs department will advise you on volunteering/internship opportunities that would pose the least threat to exposure to the COVID-19 virus. However, it will be up to you to take all precautions necessary commuting to the volunteer location as well as during your time there.

What precautions should I take if I use public transportation?
The CYA apartments are within a 2-10 minute walk from the Academic Center, and the places where your on-site classes will be held are all within walking distance; therefore there is no need for public transportation to attend classes.  Specific instructions regarding the use of public transportation, as well as airline and ferry travel, are issued by the government and the public health authorities. Students will be kept updated with the latest information throughout the semester.  At this time, using a mask is mandatory on all means of public transportation (ground, air and sea), as well as in taxis.  Most Greeks who use public transportation wear double masks as an extra precaution.