I am writing with the unfortunate news that Middlebury has made the difficult decision to suspend the in-person program for the School in Russia this spring. Given the very limited availability of international flights out of Russia, and the US Department of State’s authorization for family members and non-essential embassy staff to return to the US, we feel that it is time for students to leave the country. Militarily, the invasion has not gone the way anyone expected, and this has made it virtually impossible to make future predictions as to what the situation will be like in Russia for our students. The best way to ensure our students’ safety, which remains our top priority, is to remove students from Moscow and Irkutsk as soon as possible.
Students will be able to finish the semester remotely and earn academic credit for their courses. I need to finalize plans for this as quickly as possible, in consultation with your professors and the rest of the School in Russia staff, and we will be in touch with you as soon as we can with a process and a schedule for completing the semester. Our priority right now is making sure you are able to leave Russia quickly and safely. Then we will work on the academic component. Rest assured that we’ll allow some time for students to get settled wherever they are for the rest of the semester before we resume classes. If any student wishes to withdraw from the program, that is also an option. Please be aware that there is no tuition refund if a student withdraws, and a student’s transcript would show WDs for their courses for the semester. Middlebury will also be sending a copy of this letter to the study abroad offices of non-Middlebury students so that they are aware the in-person program is suspended.
As for booking flights out of Russia, we know that the EU has banned Russian aircraft from their airspace. We know that there are other options for leaving Russia, such as flying through Turkey, Armenia, Serbia, India, United Arab Emirates, and other countries in Asia. As you look for flights, please be sure that you understand any visa or PCR requirements related to travel and/or Covid. If you are struggling to secure a flight out of Russia, please let me know and the staff here can try to work with you to find a flight. If you are in a situation where you don’t have enough money to pay for your airfare, please come to me. I will be able to lend you money from College funds that you’ll be asked to pay back later. Please send me your flight itinerary once you’ve booked your flight, and please also let me know once you’ve made it safely out of the country. You will also want to make sure you communicate with your host family or dorm your intended departure date. You should also consult with your homestay or landlord to determine what your financial liability is with an early departure from Russia.
It is very unfortunate that your time in Russia has been cut short, and so abruptly. The staff and I remain available to assist you, and we will continue our communication throughout the semester, even once you’ve left the country.
Associate Professor and Director
Middlebury School in Russia