ISSS: Follow Up to President Patton's Message re: COVID-19 precautions
| by Kathy Foley
Dear International Students at Middlebury College & the Middlebury Institute (including Exchange Students and Teaching Assistants at the College),
This is a follow-up email to President Patton’s message about precautionary steps being taken by our institution in response to the COVID-19 virus in the U.S. We know that there has been much information shared today within a short time frame and it may feel overwhelming. Many offices on campus are working diligently to address the evolving situation and your many questions and concerns.
We understand that international students have many questions, including whether this decision affects their visa status, and more. We want to be sure to send accurate information, and appreciate your patience as you awaited this email from ISSS. This initial email clarifies a few issues and identifies topics we will address in the coming days.
The information below applies to students with a visa status sponsored by Middlebury. If your U.S. student visa is sponsored by an organization other than Middlebury College or the Middlebury Institute, please seek guidance from your contact at that organization. Feel free to share this email with them, as it may help inform their advice.
Maintaining your U.S. Visa Status:
First, we will address the most pressing question of the day. This is of particular interest because after spring break, Middlebury will require students to participate in classes remotely (i.e. via virtual, computer-based, and alternate methods), which is not typically allowed for international students.
We expect that international students—who began their coursework via in-person classes and then participate remotely—will be considered to be maintaining their student visa status during the period in which Middlebury offers its current spring term courses through this alternate method of course delivery.
- On March 6th and 9th, the U.S. government released important guidance regarding international students and scholars. These guidelines offer institutions greater flexibility with temporary adaptations to the delivery of courses and programs during this worldwide health crisis.
- The Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and the U.S. Department of State (DoS), which govern the F-1 and J-1 student programs respectively, recognize that schools may need to offer alternate methods of course delivery due to COVID-19. This method of delivery must be reported to SEVP, which Middlebury will do.
- To maintain their visa status, international students will be expected to participate in a “full course of study” (i.e. full time) for the duration of Spring Term.
- Please note that this is a temporary accommodation by the U.S. government. If conditions change, ISSS will update you accordingly.
Additional Questions & Concerns:
We know that you may have additional questions about your status, as well as other concerns. ISSS will address the following topics in upcoming communications.
- Travel-Related Questions
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) Eligibility
- For Middlebury College students only:
- Information for international students currently studying abroad or at an approved study away location in the U.S.
- Reminder to complete the Departure Form or Request to Stay (for permission to remain on campus)—deadline is Thurs., March 12 at 3pm ET using this form.
Note: Only Middlebury College students who are approved to stay will be allowed to remain on campus after Friday. Students approved to stay by the Dean of the College Office must remain in Middlebury, VT for the full duration of the spring break and beyond (i.e. you cannot leave town and then return to campus).
- And, other related topics.
We recognize that there may be some questions you have that we do not yet have answers for.
- We will do our best to guide you to appropriate resources or provide an answer when we have one.
- We will also offer ways for you to ask questions/receive guidance from ISSS staff members.
- On Wednesday, ISSS will announce additional drop-in hours for obtaining I-20/DS-2019 travel signatures this week.
We hope you will continue to take good care of yourself and follow the CDC precautions for staying healthy.
All our best,
~Kathy, on behalf of The ISSS Team (Kathy Foley, Kelly O’Connell, Christy Fry, Kas Singh, Loren Scott, and Carolyn Dahm)
Kathy Foley (pronouns: she/her/hers)
Associate Dean and Director of ISSS
Middlebury College and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey