How the new Omicron variant affects 2022 study abroad plans

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The Office of Study Abroad plans the spring 2022 semester study abroad trips to move forward. Students, however, are wondering if Omicron may change the situation.

After almost two years of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, study abroad at Webster University has been in full swing this past semester.

With students from the home campus in Webster Groves able to go abroad again, excitement has built around the different programs and trips being offered in spring and summer 2022.

But with the Omicron variant being officially confirmed in the U.S. as of Dec. 1, concern has risen around study abroad possibly being paused again. Rumors have spread about whether or not programs for next semester will be canceled.

Graphic by Kenzie Akins.

As of right now, nothing official has been released from the Office of Study Abroad about cancellation.

“Webster officially approved the majority of our study abroad programs for the spring semester earlier this semester, just before Omicron,” Study Abroad Advisor Tyler Worlund said. “Obviously, decisions are subject to change, as the situation with the pandemic continues to change. However, we are still planning to move forward with the majority of our programs.”

Despite no official worry from the office, students have been concerned and talking for weeks about the possibility of their programs not happening, with many expecting an announcement from the Office of Study Abroad by the end of winter break.

Senior Jenna Dietl plans to study abroad in Ecuador over spring break.

“Dr. Lindsey Kingston is taking us to Quito, Ecuador. From there, we will meet up with Professor Dana Hill, who is based in Ecuador, and we will then fly into the Amazon rainforest. We will be staying with the Sápara indigenous peoples who live in the Amazon,” Dietl said.

But due to the nature of their trip, Dietl has some worries.

“It’s very possible it will get canceled, as we do not want to infect any of the indigenous people who have no access to vaccines or hospitals, especially as the new variant spreads,” Dietl said. “I haven’t received anything on a specific date [to hear about cancellations] and have only heard by word of mouth it will be before spring semester starts.”

For now, programs are still good to go while taking precautions.

“Our office, as well as the Division of Global Education, continues to monitor the situation in every country where we operate programs, and we have on-site staff on the ground in each country who we are in regular communication with as well,” Worlund said. “While the new variant has prompted several countries to re-introduce various restrictions, in most cases, proof of vaccination allows our students to enter the country and participate in what can currently be considered ‘normal’ daily life.”

 

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News Editor | + posts

Alexandria Darmody (she/they) is the news editor for the Journal, and a senior journalism major and FTVP minor. She enjoys digital art, photography and reading nonfiction stories. In her free time, she makes collages from old magazines and collects stickers to decorate surfaces. She's interested in the business side of journalism, and she's an avid viewer of Succession.