COVID-19: Past program terms

The following Frequently Asked Questions address past program terms cancelled due to COVID-19.

2022-23 Programs (All Terms)

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Research programs and apply

  • Attend general advising to help narrow down programs and make an appointment for program-specific inquiries once you’ve narrowed down a program.
  • Review what programs are of most interest to you and have several options in mind. Look at the virtual program options we currently have available.
  • Check the program webpage to see if there is an application open for your desired term, as not all programs are accepting applications.
  • Apply for your program by the application deadline.
  • Ensure you have a valid passport that expires at least six months after your program end date. If you do not, you are strongly encouraged to apply immediately. Application instructions and information is available here.
  • Please note that your desired program’s location(s) may have COVID-19 vaccination (and/or testing) requirements to enter. These conditions change often. Please contact your Study Abroad Advisor if you have any concerns about these requirements.

Understand your program's cost

Review the cost sheet for your program, which includes our financial policies.

Important notes:

  • Acceptance deposits are normally non-refundable.
  • Acceptance deposits are refundable if UW-Madison cancels a program for any reason.
  • Remember that out of pocket expenses are your responsibility.

Once accepted to a program, complete your "Tasks to Complete"

  • Complete required Tasks to Complete in your MyStudyAbroad (MySA) account, and check in on this task list regularly. These tasks include the Student Acceptance Form:  COVID-19 Acknowledgement.
  • Familiarize yourself with your program information and related policies. These are found on your program website, study abroad/away and program handbooks (located in your MySA account), and your program cost sheet.
  • Research housing and other on-site arrangements, but do not make any arrangements until the program is confirmed to run.
  • Submit Course Equivalency Requests (CERs) (when applicable) in your MySA account to determine course equivalents.
  • Research visa requirements (if required) for studying in your program location.

Advice for making travel and other arrangements

  • We recommend you explore fully refundable tickets and travel insurance options.
  • If you are looking for housing in Madison, read the lease carefully and have a back-up plan if your study abroad program runs.
  • Carefully review and avoid paying any other non-recoverable expenses as much as possible.

World events require all of us to remain flexible as plans can change any time. We encourage you to have backup plans for classes, housing, and other arrangements.

Understand what your experience will be like and how to prepare

Study abroad and domestic study away will look differently than it did in years past. In the immediate future once on-site programs are able to recommence, there will probably be fewer locations to choose from, housing options may be more limited, program dates may shift, course formats may change, excursions might change, and physical distancing guidelines will need to be followed. We will do our best to keep you updated on changes that may occur on your program. We’ll be here for you to answer any questions you may have and support you in your planning. Additionally, please read the Student Acceptance Form:  COVID-19 Acknowledgement.

Travel while on the program may look different as well. Whether you can travel or not to other countries while abroad will depend on each program’s and country’s regulations. You may be restricted to stay within your host country. Even if not restricted, we strongly recommend you travel only within your host country and not to other countries during the program dates as guidance and regulations can change rapidly, and borders have closed suddenly and unexpectedly. We hope you embrace this as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the local culture and landscape.

What PPE/pandemic-related items should I pack?

You should plan to pack masks, hand sanitizer, a thermometer.  Your program may have other specific requirements.

Do I need to get a COVID test prior to departure?

This will vary by country and may change over time. We encourage you to go to the U.S. Embassy’s page for your host country for more information.  You will also need to provide the specific documentation requested by your host country.

If you need a negative test result for travel purposes and you are here in Madison, check with UHS for the test and appropriate documentation: https://www.uhs.wisc.edu/medical/travel-clinic/. You can also get a test through Dane County Public Health but make sure you follow the instructions listed here for international documentation: https://publichealthmdc.com/documents/covid_int_travel.pdf. If you are not in Madison, check with your local healthcare clinic about testing and documentation. Be sure you have a plan well in advance of travel and understand the likely wait time for results.

Will I need to quarantine after I arrive, and what will that be like?

This will vary by country, but you may need to do so.  Many countries, including the U.S. have quarantine requirements.  You will need to research your country’s and program’s requirements.  The best source for this is the U.S. Embassy for the country you’re visiting.

Some programs are building a quarantine period into their program.  For other countries, you may have to quarantine upon arrival.  The level of support provided will vary by program, and we encourage you at ask your Study Abroad Advisor if you have any questions. Note that any costs associated with quarantine are your responsibility.

View a list of suggested things to do during quarantine.

What are personal trips and travel going to be like once I’m abroad?

Travel while on the program may look different as well. Whether you can travel outside your host city or to other countries while abroad will depend on each program’s and country’s regulations. You may be restricted to stay within your host city or host country. If you are in a situation where your ability to travel is limited to your host city or local region, we hope you embrace this as an opportunity to deepen your understanding of the local culture and landscape.

You may also have to quarantine upon return for personal travel.  Any costs associated with that quarantine period would be at your own expense. Personal travel is not an acceptable excuse for missing classes and may impact your grades as many locations have attendance policies.

Will I be able to have visitors from the US?

You may be able to have visitors, but many countries have not allowed tourists to enter even when they are allowing student entry.  Your program may also have rules about visitors.  We would recommend waiting to make plans until after your arrival so you can see what types of options are available.

What happens if I test positive for COVID while abroad?

If you test positive for COVID while abroad, notify your local program staff immediately and follow their guidance on self-isolation and contact tracing. All UW-Madison study abroad program participants are enrolled in comprehensive travel insurance through CISI. CISI provides medical benefits in the event of hospitalization as well as the cost of testing, when part of a course of treatment. CISI also offers trip delay benefits in certain instances of delay due to quarantine or sickness.

 What happens if my host city has specific requirements/restrictions/lockdown?

You must follow any public health and safety measures that may be implemented by your host country or program.  You will get steps communicated to you by local staff about expectations and requirements.  Lockdowns can mean different things in different countries.  You will be expected to follow any guidance given by us, program partners, and are expected to follow all local and national laws of your host country.

Do I need to get vaccinated to participate in a UW-Madison study abroad/away program?

We strongly encourage all participants to be up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccinations with a CDC or WHO approved COVID-19 vaccine prior to their program start date.

The University of Wisconsin–Madison does not require that participants be vaccinated. However, countries may require proof of vaccination for entry, and some programs and partners may also require proof of vaccination prior to participation. Additionally, country and program protocols such as mandatory quarantines, travel policies, course and activity participation, housing options, and testing requirements may vary by vaccination status. Being fully vaccinated with a CDC or WHO approved vaccine will result in a less burdensome and safer traveling, living, and learning experience for you and those you interact with given dynamic worldwide conditions due to COVID-19.

It is your responsibility to understand and abide by the vaccination requirements (including acceptable vaccine types and verification methods) for your specific program and location(s), as well as any country you may travel through or visit during your time abroad. Note that restrictions and regulations may change at any time. Any related delays, penalties, quarantines, program status changes or cancellations, and associated costs are the full responsibility of the student.

We encourage you to bring your COVID-19 vaccination record card when abroad and to also have copies available as a back-up.

You will need to research and monitor your country and program requirements. The U.S. Embassy is a good source for the country(ies) you’re visiting. For program specific requirements, please read all of your program materials carefully or reach out to your study abroad advisor if you have any questions.

If you are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster, we strongly recommend that you get one before you depart for your program. The definition of “fully vaccinated” in many countries could change to include a booster or second/third dose (depending on vaccine) at some point before or during your study abroad experience and access to boosters for study abroad students may vary as well per location. Please also check in with your program for specific recommendations. This recommendation aligns with current CDC guidance, which can be found here.

Do I need to show proof of vaccination to enter my country?

This will vary by country and may change over time.  We encourage you to go to the U.S. Embassy’s page for your host country for the most current information on vaccination requirements.

You are responsible for understanding and following the entry information for your host country and for any country where you travel.  If you do not follow the entry requirements, that could preclude you from entering your host country, resulting in unforeseen personal expenses for which you won’t be reimbursed, and may impact successful program completion.  You also must understand that rapid border closures, movement restrictions, or other declarations may occur.

What is a vaccine passport?

Vaccine passports are issued in a paper or digital format, such as smartphone apps that securely store your data, showing proof of your vaccination status. In some places, a vaccine passport would allow individuals to travel without restrictions or entry bans, including quarantine obligations or testing requirements.   You will need to make yourself aware of what is needed for proof of vaccine for your host country/city.

How do I know if my program will run?

We are constantly monitoring health and safety conditions and making decisions to run programs on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that even if your program is currently running, circumstances could change requiring the cancellation or modification of your program at any point before or after the program begins. Your study abroad advisor will be in contact with you with any important notifications. Please read through your program cost sheet carefully and make yourself aware of all relevant financial policies regarding program cancellations. Please reach out to your study abroad advisor with any questions regarding study abroad planning and managing potential changes to your program.  We encourage all students to have a back-up plan if their program is unable to run.

You can also use the new “Programs with Open Applications” search function on our Programs webpage to see a list of programs accepting applications.

I am an international student. Who should I contact about visa and travel questions?

International students should contact International Student Services (ISS) for advising about how this will impact your U.S. visa status as well as any concerns about returning to your home of record.

How do I submit application forms and when are they marked as submitted?

If you need to submit forms for your application follow these instructions.

How long does it take to hear a decision on my application?

It may take up to 4-6 weeks for your application to be reviewed after the regular program application deadline and for you to receive notice of a decision that will be emailed to your @wisc email account.

What happens to my scholarships and financial aid if my program is cancelled?

Any UW-Madison study abroad scholarships offered for your program will be rescinded. Scholarships cannot be retained to use on a future study abroad program. You will need to reapply for the scholarship when you apply for a future program.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine how your program cancellation will affect your scholarships and financial aid awards.

Where can I go to find more information about planning for a future program?

Please visit the Next Steps and Planning FAQ.

I'm not seeing my question answered on this page. Who should I contact?

Email
peeradvisor@studyabroad.wisc.edu

Call
Study Abroad Resource Center
(608) 265-6329
Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
If we are unable to answer your call, please leave a voicemail and we’ll return your call as soon as possible.

For program specific questions, we encourage you to reach out to your study abroad advisor.

Remote Advising
Study Abroad Advisors and Enrollment Specialist Advisors are available for phone or Skype advising appointments that can be made through Starfish.

Note: Drop-in advising at all study abroad advising locations is suspended until further notice.

Winter Intersession 2020-21, Spring Semester 2021, Spring Break 2021, & Calendar Year 2021 Programs

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How do I find out if my program has been canceled?

All participants will be notified as soon as any modifications are made to their specific program. All decisions to cancel programming will be made no later than October 15.

Spring Break 2021 programs have been cancelled.

Students should reach out to their study abroad advisor directly if they have any questions about their program’s timeline or what they should be doing now to prepare to study abroad this Winter Intersession 2020-21 or  Spring Semester 2021.

Students should create a back-up plan for a semester at UW-Madison in case a semester abroad is not an option.

Students who wish to participate in non-approved programs will need to apply for a waiver prior to the program.  Waivers are being reviewed on a very limited basis (e.g., student already in country, strong family support in country, etc.).  Please direct any non-approved program questions to non-approved@studyabroad.wisc.edu.

A cancellation decision hasn’t been made about my program yet. How should I handle booking airfare or out of pocket expenses?

Students should have back-up plans in place and avoid spending any unrecoverable costs towards their study abroad experience. Please also refer to the letter sent to spring semester and winter intersession students in July for advice on what steps you should be taking now.

If my program is canceled, do I need to apply again to go on another study abroad program in the future?

Yes.  You will need to submit a new application for either the same program or a different program for a future duration. You cannot change your application to another program for the same duration.

What happens to my scholarships and financial aid if my program is canceled?

Any UW Study Abroad scholarships offered for your program will be rescinded. Scholarships cannot be retained to use on a future study abroad program. You will need to reapply for the scholarship when you apply for a future program.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine how your program cancellation will affect your scholarships and financial aid awards.

My program was canceled. Will I receive a refund of my program confirmation deposit?

Yes, students who have paid their program confirmation deposit will be refunded. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.

Can I withdraw my participation before UW Study Abroad formally cancels my program?

Yes. If you choose this option then you will be fully refunded the $300 program confirmation deposit. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.

Will I be able to pick Satisfactory Disruptive/University Disruption –No Credit (SD/UD) grades for my courses from abroad?

Yes. If a student earns the equivalent of a C or higher from their grade conversion scale, and opts into the COVID-19 grading option, their grade will be converted to a SD. If a student earns the equivalent of a D or F from their grade conversion scale, and opts into the COVID-19 grading option, their grade will be converted to a UD.

How will I Indicate I want a SD/UD grade for my course?

When UW Study Abroad receives a student’s transcript, we will be sure that each course taken has an approved Course Equivalent Request.  Once all courses have been verified, the Enrollment Specialist Advisor will send you an email stating that you can select courses for the COVID-19 grading option through your MyStudyAbroad account.  You will have 8 days from receipt of the email to do so. 

Fall 2020 & Academic Year 2020-21 Programs

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How do I find out if my program has been canceled?

All participants will be notified as soon as any modifications are made to their specific program. All decisions to cancel programming will be made no later than July 15.

Students should reach out to their study abroad advisor directly if they have any questions about their program’s timeline, or what they should be doing now to prepare to study abroad in the fall or explore alternatives.

A cancellation decision hasn’t been made about my program yet. How should I handle booking airfare or out of pocket expenses?

Students should have back-up plans in place and avoid spending any unrecoverable costs towards their study abroad experience. Please also refer to the letter sent to fall students last month for advice on what steps you should be taking now.

If my program is canceled, do I need to apply again to go on another study abroad program in the future?

You can defer your application to the same program for Spring Semester 2021, if it is available. However if you are interested in another program or a different duration, you will need to submit a new application.

You cannot change your application to another Fall 2020 program

What happens to my scholarships and financial aid if my program is canceled?

Any UW Study Abroad scholarships offered for your program will be rescinded. Scholarships cannot be retained to use on a future study abroad program. You will need to reapply for the scholarship when you apply for a future program.

However, if you who defer your participation to Spring 2021 term for the same program may be able to retain your scholarship towards that program. Please contact our financial team to confirm whether or not you can retain your particular scholarship towards a Spring 2021 term offering of your program.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine how your program cancellation will affect your scholarships and financial aid awards.

My program was canceled. Will I receive a refund of my program confirmation deposit?

Yes, students who have paid their program confirmation deposit will be refunded. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.

Can I withdraw my participation before UW Study Abroad formally cancels my program?

Yes. If you choose this option then you will be fully refunded the $300 program confirmation deposit. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.

Spring 2020 & Summer 2020 Programs

Academics

Spring 2020 Programs

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Will I be able to earn credit for my courses abroad?

We are working with each overseas partner to see what academic credit may be available. Some programs have already confirmed that students can earn full credit via distance learning, and we are working to confirm this information for remaining programs soon. Please be advised that this may not be possible at all sites.

Staff will be in touch with you once information is confirmed for specific sites if arrangements are pending.

Can I still enroll in coursework at UW-Madison?

Though it is too late to enroll in regular Spring 2020 coursework at UW-Madison, we understand the impact that the cancellation of study abroad programs is having on students’ academic plans, and are exploring options with campus for other on-line or alternate course opportunities for our students for the remainder of Spring Semester and Summer.

Can I stay in my host country to continue coursework in-person?

No, you may not continue coursework in-person.

Will I be able to enroll for future terms at UW-Madison during my regular enrollment period?

Yes.

Will I be able to pick Satisfactory Disruptive/Unsatisfactory Disruptive (SD/UD) grades for my courses from abroad?

Yes.  If a student earns the equivalent of a C or higher from their grade conversion scale, and opts into the COVID-19 grading option, their grade will be converted to a SD.  If a student earns the equivalent of a D or F from their grade conversion scale, and opts into the COVID-19 grading option, their grade will be converted to a UD.

How will I indicate I want a SD/UD grade for my course?

When UW Study Abroad receives a student’s transcript, we will be sure that each course taken has an approved Course Equivalent Request.  Once all courses have been verified, the Enrollment Specialist Advisor will send you an email stating that you can select courses for the COVID-19 grading option through your MyStudyAbroad account.  You will have 8 days from receipt of the email to do so. 

What if I elected to take a class Pass/Fail through MyStudyAbroad at the beginning of the semester?

Any student who previously requested a pass/fail grading basis will have that pass/fail option reverted to the original grading basis for the course (most likely A-F).  Students will be able to choose to convert the grade they receive to COVID-19 grades during the conversion window. This allows all students, including those who opted for pass/fail at the beginning of the term, to benefit from the unique, spring 2020 policy and adjusted rules.

Students on programs sponsored by the College of Engineering will receive COVID-19 grades for courses taken abroad unless they are fulfilling degree requirements for a non-engineering major or certificate. Courses fulfilling degree requirements for a non-engineering major or certificate can be taken for a letter grade or a COVID-19 grade.

Should I request pass/fail at my host institution?

No. Please do not request pass/fail grading at your host institution and continue to receive letter grades. If you have been informed that your institution is changing their grading please notify your Enrollment Specialist Advisor.

What if my host institution has moved to a pass/fail only grading system for this semester?

We know that some host institutions have moved to an all campus grading system of pass/fail and are not issuing letter grades.  If this is the case for your host institution, a pass will be processed as a Satisfactory Disruptive (SD) and a fail will be processed as an Unsatisfactory Disruptive (UD).

Summer 2020 Programs

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Can I still enroll in coursework at UW-Madison?

If you have concerns regarding your academic plan in relation to the cancellation of your study abroad program, please contact your academic advisor to discuss your options.

We encourage all students to look at UW-Madison’s Summer Term offerings as an option to earn credits and stay on track for graduation.  Taking accelerated Summer Term courses can help you lighten your load in the fall and spring semesters and possibly help with making time in your calendar for a different study abroad opportunity in the future.

Financial support is available to help pay for the cost of Summer Term tuition.

Virtual summer language instruction is also available through the Wisconsin Intensive Summer Language Institutes.

Financial

Spring 2020 Programs

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Will my program fee be refunded?

Refund policies are outlined on the cost sheet for your program in your UW-Madison MyStudyAbroad portal.

  • If a program is canceled and academic credit cannot be awarded, the IAP Program Fee is refunded in full.
  • If a program is canceled and you can receive academic credit either in person or via distance learning, no refund of the IAP Program Fee is provided.

In both cases, non-IAP Program Fees (out of pocket expenses) are the responsibility of the student.

For students who can receive academic credit for the program, IAP will continue to work with the program provider/host to seek any recoverable costs (unused housing, excursions, etc) that were part of the program fee. All recoverable costs will be passed on to the student in full.  This process is ongoing and takes time.  As soon as we hear back from a provider that there are recoverable costs, we will reach out to the student and post the amount on the student’s account. Credits for unused CISI insurance premiums are also being posted to the student’s account.

Will I be refunded for housing in my host country?

If your housing was billed as part of your program fee and academic credit is being offered through distance learning, we will follow up with our program providers/host universities to see if there could be any recoverable costs, such as unused housing. If there are and they refund to us, that will fully be refunded to the student.

Independent housing (housing that is not included in the program fee) is considered an out-of-pocket expenses and will not be refunded by UW Study Abroad. Students are responsible for their lease and communicating with their landlord in their host country.

What about my return flight?

Flights are considered out-of-pocket expenses and will not be refunded by UW Study Abroad. Students are responsible for arranging their travel to their home of record.

If you need financial assistance paying for a return flight, UW Study Abroad can assist with this process and have the charge billed to your account. If this is an option you would like to pursue, please email your Financial Specialist.

Additional financial resources

For students experiencing financial hardship, the Office of Student Financial Aid has a team of people ready to help connect you to financial and other resources. Their emergency request form can be found at: financialaid.wisc.edu/emergency-assistance-form

Summer 2020 Programs

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Will my program confirmation deposit be refunded?

Yes, students who have paid their program confirmation deposit will be refunded by the end of day on March 27. Refunds will be applied to either your student account or credit card depending on whether you paid by check or credit card.

Will my program fee be refunded?

Program fees were not yet charged to summer students and will not be charged to accounts in the future.

What happens to my scholarships and financial aid?

Any UW Study Abroad scholarships offered for your program will be rescinded. Scholarships cannot be retained to use on a future study abroad program. You will need to reapply for the scholarship when you apply for a future program.

Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Financial Aid to determine how your program cancellation will affect your scholarships and financial aid awards.

Travel

Spring 2020 Programs

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When do I need to return home?

You should return home as soon as possible (no later than Sunday, March 22nd, 2020).

Can I stay in my host country?

Our directive remains that you should return to your home of record, as it is in the best interest of your health and safety.

If you do not follow this direction, please be advised of the following:

You have been asked by UW-Madison to return to your home of record due to the evolving situation of COVID-19. If you decide, independent of the university’s direction, to travel to other locations not associated with, sponsored, or supported by UW-Madison, you acknowledge that you are leaving the programming oversight of UW-Madison and your host program abroad, and any implied responsibility accepted by them previously, associated with your enrollment as a student abroad. Your travel is undertaken as an independent citizen and is not part of any continuing study online or directed study associated with your enrollment as a UW-Madison student. The university will no longer be a point of contact point for you for any travel issues encountered and is not responsible for making arrangements for your personal travel. 

What should I do to prepare for leaving my program?

Here are some things to think about as you prepare to depart your host country:

  • Be in touch with local staff to see what specific information or guidance they may have for you
  • Pack all your belongings; if you are currently traveling, return to your host site to pick up your belongings
  • Notify landlords
  • Close local bank accounts, if applicable
  • Cancel any national insurance policy (not CISI)
  • Cancel any electricity, internet, or other subscription plans
  • Cancel any in-country cell phone plans; contact US phone provider about re-establishing service upon your return

I'm having difficulty rebooking my flight. What can I do?

If you are unable to purchase a ticket home or rebook an existing ticket, we will be able to assist with purchasing the ticket and having it billed to your student account.

Step 1
Do some online research on your flight path and itinerary options. The flight must be an economy fare.  (Note, you do not need to book a basic economy fare as those have luggage restrictions.)

Step 2
Once you have determined the flight itinerary you would like to take, call Fox World Travel at +1-920-482-6790 to make your reservation with an agent. Be prepared with your passport. The agent will need passport details and your birthdate in order to make your reservation. Changes to this information cannot be made after booking.

Step 3
Once you have reserved the flight, inform the Fox World Travel agent that they should forward the itinerary by e-mail to abroad@studyabroad.wisc.edu.  We will pay for your flight and will work to put the charges on your student account.

I’ve booked my flight home, now what?

Please update your UW-Madison MyStudyAbroad portal with your return travel plans as soon as possible.  We have removed your initial travel details and ask that you please insert your new return plans for our records.

What should I do now that I’ve returned to my home of record?

Please update your UW-Madison MyStudyAbroad portal to indicate you have returned home.

  • Login to MyStudyAbroad portal
  • Click on the Acceptance Tasks tile
  • Navigate to My Travel Itinerary – Return
  • Select “I am already home” checkbox

UW-Madison has provided guidance on self-quarantine after returning from international travel.

Summer 2020 Programs

Not applicable

Health

Spring 2020 Programs

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Will I still be covered by my CISI insurance?

When travel is suspended to a specific country, we are required to end CISI coverage as well.

CISI coverage will end on March 22. 

You are able to add an additional 30 days for personal travel through your MyCISI portal.

Do I need to self-quarantine after returning home from international travel?

UW-Madison has provided guidance on self-quarantine after returning from international travel.

Summer 2020 Programs

Not applicable