BSME COVID-19 Return Plan

(Most recent update: February 26, 2021)

This document is prepared in anticipation of returning to in-person learning for the Fall 2021 semester. We are working with many unknowns and encourage everyone to remain as flexible as possible during this time. The BSME Directors are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Budapest, in Europe, and in the United States. The BSME in-person program will run only if there is confidence that we can do so safely and anticipate completion of the semester in-person and in-country. Once students arrive in Budapest, they are bound by their commitment to the Community Contract for COVID-19 Safety.

Where possible, we encourage all students, faculty, and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We recognize that this might not be possible for all persons. Although some participants may be vaccinated, the policies and procedures below as part of the Community Contract for COVID-19 Safety apply to all BSME participants.

Pre-Arrival Planning

International travel and visa requirements are expected to continue to change. Please pay attention to any changes in restrictions or requirements that may affect your entry into Hungary. Obtaining appropriate visas in advance and arranging travel are the responsibility of the student. Any associated expenses are the responsibility of the student.

The academic calendar will be finalized at least 90 days before the first day of the program.

All tuition and fees will be refunded if the program is cancelled before the first day of the program. All tuition and fees (less deposit) will be refunded if a student withdraws from the program before the first day of the program. Students who withdraw from the program should notify the BSME North American Office prior to the first day of the program. Complete withdrawal policy can be found here.

Travel expenses are the full responsibility of the student. We encourage students to delay making travel arrangements until 60 days prior to the first day of the program. Please consider purchasing refundable airline tickets. For the Fall 2021 semester and during increased travel regulations, BSME students are required to make travel arrangements through our travel agent (Angie Ohmes: https://www.goldencruiseandtravel.com/). BSME will cover the associated agent booking fee. Flights and associated travel fees remain the responsibility of the student. Compliance with COVID related travel requirements and flight change policies of the airline are the responsibility of the student.

After acceptance to the program, students will be notified by the BSME North American Office with updates, requirements, and travel recommendations. Participation in an online pre-departure orientation is required for each student. As part of this orientation, you will receive updated COVID related policies and travel considerations.

All students are required to carry health insurance. Proof of insurance is required for participation in BSME. Supplemental travel insurance can be obtained at the discretion of the student. The BSME Budapest Office will coordinate health care with English speaking providers. Students seeking care should contact the BSME Student Coordinator.

Housing

BSME students are housed in BSME approved 2-3-4 bedroom apartments. Although students share apartments, each student has their own bedroom. If a student is experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, they are to report their symptoms to the Student Coordinator and remain isolated in their room/apartment until a COVID-19 test can be administered or is deemed unnecessary. In the case a student tests positive for COVID-19, arrangements will be made for a hotel room for the requisite quarantine/isolation period until one is no longer a transmission risk. Any additional expense for such arrangements will be the responsibility of the program.

While in the shared spaces of their apartment, flatmates are expected to be masked and follow social distancing protocols to limit possible transmission of COVID-19. It is the responsibility of the students to properly clean and sanitize shared spaces to further limit transmission of COVID-19. Students who have been identified as close-contacts of positive COVID-19 cases will be required to isolate and participate in classes remotely until they test negative for COVID-19.

All BSME apartments and quarantine hotels have reliable Wi-Fi that will allow for remote participation in programming if required.

COVID-testing and arrival procedure

Proof of vaccination or a negative PCR COVID test no more than 72 hours prior to departure is required for program participation. Any expenses related to vaccination or testing are the responsibility of the student. Proof of vaccine or the negative test should be sent to the BSME North American Office prior to departure.

Once a student arrives in Budapest, there will be a 7-day “soft quarantine” period. Students will be expected to stay in their apartment except to exercise, run essential errands, and purchase food or other essentials. While in the shared spaces of their apartment, flatmates are expected to be masked and follow social distancing protocols to limit possible transmission of COVID-19. During this 7-day period, it is expected that students will have no “close contacts” – i.e., any maskless contact with an individual of less than 6 ft.

Once a student has been in-country for 7 days and been free of any close contacts, a PCR test will be administered. A negative test result to this in-country COVID test is required for a student to participate in the in-person BSME programming. In-country testing is provided to students at the expense of the BSME program.

During the initial quarantine period, students will be required to participate in a Hungarian orientation course and will also have the option of participating in remote language learning.

Semester Breaks, Personal Travel, and Visitors

Students embark in personal travel at their own risk and expense. Considerations before travel should include the potential for increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 because of travel, the risk of being denied entry/return into a country, and the financial and academic consequences of being stuck in another country during COVID-19. Prior to any travel, students are required to inform the Student Coordinator and provide contact information (cell phone, email, Facebook, etc.) where they will be accessible for the duration of travel.

Please note that the academic calendar may be adjusted to limit breaks during the term.

During COVID-19, no visitors are permitted in the BSME Building or BSME apartments. We strongly encourage students to limit travel and any contact with visitors from outside of the program.

COVID-19 Pre-Departure Testing (December)

Prior to departure from Budapest, students will be provided with access to COVID-19 tests as required by airlines and home countries. Students are encouraged to be particularly diligent in their mask wearing and social distancing in the final weeks of the program, as a positive COVID-19 test may delay travel and students could incur additional costs associated with hotel stays and flight changes. Travel related costs are the responsibility of the student.

Building and Classroom Safety

While in the classroom building, students are required to wear masks and maintain 6 ft of distance. Classrooms and common spaces will be cleaned and sanitized. Additional sanitizing wipes will be available to students upon request.

Symptom Monitoring

It is the responsibility of students to closely monitor COVID related symptoms and report any symptoms to the Student Coordinator. Students who are experiencing symptoms are required to self-isolate and participate in classes remotely until they receive a COVID test. Students who test positive will be moved to hotel isolation where they will be monitored, provided food, and can participate in coursework until no longer a transmission risk.

General COVID Procedures

The BSME Budapest Office will monitor COVID-19 cases within (1) the BSME program, (2) the classroom building, (3) Budapest, and (4) Hungary. Students will be notified via email of any relevant updates to the local COVID-19 situation.

Students and staff are required to report COVID-related symptoms to the Student Coordinator. Symptoms will be monitored, contact tracing conducted, and tests provided as appropriate.

In the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case at BSME, students will be notified if they have been in close contact with the case and a COVID test will be required.

Students are required to follow all local and national regulations. This may include closing of classroom buildings, local curfew or lockdown, or national evacuation. The Student Coordinator will share necessary information and updates via email.

On-line Learning

Students who are in isolation/quarantine are able to participate in course work remotely. Class lectures will be recorded and shared. All BSME apartments and negotiated hotel quarantine locations have Wi-Fi that supports online engagement.

Should the national or local government initiate a short-term lockdown in response to a COVID-19 case spike, all BSME courses will move to online with students participating in-country.

In the event that COVID-19 cases spike and travel restrictions are activated such that students need to evacuate, the Student Coordinator will work with students to return home. Courses will transition to online from home school / home country.

Training of Faculty, Staff, and Students

The Hungarian Director will provide faculty and staff training on BSME COVID policies and procedures before the start of the program. Students will receive COVID training as part of both the required pre-departure orientation and arrival orientation.