STUDYING ABROAD IN A PANDEMIC: HEALTH AND SAFETY AT AEF
Updated on July,1st 2021
AEF was proud to resume on site classes as of Spring 2021, being one of the first institutions to welcome students back in Florence for a full semester. AEF has worked to create the safest environment for students, in compliance with the guidelines established by the Italian government, the Regione Toscana and the Comune di Firenze (national, regional and local level). We continue to monitor the current regulations, adjusting all necessary protocols and procedures so that the highest standards of health and safety are maintained in place throughout the programs.
Our goal is to offer students the most meaningful experience, even in the unprecedented context of a pandemic. The semester abroad is the global experience par excellence: since its origins, the reason that encouraged young people to travel was the opportunity to see new countries and cultures, understand new habits and languages, open one’s eyes and mind to different ways of life.
We believe that this situation is an extraordinary opportunity to embrace this experience to the fullest, understanding its deepest meaning: learning the language, the art, the history, the music while taking care of each other, developing cultural and human competences, and finally become real citizens of the world.
We have always invited our students not to think of themselves as tourists but rather as citizens of Florence. We renew our invitation even more powerfully now, in a moment when our city – symbol of the Renaissance – really becomes the place where a renaissance is possible. We will make it happen together, following some shared rules based on respect, flexibility, and responsibility.
Health and Safety Procedures and Covid-19 Risk Mitigation at AEF
Orientation starts before arrival in Florence, as a virtual tour will show students the school premises. Students will virtually visit Palazzo Niccolini, that is the AEF building, and meet AEF faculty and staff. AEF staff will give their full support to students in preparation for their departure.
Each orientation session will cover the Italian Government and Tuscan Region guidelines on Covid-19 safety and hygiene regulations.
Any updates regarding the regulations in force will be duly notified to students.
Arrival in Florence
Welcome! Your experience in the city of Renaissance has just started: Florence – with its streets, piazzas, and iconic beauty at every corner – will be your classroom, for a real immersion into Italian art and culture.
Situation in Italy
Classification of Regions
Italian Regions are classified into four areas - red, orange, yellow and white - corresponding to four risk scenarios, for which specific restrictive measures are foreseen.
RED AREA: Leaving your home is not permitted unless it is for work, health, or other first necessity reasons (i.e. grocery shopping); walking and running close to home is permitted. Travel is not allowed. Museums, theaters, cinemas, swimming pools, sports centers, gyms and ski resorts are closed. Hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons are closed. Shops are closed except for grocery stores, pharmacies, and other first necessity stores. Restaurants and bars are only open for take-away and delivery. All schools, from pre-school to university, suspend in-person classes.
ORANGE AREA: Travel is not allowed to other areas beyond the city limits. In case of urgency a self-certification form is required. Museums, theaters, cinemas, swimming pools, gyms and ski resorts are closed; non-contact outdoor sporting events are open. Shopping centers are closed on weekends. Restaurants and bars (cafés) are only open for take-away and delivery. Each region determines autonomously if and how to impose restrictions on in-person school classes.
YELLOW AREA: Traveling allowed within your region of residence (Tuscany). Swimming pools, gyms and ski resorts are closed. Non-contact outdoor sporting events are open. Theaters and cinemas may open as of March 27 with an audience of no more than 25% of typical capacity (max 200 inside, max 400 outside). Museums are open from Monday to Friday, with the exception of public holidays (reservations are highly recommended). Shopping centers are closed on weekends. At restaurants and bars (cafés), consumption at the table is allowed for a maximum of four people per table. Each region determines autonomously if and how to impose restrictions on in-person school classes.
WHITE AREA: (contagion level <50 positive cases for every 100,000 inhabitants) No additional restrictions beyond the following: correct wearing of PPE, respect of social distancing, no events/openings that lead to gatherings.
As of June 28th, all Italy is classified white.
Entry from the countries of the European Union and the Schengen Area, Japan, Canada and the United States of America
As of June 2021, the Ministry of Health has provided for the use of the Covid-19 Green Certificate for entry into Italy from countries of the European Union and from Japan, Canada and the United States of America.
Under Italian law, travel to and from these countries is permitted without the need for a specific reason.
The legislation provides that travelers entering Italy are required to:
- present the COVID-19 Green Certificate showing:
- that they have completed the prescribed anti-SARS-CoV-2 vaccination cycle at least 14 days prior to their arrival;
- that thay have recovered from COVID-19 (the certificate of recovery is valid for 180 days from the date of the first positive swab);
- that they have taken a negative molecular or antigen swab test in the 48 hours prior to entering Italy.
- fill in the Digital Passenger Locator Form before entering Italy.
The certification of successful completion of the vaccination cycle must relate to one of the four vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency: Comirnaty from Pfizer-BioNtech, Moderna, Vaxzevria, Jansen (Johnson & Johnson).
Certificates must be submitted in one of the following languages: Italian, English, French or Spanish. U.S.A. citizens can prove this via the "white card" bearing a CDC logo.
AEF Student Services office can be reached via telephone and email during office hours. Students who wish to meet AEF Advisors are requested to make an appointment.
AEF Emergency Phone is available 24/7 outside of office hours.
All updates about Covid-19 current regulations will be sent via email to students and the Student Services Office is at their disposal for any further information or clarification the students may need.
We will now try to answer all of your questions about how the semester will take place, but if you have further questions or doubts, do not hesitate to contact us: we’ll be happy to answer!
At the moment, the Tuscan Region – the local authority in charge for Health – provides tests in train stations and airports only to people who request one. Once being tested, it will be necessary to wait in isolation at one’s apartment for the following 48 hours. During this time, AEF will offer support in organizing meal delivery service to the apartments.
AEF will follow the Italian government rules, applied in both public and private education system:
- Staggered entrance times to avoid gatherings;
- Temperature will not be taken by AEF staff at the entrance, but students are invited to bring a thermometer with them and measure their temperature if need be. It is extremely important not to go to school in case of a fever or any flu symptoms. In this case, students will have to contact the AEF staff, who will immediately call the doctor so that the Tuscan Region can start the health procedure to evaluate the case.
- In classrooms, students seats will be spaced at 1 meter apart (3.3 ft);
- It is not mandatory to wear a mask when students are seated at their desk or chair, but it is mandatory to wear it any time they move within the school premises;
- Students are strongly encouraged to frequently wash their hands and apply hand sanitizer that will be available at school;
- Students and faculty are required to sanitize their seating at the beginning and at the end of each class;
- Natural outside air ventilation is another key factor for safety in the classrooms: windows will be kept open weather-permitting, and classrooms will always be ventilated between each class;
- At the end of class and in between classes, students will be required to exit the building in an orderly fashion, and avoid gatherings in the hallways and common areas (toilets, entrance, hallways, stairs, front-desk area, etc.).
Florence is not only the city where AEF is located, but it is a real classroom for many activities and lectures of our program. For lectures held on-site and museums visits, AEF will apply the Italian government rules in force. The same rules will be applied during field trips.
In the case that a student tests positive during the semester, the Tuscan Region Health Protocol will be applied. The student will contact AEF staff, AEF staff will contact the doctor in charge, who will evaluate the patient’s conditions and decide whether the patient should be isolated, treated and monitored by the Regional Health System. American University Programs that are part of AACUPI (Association of American College and University Programs in Italy) have recently signed an agreement with the Misericordia Health Centers and the Tuscan Region that guarantees an English-speaking physician to assist the students, who will also be responsible of a first evaluation of a Covid-19 case.The student will be able to continue attending classes online, from the apartment, and will be constantly assisted and supported by the AEF staff.
AEF students have always been housed in local apartments in the city center. This is a choice that encourages their integration with the local community, and their sense of responsibility in their everyday life in Florence.
During the Covid-19 emergency, AEF will only provide apartments with a maximum of 4 students each.
We know that one of the reasons why students want to study abroad is the opportunity to visit European capitals. In this specific case, it is more than essential that students behave responsibly: if you travel irresponsibly, you not only put yourself at risk, but all of the other students and the host community too. All program participants will be required to respect the Italian government and European Union rules on traveling and circulation between EU countries.