Dear Students, Dear Families, Dear Administrators,

Spring semester is coming up soon, in a moment of unprecedented challenges for all of us. Our abilities to respond, be flexible and adapt to unknown and dramatic circumstances have been put to a hard test by the Covid-19 outbreak. This situation deeply challenged everything we used to give for granted. Uncertainty is a feeling that has been with us for many months now and resilience has been – and still is – the keyword that will help us come out of this crisis in a positive way.

From our point of view – that of a Liberal and Performing Arts school located in the heart of Florence – and aware of our privileged role as educators working with young adults from all over the world, we believe that this crisis also represents an opportunity, as it clearly showed how globally connected we all are, how we are all part of the same context and responsible for one another. We learned that the response to this global crisis cannot be individual, but only collective.

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 their eyes and mind to different ways of life. Here at AEF, we believe that this unexpected situation is an extraordinary occasion 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.

Students have always been at the center of the educational process, as they are guided and supported by our faculty, staff and also by our local community. The crisis caused by the Covid-19 is clearly showing how each and every one of us has to do their part to build a successful experience, at the end of which everyone involved will feel richer. We have always invited our students not to think themselves as tourists but 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 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.

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.
We will now try to answer all of your questions about how the semester is going to be like, but if you have further questions or doubts, do not hesitate to contact us: we’ll be happy to answer!

Will students have to be tested upon arrival in Italy?
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 arrange a meal delivery service at the apartments.

What happens if a student tests positive upon arrival?
Students who test positive will be taken care of by the Regional Health System. They will be isolated until they recover, daily monitored by doctors and supported by AEF staff for any further needs.

Do students have to take public transportation to go to class?
In Florence, everything is within walking distance. Its medium size and large pedestrian area make it the perfect city to walk everywhere. Palazzo Niccolini, the AEF building, is located at 37, via Cavour, just a few steps away from the Duomo and all the main monuments. AEF apartments are all located at max. 20-minute walk from the school, so students won’t have to take public transportation to get to the AEF building.

How will classes be held?
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 in case of good weather, and classrooms will always be ventilated between each class;
  • At the end of class and in between classes, students will be required to orderly exit the building and avoid gatherings in the hallways and common areas (toilets, entrance, hallways, stairs, front-desk area, etc.).
How will lectures and activities outside of the school premises be arranged?
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.

What happens if a student tests positive during the semester?
In case 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.

What are the housing rules?
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.

Will students be able to travel on their own during the semester?
We know that one of the reasons why students want to study abroad is the opportunity for them 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.

Cancellation Policy

In case of withdrawal from the program prior January 20th, AEF will refund:
100% of Academic fees and Program fees 
100% of AEF Program recoverable costs
100% of Housing fees.

In case of withdrawal from the program between January 21st and February 3rd, AEF will refund:
50% of Academic fees and Program fees
80% of Housing fees.

In case of cancellation due to Covid-19* between January 21st and February 3rd, AEF will refund:
1. If students participate in AEF on-line courses, AEF will refund:
100% AEF of Program recoverable costs
80% of Housing fees.
2. If students don't participate in AEF on-line courses, AEF will refund:
100% of Academic and Program fees
AEF Program recoverable costs
80% Housing fees.

In case of cancellation due to Covid-19* after February 4th, AEF will refund:
AEF Program recoverable costs
AEF Housing recoverable costs.

*in the event of Italian Government, United States CDC or State Department travel advisory levels of 3 or 4 respectively, and the suspension of a program before the expected end date