COVID-19 and Participate Learning
Updates and resources about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to keep you informed
Last updated April 29, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic is dynamic and changing daily. What isn’t changing is our commitment to your health, safety, and welfare. This page contains the latest guidance from Participate Learning as your J1 sponsor. Please check this page frequently for updates, as the situation continues to evolve. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Follow the link below for the information most relevant to your situation:
As the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines continues, vaccines will become increasingly available to U.S. teachers. Currently, the vaccine is not required to enter the U.S. This is also not a current requirement by school districts or by Participate Learning. However, we strongly encourage all of our teachers, as essential workers, to receive the vaccine as soon as it’s available. As always, we ask that you bring copies of vaccination records for yourself and any dependent when you travel to begin teaching in the U.S.
State vaccination resources
Planning ahead for summer travel
We continue to recommend that teachers avoid international travel during the course of the school year. Primarily, we discourage travel to avoid unnecessary exposure risk for COVID-19 to yourself or family members, but travel is also discouraged because of the complexity of travel restrictions, embassy closures, and extensive delays in visa appointments.
While some aspects of international travel have improved over the last several months, there are still many considerations. For those who are fully vaccinated and prefer to travel this summer, please prepare accordingly, allowing sufficient time for testing and restrictions for yourself and any family members:
- In particular, please note that travelers from the UK, China, Brazil, South Africa, the European Schengen region, and the Republic of Ireland are currently prohibited from entering the U.S. unless they have been outside any of the countries mentioned above for at least 14 days.
- NEW: Requirement for proof of a negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States. In order to enter the U.S., all travelers will be required to provide a negative test result. Please read the CDC requirements above and also note that some locations may not have readily available testing sites and/or may be costly. All arrangements should be made prior to departing the U.S. to ensure smooth re-entry.
- Extensions: Teachers who need an updated visa sticker for their passport (that is, teachers who were recently granted an extension or who have not yet traveled home upon receiving an extension) should attempt to make a visa appointment at your home country embassy before traveling outside of the U.S. However, it is not necessary to leave the U.S. for this sole purpose, as your status is valid as long as you remain in the U.S., and we anticipate the backlog of visa appointments to complicate any travel plans. Remember that your DS-2019 form must be signed and dated within the last 12 months. Visa appointment wait times may be significantly longer than usual, and you should pay your visa fee and make your appointment before you travel. Participate Learning does not have any authority over visa appointment availability and if you are unable to renew your visa for return travel we are required to end your program. Please note that B (tourist) visas are NOT acceptable for return travel as your B visa does not allow work.
If you are considering traveling and are not from one of the countries prohibited entry to the U.S., please review the following checklist and contact email@example.com to discuss your situation.
- Review the negative COVID-19 test requirement, and make necessary arrangements before traveling.
- Confirm the travel/entry requirements for your location and any related quarantines
- Discuss your plans with your family to avoid unnecessary risk for you or anyone in your family.
- Travel with all necessary documents (valid passport, DS-2019, valid visa sticker).
- Observe any local restrictions while visiting other countries.
- Reference your home country embassy website as a resource.
- After re-entry to the U.S., remember to follow CDC guidance and local restrictions for your own safety and the safety of others.
- Refer back to these sites frequently before your travel dates, as restrictions may change suddenly.
- Keep Participate Learning and your principal informed of any issues that may arise, especially anything that prevents you from returning to work as originally planned.
- Note that remote work from your home country is not permitted by J visa regulations.
Current ambassador teachers
Each state will have its own response and recommendations to the COVID-19 outbreak based on severity and reported infections. Click each of the links below for individual state pages created in response to COVID-19.
- NC Department of Health and Human Services – Latest Updates
- SC Health and Environmental Control resources
- VA Department of Health resources
Beware of Scams
The Federal Trade Commission, a U.S. government agency that advocates for consumer protection, has specific tips to keep you from falling prey to coronavirus-related scams. The FTC encourages you to be cautious when clicking links from sources you don’t know, be wary of emails that claim to be from government entities with information about the virus, and do your homework when making donations or searching for products claiming to protect you from coronavirus.
Steps to follow if you think you or a household member have been exposed to COVID-19
- Get tested to confirm a current infection. Results are most accurate 5 days after symptoms develop or from last contact with an infected person.
- Contact your principal and inform them of a suspected illness.
- Self-quarantine at home pending test results and monitor your symptoms.
- Separate yourself from other people in your household as much as possible, and wear a mask if you need to be around others in or outside of the home.
- Tell your close contacts that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
- Follow the advice of your healthcare provider.
- Contact Teacher Resources if you test positive or if you need any help.
Health benefit information
Testing and treatment for COVID-19 is covered under the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for all current ambassador teachers and their J-2 dependents, minus any necessary copayments for doctor visits. This includes testing, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. Self-monitor and if you think you need to be tested, call your primary care doctor.
You can also access your Participate Learning benefits digest (linked below) for a summary of your coverage. MD Live telemedicine is a great way to get virtual care at no cost to you. Visit the BCBS NC MD Live website (linked below) and download the app so it is ready if you need it. You will be prompted to indicate that your coverage is through an employer health plan, the Center for International Education.
Health benefit resources:
- COVID-19 Testing Information
- Find in-network providers with your BCBS Blue Value plan
- Benefits Digest – summary of coverage
- MD Live – Telemedicine website
- Download our guide to setting up your MD Live account if you are unfamiliar with telemedicine.
Incoming ambassador teacher information
By its nature, international travel and relocating to different living and working environments may increase your exposure to the virus or other risks. Consider your individual circumstances as you prepare to relocate to the U.S. If you have concerns about your health or have any underlying conditions that could increase your risk, we recommend you consult a healthcare provider before finalizing any travel plans. Contact your admissions specialist if you have questions or if you need to change your plans at any point.
For the 2021-22 school year, we anticipate schools to be open for in-person learning. Each school district will be responsible for implementing its own plans to follow the guidance from federal, state, and local authorities regarding student and staff health, safety, or hygiene.
We will make general information available on this website for your planning purposes, but you will need to refer to the specific guidelines from your host school district for your individual circumstance. Below are the current guidelines by state.
As you plan your trip to the U.S. you may need to consider where and when you will receive a vaccine if you have not yet been immunized. We recommend that teachers who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in their home countries consult with their doctor and get their vaccines as soon as possible to reduce the risk of infection during international travel. You should also bring related medical documentation with you to the U.S. If you will not have access to a vaccine prior to your arrival, you may be eligible to receive a vaccine in the U.S. Currently vaccines are available for anyone 16 years and older.
If you are receiving a two-dose vaccine and are unsure of the timing, please consult your doctor to make an informed decision. You can learn more about the types of vaccines that are available in the U.S. from the Center for Disease Control.
Travel to the U.S.
Requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States. In order to enter the U.S. all travelers will be required to provide a negative test result. Our Orientation team will coordinate with you when booking your travel.
We know that there are still many travel restrictions in effect. As embassies reopen and visas are issued, we will continue to monitor travel options and provide individual updates as needed.