COVID-19 & Participate Learning

Updates and resources about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) to keep you informed.

Last updated June 16, 2020

The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation 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. Don’t hesitate to reach out to​ with questions or concerns.


For returning ambassador teachers, click here for pertinent information.

Incoming ambassador teachers for the 2020-21 school year


For the 2020-21 school year each school district will be responsible for implementing its own plans to follow the guidance from federal, state and local authorities on resuming in-person classes as such guidance becomes available. In addition to the possibility of future phases of virtual learning, we anticipate that there could be changes or additional responsibilities relating to student and staff health, safety, or hygiene. While there remains a great deal of uncertainty, we want to make you aware of these possibilities. 

NC Guidelines

VA Guidelines

SC Guidelines


Travel to the U.S.

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. 

Returning Ambassador Teachers

The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation 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. Don’t hesitate to reach out to​ with questions or concerns.


Travel Concerns

Please read: Ambassador teachers completing the 2019-20 school year
Given this year’s unique circumstances, Participate Learning strongly recommends that renewing teachers remain in the U.S. over the summer. Remember that teachers do not need to return home to renew visas or passports, even if you are a third term teacher!

Travel restrictions remain in effect in several countries and may be extended. Additional quarantine restrictions upon re-entry to your country or to the U.S. could prevent you from, not only enjoying your vacation, but also from returning to work on time, which could jeopardize your position and visa status.

Additionally, it is likely that school districts will publish new school calendars in a few weeks that account for a potentially shortened school year for 2019-20 which may also mean that the 2020-21 school could start several weeks earlier than usual. Until these schedules are finalized, and travel restrictions are significantly eased, we advise that you avoid all non-essential travel. (Note that North Carolina schools on a traditional school calendar can now begin school for students as early as August 17th, with teacher workdays beforehand.)

If an exceptional circumstance requires that you travel, please contact your principal as well as Teacher Resources​ immediately. IMPORTANT: Per Department of State regulations, teachers must notify their program sponsor, Participate Learning, of all travel plans.

Given ongoing travel restrictions and the limited availability of flights, we strongly recommend that you contact your respective embassy before booking return flights home as needed. You may find it helpful to register with your country’s embassy and subscribe to updates to stay informed about any support they may be providing during the current crisis.


General response and information

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the leading national public health institute of the United States, and is a primary resource for credible, in-depth information about the spread of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Click here for the summary index of information from the CDC about COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Click here for basic protective measures and public safety advice during the current outbreak.

Each state will have its own response and recommendations to the COVID-19 outbreak based on severity and reported infections. A State of Emergency is usually declared as a way to help agencies coordinate response, and it makes it easier to purchase needed medical supplies. It also protects consumers from price gouging, and increases county health departments’ access to state funds. Click each of the links below for individual state pages created in response to COVID-19.

Concerns about finances

A common question we hear is, will teachers still be paid? Ambassador teachers with Participate Learning are considered state employees, and as such, should be compensated in the same manner as their American counterparts. Many districts are transitioning to online learning while still continuing to pay their teachers. We recognize that this is an unprecedented situation and will continue to monitor any impact on our teachers. In the meantime, please refer to your district HR regarding pay and let us know if you have any doubts or questions.


IRS Update

Some ambassador teachers have reported receiving a 2020 Recovery Rebate in the amount of $1200, distributed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” or the “CARES Act.”
Exchange visitors have to meet the IRS definition of “resident alien” to be eligible to receive these funds. Grossly simplified, exchange visitors cannot begin to accumulate the time in the United States required to become a “resident alien” until they have been present in the country for at least two years. However, if you filed your tax return on the wrong form, then you may have mistakenly received the Recovery Rebate anyway.  


The IRS provides a number of interactive tax tools that can assist interested individuals in determining eligibility to file taxes and on what form​; please see the links below. 


The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs is maintaining communication with the IRS to provide further guidance on next steps exchange visitors can take regarding this matter and we will update accordingly. We also recommend that you consult a tax professional if you have any questions If you feel that you received the stimulus payment in error, this page provides information on how to repay the IRS.


Additional Information

Health benefit information
Testing and treatment for COVID-19 is covered under the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan for all ambassador teachers with Participate Learning and their J-2 dependents, minus any necessary copayments for doctor visits. Self-monitor and if you think you need to be tested, call your primary care doctor. This applies to teachers in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina.


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.


Through our health insurance provider, BCBS, we are currently covering the costs of treatment for all members of our health plan who are diagnosed with COVID-19. This includes testing, deductibles, copayments and coinsurance.
During this unprecedented time, we want to ensure you and your dependents have access to COVID-19 care and treatment should you need it. As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, please reach out to us at


Access health benefit resources here.


Connect to each other

Our United We Teach Community of Practice is full of resources and opportunities for connection with other educators. We encourage you to join in, comment on a discussion thread, and browse resources as you continue remote teaching for your students.


Beware of Scams

There are a variety of phishing scams that are taking advantage of fear surrounding COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission, a US government agency that advocates for consumer protection, has specific tips to keep you from falling prey to these 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. 


Student privacy and social media

Remember when using social media that you must have written permission from parents before posting images of your students to social media or any public website. Ensure you have this permission before posting photos or full names of your students online.

Download previous messages from Participate Learning through the links below.

Questions or concerns?

Please reach out to us at any time at ​​.

Access other resources and support ​here​.