Update on COVID-19, Traveler Safety, and 2020 Programming

Update on COVID-19, Traveler Safety, and 2020 Programming

UPDATED: May 15, 2020 

  • This information is for Greenheart Travel programs OUTSIDE of the USA. If you are on a program in the USA or were planning to come to the USA, please refer to information from our inbound department, Greenheart Exchange.
  • Most of this information refers to Americans, US government regulations, and US-specific information because most of our participants are American. However, almost all of it can also be applied to your home country if you are from Canada, UK, etc. If you need specific information, please refer to the resources at the bottom of this page.

All current participants have already received or will receive a message and other important details regarding their program via email. 

Greenheart Travel’s #1 priority is our travelers’ safety, both before and during each traveler’s program. With the recent news surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, we wanted to take a moment to update you on our programming for 2020, including program cancellations and info on future programs. The current global outbreak situation is unprecedented and unpredictable. There are changes and new restrictions being announced around the world every day, and we anticipate additional border closings and mandatory quarantines in the coming days and weeks. 

We are carefully monitoring the US Government advisements, the news, as well as information from our participants and partners. As of writing time of this post: 

  • The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic 
  • As of March 23, 2020, The US Department of State has issued a Global Health Advisory – Level 4: Do Not Travel.
  • The CDC has issued Level 3 Travel Health Notices for Most of Europe, China, Iran, and South Korea. 
  • The United States has suspended travel from the European Union, China, and Iran for non-US citizens and residents. 
  •  The US government is temporarily suspending its inbound cultural exchange programs and is asking private sector programs to follow the same guidelines. 
  • Our partners in European countries are anticipating increased travel restrictions to limit movement and spread of the virus across borders. 
  •  Most schools in our program destinations are currently closed or expected to close soon 
  •  Some participants’ flights are being canceled by the airline and rescheduled for the Fall 
  •  Participants are having difficulty flying to and connecting through Asian destinations 
  •  Host families are undergoing hardships as a result of the breakout, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for many of them to continue hosting our participants. 

For Travelers Already Abroad

Statement and guidance provided on March 19th, 2020: We have reason to believe that the situation will only get worse in the coming weeks, and we want to ensure that we are being proactive to ensure the safety and the safe return home of our participants abroad.  We have, therefore, made the difficult decision to cancel all current programs and require all participants abroad to come home immediately. The US Department of State has also issued a Level 4 Do Not Travel Warning across the world that declares that ALL Americans are to return home immediately.

Please refer to the email sent to you for more guidance on returning home. We are here to support you as best we can, but many times the best and most up to date information comes directly from the US Department of State, so please refer to the resources at the bottom of this post for information about how to stay informed. 

While we, our partners, and our host families hoped to do everything we could to avoid disruptions of programs abroad, we must respond to the reality of the situation at hand. 

For Travelers Signed Up to Leave Before June 1, 2020 

We have also suspended all programs with start dates from Monday, March 16th through Sunday, May 31st. Anyone signed up to start a Greenheart Travel program will need to be deferred to a start date of June 1, 2020, or later. Please refer to our website for current start dates open later this year on your program. 

If you have questions or concerns regarding your program and these changes please respond to the email you received today from your program manager with this same information, or contact us at travelapplications@greenheart.org. 

For Travelers Signed Up to Leave Between June 1 – September 1, 2020 

If you are signed up for a summer 2020 program, we will keep you updated via email about program cancellations, deferrals to later start dates, etc. as we have them. Things are happening differently in each country, so specific program information will be provided to all travelers signed up to leave with us this summer. We are short-staffed and therefore we are not taking any new applicants for Summer 2020 programs so we can focus on those signed up already.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your program and these changes please respond to any email you received from your program manager or contact us at travelapplications@greenheart.org. 

For Travelers Signed Up or Considering Leaving After September 1, 2020

We are currently still taking new applicants for programs after September 1, 2020. Of course, this all depends on the situation as it unfolds. We are learning information about this virus and the situation just as you are, and things are changing rapidly and daily. At this point, it is difficult to predict how long travel advisories and other travel barriers will be in place. Greenheart Travel will continue to monitor the situation and make changes as necessary. Greenheart Travel is keeping a close eye on the situation and will suspend or defer program intakes if it is determined that it is not safe or possible to travel at that time. We will make a decision about whether a program will run 6 weeks before each program start date.

Please read our full COVID-19 cancellation and deferral policies here for all future programs, before signing up.

If you have questions or concerns regarding your program after September 1, 2020, please email your program manager, or contact us at travelapplications@greenheart.org.

A Message to Our Community

We want to take a minute to express our solidarity with the world community and thank you for your understanding in this difficult time. We are learning details and attempting to get information to you as quickly as possible, which is very difficult in such a rapidly fluid situation. As a small non-profit business, we also appreciate your understanding as we navigate our situation as well. Our participants have always been, and will remain, our number 1 priority. If we can help support you please let us know.

Additional Resources

20 thoughts on "Update on COVID-19, Traveler Safety, and 2020 Programming"

  1. Ryan Waldrop says:


    I hope everyone is having a great day! 🙂 I just wanted to share that I had a scheduled phone call appointment with Kara Menini at 07:40pm (Central European Time) on Thursday, June 11, 2020. I never received a phone call. I emailed Kara twice since then, and I haven’t received a response back. I just had some questions regarding the program. Have a great day!


    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Ryan! Kara is no longer working at Greenheart, so we’d be happy to help answer your questions if you email travelapplications@greenheart.org. Thanks for your patience!

  2. Ulf Dunberger says:

    Hello !
    First, I would like to know what your expectations are that a foreign student will be able to participate in High School exchange program in Madison County, NY (outside Syracuse) beginning in late August or early September 2020?
    Second, what are the prospects that the school will be open so that students are not getting their education remotely from home when the fall semester starts in late August or beginning September?
    Third, what are the prospects that students will be able to participate in sports programs and other extra curricular activities durng the upcoming school year?
    Thank you very much for your prompt reply !
    Kind regards,

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Ulf. This information is for Greenheart Travel programs OUTSIDE of the USA. If you have questions about planning to come to the USA as an exchange student, please refer to information from our inbound department, Greenheart Exchange: https://greenheart.org/blog/exchange/coronavirus-update/

  3. Tarik says:

    Dear Greenheart travel,
    If conditions were normal, I would have gone to America from Turkey on June 15. Is this date still valid under the current circumstances? What kind of solution can you offer if these conditions persist? There is a little time to take visa and buy ticket for programme, even though uncertainty continue and this situation worries me.
    Thanks, Tarik.

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Tarkik. This information is for Greenheart Travel programs OUTSIDE of the USA. If you are on a program in the USA or were planning to come to the USA, please refer to information from our inbound department, Greenheart Exchange: https://greenheart.org/blog/exchange/coronavirus-update/

  4. Mia says:


    I just had a question regarding the South Korea Language Camp on July 26. If I do sign up for it and the virus prevents me from going, is there a refund policy for this situation? And if my parents deem it unsafe for me to travel is there a refund policy for this situation? Thank you for your help!

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Mia! Please refer to our cancellation policies here: https://greenhearttravel.org/covid-19-cancellation-policies

  5. Bailey Porter says:

    So I was participating In a teach in a Homestay program in Spain. My program ended early as I am sure you know. I was in contact with my greenheart contact and was told she no longer works for greenheart. I was wondering if we would be getting a refund or partial refund due to the corona virus ending programs early?

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Bailey. It’s unfortunate you had to come home early, but you’re not alone, a lot of people had their programs cut short due to this unprecedented situation. Please email us to discuss your situation, you can respond to any emails you’ve gotten from us or your email new contact Allison Yates (ayates@greenheart.org). Thanks.

  6. Julia says:

    What happens to the exchange that starts with August? Currently everything is fine? Without any changes ?

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Currently, yes. We are still planning to run our August programs. We will continue to watch the situation and if this changes we will inform anyone signed up to leave later this year.

  7. Eoin Clarke says:


    Are the programs in Myanmar also suspended until further notice?

    Thank you

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Yes, we will not be sending anyone anywhere until at least June 1, 2020.

  8. Leighann Mattson says:

    Hello, I am currently in Thailand and was wondering what their risk level is right now and what you would advise I do? My contract is through May 29th and we just started digital classes, but my family is scared that the borders are going to be closed and I will get stuck here much longer than the end of May. What are your thoughts? Please let me know. Thank you!

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Leighann,

      We cannot comment on your risk level in Thailand specifically – as it’s changing and evolving super quickly, however, we are asking that everyone come home now, even from Thailand. We need to be proactive as we anticipate increasing travel restrictions, global border closings and mandatory quarantines for anyone traveling between any country in the very near future. Waiting much longer may mean that you may be unable to return home when you want to. It is possible that schools, restaurants, and hotels will be closed indefinitely if they are not already. There may be no work available, and the ability to move around freely could be severely limited. Airlines may shut down or continue to greatly reduce the number of flights available. We hope that you are able to understand this incredibly difficult decision. We know it is incredibly disappointing, and we assure you that we do not take this decision lightly. If you have questions about this please let us know.

      – Sara & Greenheart Travel

  9. Alexander Benedict says:

    Dear Greenheart Travel,
    Are there any updates on how the coronavirus crisis may effect TEFL certification courses in Prague, Czech Republic?

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Alex. All programs, including TEFL courses, are subject to our policies above. Any course before May 31 is now canceled and all current participants in Prague are to come home immediately. Any future courses with start dates after June 1 we will wait and see but we expect to hopefully still offer them depending on the situation and how it unfolds.

  10. Braxton Quelle says:

    To whom, it may concern
    Sorry to bother you, and I’m sure you’ve been receiving lots of emails. I was just concerned about our ability to get to Thailand for the program. We booked our flights a few weeks ago, and this morning received notice that they had been delayed till October 24th.

    The coronovirus link on greenheart’s website hasn’t been updated in the last 3 weeks. And a lot has changed. It says a refund will only be given if the program is cancelled and it will only be cancelled if there is a level 4 travel advisory. On the CDC website the current level is stated at 2 but on the travel.state.gov. website there is a global alert at 3. 

    Obviously neither of these are a four. My question is, if a level 4 alert is not issued but we cannot find passage to Thailand in time for the start date what will happen?

    Thanks for your help, I hope to hear from you soon
    Hope you are staying safe
    Braxton Quelle

    1. Sara Thacker says:

      Hi Braxton. We have updated our policy since you wrote this comment, so please see above. October is still quite a ways away – so at this point, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. We currently have every intention of offering our fall start dates. If there is still a Level 4 or flights to Thailand are canceled/impossible – we would cancel the program at that time. Please email Kara if you have further questions at kmenini@greenheart.org, I know she has already emailed you too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *