Update on COVID-19, Traveler Safety, and 2021-2022 Programming

Update on COVID-19, Traveler Safety, and 2021-2022 Programming

UPDATED: June 15, 2021

  • 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. 

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 2021, including program cancellations and info on future programs. Over the last year and several months the current global outbreak situation has been unprecedented and unpredictable. There are changes and new restrictions being announced around the world every day, and while we are optimistic about the global reopening we are still anticipating continuous border closures in some regions. 

We are carefully monitoring the US Government advisements, the news, as well as information from our participants and partners.  

For Travelers Already Abroad

At the time of this writing, High School Abroad programs have not been affected by COVID-19 cases. Local staff and host families are instructed to follow any government instructions and protocol to maintain the safest program possible. Please remember to follow CDC and government guidelines for vaccinated and also unvaccinated individuals, such as maintaining at least 6 feet of distance, wearing a mask, and washing your hands.  

While in most destinations there are now partial lockdown orders, intermittent online or hybrid schooling, and city curfews, these restrictions are currently not affecting our students day-to-day activities. Greenheart Travel and our in-country partners are keeping a close eye on the number of COVID-19 cases affecting Europe and any restrictions being put in place.  

Please refer to the COVID-19 Conditions Addendum you signed prior to departing for further information on contingency plans. 

For Travelers Signed Up for Future Start Dates

As of writing this post, U.S. citizens are currently prohibited from entering some parts of the E.U., Japan, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia as tourists. This means that our volunteer-based Teaching Programs, Work Abroad Programs and High School Abroad trimester programs in those destinations are still unable to run until these restrictions lift. The government policy in each destination changes frequently, so please continue to monitor our website for any updates, including start dates.  

While the President of the European Commission announced in late April that the E.U. will open for vaccinated U.S. citizens this summer, there have been no clear indications for all the EU countries of when those policy changes will go into effect, and individual member states hold the right to continue to enforce stricter entry restrictions.

Here are Greenheart Travel’s European destinations that have announced clear entry instructions: 

Here is a recent New York Times article with breakdowns of these new policies. We will shortly begin to accept applications for Teach English in a Homestay programs and Teen Language Camp programs in those destinations. 

As of the writing of this post, the only country we are able to run our Teach English in a Homestay program in is South Korea. Travelers to that destination are required to have a mandatory two-week quarantine upon arrival at their own expense prior to meeting their host families.

However, our applications are open and you can still apply for a program with a future start date. If you are signed up for a non-high school abroad program and are not able to enter your destination country on 6 weeks prior to your intended start date, please refer to the COVID-19 Cancellation and Refund Policy 

For our High School Abroad Programs in Europe, entry restrictions do not apply to high school abroad students applying for student visas (applies to semester and academic year programs). At the time of this update we are waiting government announcements in order to resume programs in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Argentina. We predict the borders will open for students in time for Spring 2022 programs in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Argentina. 

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 Interested in Summer 2021

If you are interested in signing up for a Summer 2021 program, we will keep you updated via email about program updates and entry restrictions as we have them.

At the current moment, the only teen destinations we are accepting applications for is Costa Rica, Italy, and Spain:

If you are not able to enter your destination country 6 weeks prior to your program start date, please refer to the COVID-19 Cancellation and Refund Policy.  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, 2021

We are also continuing to take applicants for programs after September 1, 2021. 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. 


At the time of this writing, our insurance will only cover vaccinated travelers, so you must be vaccinated in order to be enrolled in the insurance that is included in your program fee. If not, you will be required to purchase your own insurance policy. Greenheart Travel highly encourages our participants who are able to seek vaccinations as this is likely going become a requirement for entry to the majority of countries.

While vaccinations are just starting to roll out in the U.S. and our destination countries, there are currently no international standardization of vaccinations nor announcement of any required vaccinations prior to international travel. By the time our travelers’ programs will start, there is likely to be more movement and information surrounding COVID-19 vaccines and its implications for international travel, and we will keep you updated along the way. We are hopeful that the majority of the world will be vaccinated by Fall 2021, but we must be patient, so this means we cannot guarantee that people you interact with on program, such as host families, school colleagues or fellow students, will be vaccinated. At this stage, we feel that you should expect that your host community still be under some lockdown measures while you are abroad, and your host community may still be receiving vaccinations when you arrive.

Returning to the United States after your abroad program

Effective January 26, 2021, all travelers to the United States will be required to provide either a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within three calendar days of travel or provide a positive test result and documentation from a licensed health care provider or public health official of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel.  This COVID-19 test will not be covered by Greenheart Travel insurance, and Greenheart Travel will not responsible for any additional costs associated with flight changes, accommodation fees, or airport transfer fees incurred as a result of a positive COVID-19 test prior to departure.

Please thoroughly review the CDC’s FAQ regarding this requirement.

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 2021-2022 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!

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