Earlier this week you may have seen the new directives issued for international students. In March, due to COVID-19, Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) relaxed some of the visa requirements for international students in response to the pandemic. ICE issued a policy allowing foreign students to attend all of their classes online while remaining in the US. The new directives suggest that international students would be required to return to their home countries if their college or university plans to offer exclusively online learning. This has already been challenged in court, and there is some confusion as to the application of this guideline if colleges move to virtual or hybrid course delivery in the middle of the semester, as Taylor did this spring.
To our international students, I want you to know that Taylor understands the anxiety and stress that this policy brings to you. International students have faced additional challenges due to COVID-19, and we will assist you in every possible way. You are vital and treasured members of the Taylor community and we celebrate the rich tradition of international students as a part of the Taylor family. We recognize these directives bring additional confusion and stress that are not conducive to your preparations for the fall semester. Our Office of Intercultural Programs is reaching out to international students to assist. If you have questions about the guidelines, this FAQ link from ICE may be helpful.
Taylor is working with our legal counsel to interpret this directive with clarity as we plan for the semester ahead. Our plan to have classes on campus would satisfy the requirement for international students to reside in the United States during the academic term. International students would also be allowed to remain in the U.S. if Taylor adopts a hybrid learning approach. Taylor will report our academic plans to the Student Exchange and Visitor Program so that it is clear that our classes are meeting on campus.
Taylor University is a globally-minded community and I am grateful for the welcoming spirit we show to our international students and friends around the world. We place a high priority on the health and safety of our campus, and as you know, we are planning various measures to abide by the directives for social distancing in the State of Indiana and Grant County. We will continue to monitor these situations and respond in ways that care for the community and also allow us to move ahead with our educational and spiritual mission in the best possible ways. We pray for all members of our community as we move closer to our campus re-opening in August. Be safe and be well.
Michael D. Hammond, Ph.D.
Provost and Executive Vice President