Verto Education’s Spring 2021 Programming Scenario Plan

Updated: October 14th, 2020

Verto Education has always kept student success and personal safety at the forefront of everything we do. Since April 2020 and throughout the evolving Covid-19 pandemic, we have remained open and transparent with our scenario planning to ensure students, families, counselors, and college and university partners have the necessary insight to make informed decisions to best fit each student’s individual situation. Our role is to always inform and not convince anyone to travel, and we’re proud to continue providing this level of open communication and stability in an otherwise changing world. Below you will find our Spring 2021 Scenario Plan detailing the forward-thinking of our programs.

Scenario A: Verto Education Semesters Abroad, as Planned

We continue to see several advancements that are stabilizing the pandemic allowing us to remain optimistic in our ability to continue moving forward with the Spring semester as planned. With this ongoing progression continuing throughout the calendar year, we are likely to see more and more nations opening their borders and inviting Americans to travel abroad. This is particularly true within the areas where Verto travels. Some of these general advancements include:

  • The U.S. State Department’s removal of the global Level 4 Travel Advisory allowing international travel to resume for Americans. This update removed a significant barrier contributing to the postponement of our Fall 2020 semester. 
  • All U.S. passport offices are fully open and processing new and renewing passports on a normal schedule. Non-expedited applications are processed between 10-12 weeks. Expedited services range from 4-6 weeks.  
  • International flight routing is operating with regular scheduled flights to/from Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Hawaii, and the United Kingdom with flights to Fiji reinstituted by December 2020.  
  • Vaccines continue to be developed worldwide and likely to be available for high-risk individuals and essential workers by the end of 2020. We’re not anticipating all students will become immunized prior to the Spring 2021 semester, but this advancement will have a significant impact in controlling the spread of the Covid-19 virus. 

Verto has also made several advancements internally furthering our confidence in running in-person semesters in the Spring. These include:

  • Our Covid-19 risk management planning and Covid-19 protocols have been discussed with and approved by leading medical experts including International SOS. These plans are shared and aligned with our local partner protocols to ensure a streamlined and comprehensive response effort should an exposure take place. 
  • We’re including rapid result Covid-19 tests within our student pre-departure packets to ensure all students receive testing prior to departure. This inclusion removes the burden of finding testing facilities within your home town and not knowing with certainty if test results will arrive in a timely manner. These saliva-based PCR tests are FDA approved with a proven 98.4% accuracy rating. 

It’s also worth mentioning that the pandemic has provided all of us with daily health and hygiene actions that are significant for maintaining health while traveling internationally. Safety measures, such as regular hand washing, wearing masks, and monitoring daily symptoms, have become a normal way of life at home. However, these simple measures have always been critical elements in protecting student health and preventing the spread of all types of illness while traveling abroad. When international travel resumes, students will have already created health and hygiene habits that will greatly increase their well-being throughout the semester. 

Scenario B: Flexible Departure Dates or Consolidated Destinations

If at any point we see that progress towards travel is occurring, but slower than we’d desire for our scheduled departures, we’ll look to adjust departure dates and time frame of the semester(s) as necessary. This could mean that we delay the start of a program from February 1st, 2021 to February 21st or an interval that makes sense under the given circumstances. Our academic calendar maintains some flexibility, so a delayed start of the Spring 2021 semester for safety reasons is something we can accommodate. We’d know this well in advance and will help guide students, families, and counselors for this scenario should it be required.

If any region where we offer semesters shows a trend of spiking infections, local uncertainty or lingering government regulations barring travel, Verto would identify these concerns early and make any necessary changes focusing on the integrity of delivering a high-quality student experience, academic coursework, and supporting our local communities. This could mean implementing modest adjustments to a semester’s itinerary or moving to an alternate program in another region of the world. For example, if Australia remains a restricted destination, we could adjust the 13-week South Pacific itinerary to spend equal time between Fiji and New Zealand. Remember, we’re flexible and adaptable because we are responsible for the student experience and delivering the academic coursework. We’ve proven time and time again in 2020 that we can remain nimble while successfully providing students with ample time to focus on their interests and college plans.

Scenario C: HYBRID ONLINE AND IN COUNTRY MODEL

Verto Education guarantees students will always have the ability to earn transferable college credits regardless of how learning is delivered. While unlikely, and as an absolute last resort, we are prepared to develop another version of our hybrid semester with a relevant and rigorous college curriculum and engage with local communities. In reality, this option will likely become part of a new normal for all of higher education, and Verto Education is prepared to deliver a high quality, affordable, and engaging curricular and co-curricular experience as necessary. Our experienced Course Directors are able to customize academics based on current events, and our local partners provide global perspectives that allow students to learn as global citizens through empathy, impact, and understanding.

Why are Verto Education semesters different from attending traditional college or university campuses?

We Have Multiple Locations

Verto Education: With locations in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, England, Italy, Spain and the United States, Verto will have multiple options to run our semesters safely. As always, safety is a top priority, and we will continue closely monitoring progress in each location in partnership with our local partners and medical and security experts.

Traditional Colleges: A college typically only has one location. If that area remains a high-risk area (Los Angeles, Austin, or Miami, for example), they are likely to cancel in-person classes and continue online for the Spring 2021 semester since these colleges are limited in alternate options.

We Have Small Class Sizes

Verto Education: With a 7 to 1 staff to student ratio, we have small group sizes. Simply put, we don’t have large lecture halls and auditoriums full of students. Our field semesters, in particular, are mobile units prioritizing immersive education experiences without the need to gather in large groups. If necessary, this will allow us to more effectively implement social distancing and other safety measures fluidly.

Traditional Colleges: College campuses are essentially small cities, and they will likely have a harder time opening up, much akin to concerts and sporting events. Even if they do open up, students will likely need to practice social distancing on campus which could include alternating between days in a lecture hall and online for their courses.

We Are Committed To The Student Experience

Verto Education: Verto always puts every dollar of tuition directly towards ensuring the best student experience both inside and outside the classroom. Our investment in the student experience also benefits local economies and communities in the areas we visit. This mutually beneficial experience provides positive real-life impact that students can see, feel, and experience firsthand.

Traditional Colleges: Many colleges continue to struggle with managing student expectations and demonstrating actual value to justify their price points. Only a portion of tuition at traditional colleges goes to the student experience with limited visibility on the benefits offered to local communities. A tragic yet factual outcome of the pandemic is that many colleges are struggling financially, and how this instability affects the student experience is worthy of consideration.

The Verto Education Promise

Simply put, Verto Education is the most dynamic and agile college experience in the world. Our guarantee is to always put the safety of our students first, to provide the best 1st-year college experience in the world, and to innovate within higher education. We will continue to communicate with you transparently about our plans and remain agile with adjustments as needed.

Do you have further questions about Verto Education’s semester planning? Our President and Executive Leadership Team is available and cares. Reach out to us directly, anytime.

– Mitch, Mallory, Ben, Michael, Erin, Steve and Dave

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