Frequently Asked Questions

TRAVEL

 

KGSP recommends that students avoid all non-essential travel, both domestic and international.

It is not safe for you, or for those around you, to travel right now--including those you would be returning to in Saudi Arabia.  COVID-19 is transmitted by direct interaction with infected people:  This likelihood is dramatically increased by travel, and all but eliminated by simply staying at home.   

This advice is benchmarked against national (e.g., CDC and MOH) and international (e.g., WTO) guidelines, and aligns with other countries’ recommendations.  

 

I understand the advice of staying in the United States, but what if I make my mind up to go to Saudi Arabia, anyway? How would KGSP help me, especially when Saudi Arabia reopens the border?

  • It remains the Program’s recommendation to avoid all travel; this remains, however, an individual decision.  
  • If you chose to return to Saudi Arabia despite this recommendation, you assume the associated risks and responsibilities; while you will not be penalized from a programmatic standpoint, you must ensure that doing so will not jeopardize your ability to continue studies in the U.S. This includes:
    • Will departing the U.S impact requirements or repercussions relating to:
      • You university enrollment
      • Your U.S. visa status
      • Your SACM enrollment
    • If your online classes are live, will you be able to continue attending them at those times in Saudi Arabia
    • Do you have sufficient internet connectivity at your location in Saudi Arabia to remain fully engaged in you online coursework and responsibilities
    • How you will continue to make payments for your current U.S.-based accommodations
    • Are you prepared for the 14 days of quarantine upon arrival
  • It is critical that you notify your advisor if you plan to travel—even if the decision is last-minute—and provide your travel itinerary.  KGSP must maintain an accurate summary of student locations in order to best support you.    Remember that remaining in touch with KGSP while you study remotely will be very important as this situation progresses. 

 

I’m in a state that has been forced to quarantine, what will KGSP do in response? Would we be taken out, or remain here?

  • The recommendation to avoid travel remains the same.  This is a pandemic, meaning everywhere is affected, and traveling would be participating in spreading the virus.
  • Your best defense is to follow the precautionary measures outlined: 
    • Adhere to all social distancing guidelines; avoid all physical contact with others (e.g., handshakes, etc.)
    • Frequently wash your hands and avoid touching your face
    • Follow the tips recommended in the KGSP Daily News Blast
    • Take care of your mental well-being as well as your physical:  Cook healthy meals, follow an at-home exercise plan, stay connected with your family and friends, and practice mindfulness to remain calm and aware throughout the situation.    

 

I understand and appreciate the advice against panic thinking, but in light of the panic happening in the US (lack of basic living essentials) and the increasing severity of the circumstances, are there any contingency plans in place should we see the unfolding of a worse-case scenario?   

  • This is a rapidly-evolving situation, with changes occurring every single day.  We are actively monitoring the situation, and will continue to benchmark against relevant organizations and the Saudi Arabian government’s guidelines. 
  • Border closure / reopening decisions are related to public health considerations, and are solely determined by the government of Saudi Arabia.
  • We are in a pandemic, and all countries--KSA included--are now affected and responding accordingly. 
    • KSA, for example, has also enacted very strict measures--a national curfew, limited domestic travel, a work-from-home order for employees at all public and private entities, repeated pleas from all ministries to self-quarantine at home, etc. 
  • All countries and individuals around the world are redefining “basic living essentials” to deal with this crisis.  We urge you to do the same.   If you cannot find hand sanitizers, for example, use soap, water, and good handwashing techniques to clean your hand.  If you cannot find masks, look into making your own.  More importantly, simply stay home.
  •  Given the complexity and quickly-moving nature of this situation, it is best to avoid making decisions based on hypotheticals. 

 

Is the Saudi government sending its citizens back? 

 

Should I register with the embassy?

  • Absolutely. This is not a COVID 19-related procedure. The Saudi Government is aware that you’re under our care, and they know that you are well taken care of, but anyone living in a foreign country should register with their embassy.
  • SACM-registered students are already registered with the embassy through SACM.  No further action is needed.
  • Students who are not yet registered with SACM can find the embassy registration process  here: https://www.saudiembassy.net/sites/default/files/Passport-reg-consulat-service.pdf    
  •  All the Embassy services, including the emergency phone numbers, are outlined here: https://www.saudiembassy.net/saudi-nationals

 

HOUSING

 

KGSP will ensure all students remaining in the U.S. during the COVID-19 outbreak have ensured housing.

 

As of the current situation, many people are forced to leave their dorms and find new housing. This will put us in difficult financial situations due to the sudden relocations and sudden payments for new housing. How will KGSP provide help for such situations?

  • The Program is already supporting these students, per guidelines announced at the beginning of the crisis.
  • Advisors have been working with students whose on-campus housing closed to submit appeals, 100% of which have been successful at this time. 
  • If, however, that should change, previous guidelines remain in place:  If you live on campus and you university insists you leave (via a denied appeal of a published policy) KGSP will assist you in alternate accommodations. 

 

What if my lease runs out before the travel ban is lifted?  For example, what will happen to Foundation Year students whose leases end in mid-May?

  • The above still applies:  KGSP will assist you in finding alternate accommodations if needed, based on the situation at the time and forthcoming decisions about summer enrichment (see below section).  

 

ACADEMICS

Advisors understand the impact of the tremendous shift and adjustments you need to make in order to successfully make the transfer on online learning. This shift is going to be challenging. Continue communicating with your advisor and home university, and identify your needs in this new learning context.  Advisors will support you in managing the impact of this uncertainty.

 

Can I take all non-stem classes, since most of the ones in my major with labs are cancelled?

  • KGSP’s regular policy regarding course registration applies:  You need to follow the degree plan signed by your home university academic advisor, and submit to your KGSP advisor for review.  Your academic advisor will be able to assist you in identifying suitable replacement courses in order to remain on track. 
  • KGSP understands that flexibility will be needed; your job is to work with your academic advisor to ensure you’re meeting his/her recommendations, which KGSP will then support.  

 

Some universities are offering changing grading options to pass/fail or getting credit for the class without counting it into your GPA. How would you advise us towards that?  Some universities are even doing this as a mandatory policy.  How does KGSP plan on evaluating their students in terms of their Program Standing? 

 

  • SACM announced that students who are given the option to by their home university to take course pass/fail, may choose to do so.
  • As KGSP students, you are also expected to follow the KGSP's guidelines for pursuing a pass.fail option:
  • If the decision to issue grades as pass/fail is decided for you by your university or individual professor, KGSP will abide by that (i.e., it’s not a choice you made).
  • If the pass/fail option is available as a choice (i.e., it is not a decision made for all students/classes by the individual professor or by your university), you must first request to do so with the KGSP, as always.  Barring special circumstances, the Program will only approve a move to Pass/Fail if doing so:
    1. doesn't affect you graduation timeline
    2. is in a non-STEM class (changed from non-major)
    3. Without moving to pass/fail, you will receive a C or below
  • Your cumulative GPA remains a factor in determining standings.   With fewer academic details available for the term, it becomes all the more important to fully meet the other, qualitative components of the KGSP Terms and Conditions.  This means being in good contact with your advisor and following other expectations.  

 

 

SUMMER ENRICHMENT

KGSP will continue to support and expect significant summer enrichment participation.

While the types of enrichment opportunities must, of course, be different, KGSP will ensure that students have extensive options and alternatives allowing for meaningful personal and professional development.  These will be offered via online/remote instruction.

It will be critical to remain in close contact with your Advisor. KGSP will consider meaningful opportunities that are not necessarily traditional. We will keep an open mind and approach enrichment with flexibility.

Your advisor will be sending an enrichment-specific announcement and FAQ later this week.   

 

 

GRADUATION / KAUST MATRICULATION

KAUST admissions has not been affected by COVID-19

 

Will the current situation cause any delays in the KAUST admission timeline?

  • No. KAUST has always had a staggered admission process.  Students should expect an acceptance or rejection by June.

 

What if the situation continues and students are unable to leave the US to report to KAUST? Will KAUST support deferral petitions in this case?

  • KAUST has already switched to online learning. If the current situation continues, KAUST will be fully ready to start on time through online learning.  Deferrals are not expected to be necessary, though exception cases will be considered (as occurs every year).

 

If we’re forced by the circumstances to stay in the US until the summer, and we are graduating in may will KGSP cover our living expenses and housing since our SACM scholarship ends in May?

  • Yes, if you are unable to return to KSA after graduation, you will be considered as still actively enrolled with the KGSP and your benefits will continue.  Should you fall into this specific situation, the Program would assume your benefits (as is already the policy, subject to qualification).

 

HEALTH INSURANCE / STAYING HEALTHY & FINANCE

KGSP will assist students as necessary during emergency situations that are a direct result of COVID-19.

 

What is KAUST planning on doing in terms of providing health aids to students in the event they do ( لا سمح الله) become ill?  Students are on different forms of insurance (Aetna for non-SACM students, UHCSR for SACM students) which have disparagingly different coverage in different areas which can limit the quality or accessibility of care for the student. What is KAUSTs best advice for approaching these issues of health insurance/ healthcare quality in the US?

  • KGSP had not seen any indication that either health insurance company will be unable to provide suitable care.  The current health care challenges in the U.S. related to COVID-19 (mainly availability of testing kits) has nothing to do with insurance type.  
    • Those students on Aetna insurance will have already received information from them on new initiatives in place for COVID-19 (e-appointments, etc.)
    • If you are on UHC insurance and are having difficulty understanding your coverage, please reach out to your advisor who can help you identify who to contact at UHC who can answer your questions.  
  • Advisors as usual will help students navigate the insurance system, regardless of insurance type.
  • If the student’s current insurance does not cover all the cost associated with the COVID 19 treatment, the student’s case will be evaluated for financial support from KGSP. 

 

What if a KGSP student catches COVID-19? Is he going to get the treatment here in the US? 

  • In line with its regular health policies, KGSP will provide all possible support to any student who contracts COVID-19, working with relevant authorities to promote the best possible care. 
  • The best thing a patient with COVID-19 can do, for both himself and for those around him, is remain where he is—travel would compound symptoms and likely ensure the virus’ spread to others. 
  • Further details on eligibility requirements (including health status) for the repatriation process managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are available here.   

 

Many of us cannot secure hand sanitizers, hand gloves, and face masks. Could KGSP help us by providing them to us so when we leave to the supermarket we can try to protect ourselves?  People are panic buying and we are worried about survival in the next few months. How will KGSP support us through that?

  • KGSP cannot provide anything more than what is available locally.  Research the best alternatives, including soap and water, home-made masks, etc.   The daily KGSP News Blast includes such tips.
  • There is no indication that the U.S. will “run out” of basic non-medical necessities.  You have access to what you need to stay safe, by following self-quarantine guidelines:
    • Regular hand washing & cleaning of commonly-touched surfaces (doorknobs, computers, phone screens, etc.)
    • Staying home, and social distancing if you have to be around others (maintaining a six-foot distance, avoiding handshakes, etc.) 
      • Avoiding public transportation:  When possible, do you shopping at stores within walking distance from your home, or car pool with KGSP students who you know have been self-quarantining (as opposed to Uber, etc.) 
      • Setting a personal curfew:  The majority of locations in the U.S. have not set mandatory curfews; however, knowing the times of day when it is safest to be out is advisable.   For example, you may want to avoid going to the grocery store early in the morning (which is often reserved for older shoppers) and in early evening at the close of the work day, when customer traffic increases.
      • Using a delivery services:  In additional to national delivery services (Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, etc.), many local grocery stores have online ordering and/or delivery services available, or curbside pickup service. 

 

Would there be a possibility that we are financially compensated for the current situations we are in?

  • KGSP will set aside an emergency fund to address emergency COVID 19-related issues, such as non-covered insurance fees. It will not be used for other costs that are due to the student’s own decisions, such as covering the cost of a flight, or changes in housing due to student choice (as opposed to being mandated by the home university).  Be in touch with you advisor if you have questions on this.

 

Will KGSP change a student’s probation status or alter the student’s deduction schedule due to the current situation?

  • No, these are academic and operational decisions that will stand firm. These include measures taken due to attendance and other sanctions. The special emergency fund will not be utilized to cover such cases.

 

Will KGSP cover fees resulting from the COVID 19 situation, including storage fees?

  • Right now, we do not have a plan for such a cost, but make sure to inform your Advisor if you’re facing any new charges.  As this type of cost may fall under the special emergency fund, requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.