Covid-19: PCA response and FAQ's

Health and Safety Measures at PCA

PCA is carefully monitoring the current Covid-19 outbreak and determining policy to support the health and safety of our community through three main sources: the French government, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control  and the US Center for Disease Control.

Our main priority is the health and safety of our community and we have made the necessary adaptations to our environment and policies to comply with the new Covid-19 health and safety protocols, mandated by the French Government. Below is a summary of the main measures being put in place. These measures can only be effective if every member of the community strictly adheres to the guidelines.

We encourage you to return to the online Orientation sessions that specifically address health and safety policies and procedures, and those on how to select and declare your primary care physician (médecin traitant in French).

You will find below the latest updates about Covid-19:

COVID-19 February 1st update

As of February 1st, additional restrictions on international travel have been put in place in France. All travelers, including within the European Union, will need to have a negative PCR test result dating from less than 72 hours and present certain documents, such as the Sword Statement to Abide by the Rules for Entry into Metropolitan National Territory at the time of travel.

COVID-19 January 15th update
COVID-19 December 10th update
COVID-19 November 25th update
COVID-19 October 30th update
COVID-19 October 29th update
COVID-19 October 28th update

We’re also regularly receiving Covid-19 information sheets from APUAF (Association of American University Programs in France) Committee, that regularly updates a compilation of COVID-19 protocols and guidelines as established by the French authorities. You can find them below:

COVID-19 Info Sheet from APUAF Committee, February 16th
COVID-19 Info Sheet from APUAF Committee, January 18th
COVID-19 Info Sheet from APUAF Committee, January 11th

This page was last updated on February 17, 2021.

PCA Offering Some Classes on Campus

We anticipate holding some studio classes on-campus from the start of the spring semester and a list will be posted here in early January. All other classes will be held online for at least the first four weeks of the semester.

For those who have the possibility to come to campus, you can find here all the necessary information about on-campus classes and the measures you need to take to commute safely.

Because campus is open from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday only, some classes will start later or end later/earlier than what was originally planned.

Some teachers may be holding class online certain weeks, so you should always check with your chair and instructor. If needed, see if your instructors can accommodate you to follow class online. Due to the exceptional circumstances, there is no requirement to come to campus.

Measures against Covid-19

Individual protection/hygiene measures

Everyone is required to wear a mask at all times when on the PCA campus. Failure to do so can lead to dismissal. Disposable masks are available at front desk for those who do not have their own.
• When you enter campus, clean your hands with the hydro-alcoholic solution available at the front desk. You should also wash hands when you switch classrooms.
• Cover your mouth and nose with the crease in your elbow or a disposable handkerchief if you cough or sneeze.
• Blow your nose and spit only in disposable tissues, which you immediately throw in the trash.
• Greet each other without shaking hands, hugging or giving les bises. **
• Wash your hands carefully and regularly with soap and water and wipe them with disposable paper preferably, in the absence of access to water, use hydro-alcoholic solution.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

*this will be continued or reassessed as needed for the spring semester
** traditional greeting in France of kisses on each cheek

Measures to guarantee physical distance between individuals

• Classrooms are limited to a maximum number of users at any given time and the maximum capacity is posted for every room
• Small labs (e.g., the black & white photo lab, the printmaking darkroom, the digital photo lab, the digital fabrication lab, the resource center) will not be used for classes in the spring semester* and can only be accessed by reservation so that the space can be disinfected before it is reused
• To avoid waiting lines in hallways, students will need to schedule appointments with all student services (Admissions, Business Office, Registrar, Student Life, etc.)
• Hallways will become “one way” with signage indicating which stairwell and elevator to use for going upstairs and which one to use for going downstairs. Elevator occupation is limited to 1 person at a time
• In hallways safety distances will be indicated by markings on the ground
• Large group meetings (orientation, town halls) will be held through remote technologies

Collective hygiene measures

• Maintenance agents who work on our premises are trained to perform the required cleaning protocol, including the use of special disinfectant of contact surfaces (handles, switches, telephones, etc.) in addition to the rigorous cleaning of the premises, floors and sanitary facilities
• Regular ventilation of closed rooms every 3 hours: at the end of a class the windows should be opened and can not be closed for the first 5 minutes of the following class
• Hydro-alcoholic solutions and disinfectant wipes available so that each user can clean shared equipment (eg photocopiers, keyboards, etc.)

Frequently Asked Questions:

Contingency Plans & On-Campus Guidelines

Do I need to wear a mask?

A mask is required at all times, in all shared spaces on campus. Additionally, masks are required in Paris’ public transportation system, any closed public space (e.g. inside a shop or restaurant) and crowded public spaces (e.g. busy streets).

As a general rule and for your own safety, we strongly advise you to wear a mask in all public spaces. Currently masks are required in the areas of Paris indicated on this map, and you can be charged a fine of €135 if caught without a mask in these areas. With rising cases in Paris, the requirement may be extended to the entire city soon, so please make sure to follow the news from the Mairie de Paris closely.

How can I prepare myself?

All members of the PCA community are encouraged to plan for possible illness or quarantine by making sure to:

  1. Have emergency contact numbers and doctors’ numbers readily available,
  2. Have two week’s worth of non-perishable food at home,
  3. Have two week’s worth of any prescription medication that you take regularly, do not wait until you have run out to renew your prescription,
  4. Have two week’s worth of basic hygiene products available, such as toilet paper, tissues, menstrual products, contact lens solution, soap, aspirin, etc.
  5. Have a basic pharmacy kit with a thermometer, aspirin or another over-the-counter pain reliever, band-aids, etc.

What if I am in Paris and become ill?

It is very important that you find a general practitioner (“médecin traitant”) as soon as you get to Paris, even if you have no symptoms or illness. You can find information on enrolling in FREE French health insurance as well as a list of English-speaking doctors on your mon.paris portal. If you experience fever, flu-like symptoms, loss of smell or taste or experience difficulty breathing you must call your general practitioner or the emergency number 15 if it is outside business hours. Your doctor will be able to prescribe a laboratory to test you for COVID-19. You must remain in isolation while you wait for the test results and should not under any circumstances come to campus. If you test positive, you must remain in isolation, and your doctor will guide you on how to treat symptoms. See our Covid-19 Decision Tree.

Our attendance policy has been modified to encourage all students experiencing symptoms to stay at home, without fear of penalty for their grades. Depending on the severity of your illness, you can either catch up on missed assignments, request an extension or take a medical leave of absence. As is the case with any serious illness, your health is our utmost priority, and you would discuss options and decide on the best solution in consultation with your department chair.

What to do if someone I am close to has been tested positive for COVID-19?

Anyone you have interacted with for more than 15 minutes without wearing a mask is considered close. If a close person has tested positive, you need to self-quarantine, schedule a test, and wait for negative test results before you can return to campus. This also applies if a member of your household has someone close who has tested positive (e.g. your roommate’s boyfriend): in this case you need to quarantine until the household member tests negative. If s/he tests positive, you must get tested and remain in quarantine until you get negative results. See our Covid-19 Decision Tree.

We are all responsible for making sure that the spread of the virus stays under control, so please do not take any chances or put the PCA campus at risk by coming if you know you’ve been exposed to someone who could be infected. The attendance policy has been modified so that you will not be penalised academically for taking these precautions.

What happens if a classmate becomes ill when we are both studying on campus?

France has set in place a system of contact tracing to be able to follow up with any person who has been in close proximity, without a mask, for 15 minutes of more with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. PCA does not conduct contact tracing, we report any known positive case to the French health authorities (ARS) and they follow up. On the PCA campus we keep a track of who comes to the campus, either by having the person badge to enter campus or by signing in with a name and contact information in the visitors log. We encourage students to keep track of their social encounters off campus as well, especially in situations (dinners, etc.) where you may be in close proximity without a mask for more than 15 minutes. You can also opt to install an app on your phone to help you with contact tracing.

What happens if a faculty member is ill?

France has set in place a system of contact tracing to be able to follow up with any person who has been in close proximity, without a mask, for 15 minutes of more with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. PCA does not conduct contact tracing, we report any known positive case to the French health authorities (ARS) and they follow up. As in any semester we will make our best effort to quickly find a replacement for a missing instructorand to catch up on any missed classes. Make-up classes can sometimes take the form of asynchronous assignments when it is difficult to schedule a face-to-face make-up class.

Can I get tested in France?

To make an appointment for a diagnostic test you can book it on-line using the same tool that you can use to search and book a general practitioner or specialist appointment:
For quick (15 min), free testing (even without a Carte Vitale!), you can go to Pharmacie Maubeuge just around the corner from PCA, at 102 rue Maubeuge.

Is there an app for that?

If you want to you can download the StopCovid App that will notify you if anyone you have been in close physical contact with for more than 15 minutes (as measured by Bluetooth from your device) has tested positive: https://bonjour.stopcovid.gouv.fr/

Arriving to Campus in January 2021

How can I apply for my visa?

For certain countries, French visa applications are being accepted online.  We recommend accepted applicants begin their visa application as advised by Campus France.  Campus France has already committed to processing visas as quickly as possible, and extending their deadlines to make the process easier when things are back up and running.

A recent official press release from the French Foreign Minister states, “Given the importance of the attractiveness of French higher education, international students will be allowed to travel to France, regardless of their countries of origin, and visa procedures will be facilitated. Visa and resident permit applications will be processed as a priority.

Will I be allowed entry into France?

As of July 1st, French borders are open to all EU citizens and all travellers with a student visa, regardless of country of origin and travel restrictions that apply to the country of origin. If you have secured a valid student visa for for the academic year 2020-2021 you will thus be granted entry into France.

For updated information about the status of applying for visas visit the Coming to France on the Campus France website.

While testing at French airports is in place, at this time it is not a substitute for testing before departure.

If you are unsure if you need to be tested before you enter France you can use the Traveldoc tool on the Air France website to determine requirements for your situation.  As well, please check with your airline, as these requirements may change  or airlines may function differently than Air France.

You can find the answers to questions regarding entry in France on https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/coronavirus-advice-for-foreign-nationals-in-france/

Will I be submitted to quarantine upon entry into France?

If you do not have a negative result of a test carried out in the 72 hours before your departure and if your test at the airport is positive, or if you have COVID-19 symptoms, the authorities can require that you self-isolate.

Travellers are asked to show civic responsibility and to follow the health precautions recommended by the authorities.

Can I be asked to quarantine after I arrive in France?

If you experience symptoms that could be caused by COVID-19 you will be asked to get tested and to remain in quarantine until you have confirmed negative tests results. Until you have negative test results you may therefor be in quarantine in your home and you should plan accordingly, by having a supply of food, daily household goods and any prescription medicine that you need.

Do I need to show a recent negative test result on the first day of class?

We are not requiring students to show a negative test result in order to start the semester. However, if you have been in contact with a person that has tested positive you must self-quarantine and get tested and remain in quarantine until you test negative (see “What to do if someone I am close to has been tested positive for COVID-19?”)

Can family members visit me in France?

Travel restrictions for entry into France apply for travelers outside of the European Union. Updated information can be found here: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/coronavirus-advice-for-foreign-nationals-in-france/

Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine in France?

COVID-19 vaccines are anticipated to become available in the European Union by the end of 2020 and will be distributed nationally according to priority, staring with residents in nursing homes and health care workers. It is anticipated that people with vulnerabilities will have access to the vaccine in March, and the general population by the end of spring. Contact your medical provider (medecin traitant)  to see if you qualify for priority vaccination.

Students who do not already have a medecin traitant are encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

Payments, Refunds & Deferrals

Can I get a refund on my tuition deposit if I can’t make it in January?

For students entering the first year of their undergraduate program, we have developed the ‘Foundation Online: Pathway to Paris’ course in response to the current world situation, as a way to engage first year students in the Foundation experience remotely, if they can’t join us in person.  You can join our international community and complete your foundation program from the comfort of your home, before joining us in Paris in Fall 2021.

For all new students: due to uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we will defer or refund the deposit for students who are unable to attend due to travel bans or visa refusal. You must supply proof that you have made every reasonable effort to acquire your visa in a timely manner to be refunded for this reason.

Can I divide my tuition payments for the Online Foundation program?

Like our other programs, if you opt for Online Foundation it is still possible to divide your tuition payments into monthly installments if you prefer. The enrollment deposit is deducted from tuition, and then 55% of remaining tuition and fees must paid by September 1st, followed by 3 monthly payments of 15%. The calendar of payments would be as follows:

Total tuition for online spring semester: €6500
Deposit paid to deduct from tuition: €1000
Balance remaining: €5500

Due January 4th: €3025
Due February 10th: €825
Due March 10th: €825
Due April 10th: €825

You will also be billed a one-time €100 Monthly Payment Plan fee.

What happens to my Financial Assistance if I defer for a year?

If you decide to defer to the next academic year you must re-apply for Financial Assistance. However, if your financial situation has not changed, you can expect that the PCA Scholarship, Institutional Loan and CAP awards for the following intake will be similar to that of the current award. The only exception to this is the Covid-19 Relief Scholarship, which we will only be offering in 2020-21 and will not be available beyond this year.

Housing in Paris

Will my housing be reimbursed if I am unable to travel to Paris?

It is important to secure housing in Paris as soon as possible given the high demand for student accommodation during the summer. If you need a visa to study in France, you will be asked for proof of accommodation for the first three months of your stay during your visa appointment.

If you are seeking housing independently or through one of the agencies recommended in the PCA housing guide, please contact them directly about their cancellation policies. It is likely that they will be responding to the current situation and adapting deadlines and refund policies accordingly.