Information on Covid-19

Sunset at the Louvre
Sunset at the Louvre
© Silvia Sabino

April 7, 2020

Since the departure of our spring students due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the world has changed considerably, and we are all adapting to a “new normal.” CUPA’s top priorities throughout this crisis have been to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and secure the academic continuity of their semester. The entire CUPA staff and faculty are working hard to make the transition from in-person education to distance learning as seamless as possible.

From the moment our students arrived in their home countries, we have been in regular contact with them. CUPA’s director, Mary Ann Letellier, has established a weekly video call with each student to centralize information and offer academic and personal support. While each person’s situation is unique, we are all experiencing some degree of sadness. These changes happened abruptly, and it can be challenging to cope, which is why students also have access to CUPA counseling services.

CUPA’s in-house courses have continued without interruption, and Cécile Hermellin, the associate director, has been coordinating the continuity of the direct-enrollment courses with our French university partners.  The spring students continue to receive individualized support thanks to video calls with our methodology and French language faculty, including help with coursework, proofreading, French language workshops, and discussion groups. In addition to the academic component of their semester, the Student Life team is organizing activities such as coffee breaks, talent shows, and virtual office hours. By adapting our services and making them available remotely, we want to encourage students to continue to perfect their French regardless of where they are in the world.

While this crisis is unprecedented, we remain optimistic that it will reveal the best in us. At the risk of sounding trite, over our fifty-plus years as a study abroad program, we have seen that the life-long friendships students forge during their time in France are some of the most important relationships they will have moving forward. This semester will be no different. We are proud of the CUPA community for playing a part in slowing the rate of infection by sheltering in place, supporting each other, and practicing social distancing measures even if, for our current students, it meant having to leave Paris.  We are also incredibly proud of the many CUPA alumni who are on the frontlines of this crisis and doing everything in their power to manage and eventually overcome this pandemic. Nous sommes avec vous !

Covid-19 Update (March 13, 2020)
Covid-19 Update (March 11, 2020)

Below you will find an FAQ about CDC and French crisis guidelines and important information concerning academic credit.

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FAQ Covid-19 and CUPA Response

What does “stade” 1, 2, and 3 mean in France?

Short answer

Each “stade” or stage serves to define the evolution of the epidemic and to make resources available.

Stade 1: The virus is present only as imported cases. Goal = limit the virus by isolating imported cases, i.e., quarantine.

Stade 2: The virus is present in clusters. Goal = limit the virus to clusters, slow the spread of the virus, manage health resources.

Stade 3: The virus is circulating in the territory. The origin of the virus in a specific person is difficult to determine. Goal = attenuate the effects, mobilize health professionals and resources, organize and prioritize the care of patients.


Long answer

As covid19 has spread across Europe, we have heard a lot about “stades” 1, 2, and 3 in France. These stages are a way of classifying the evolution of the epidemic and of allowing the government to put in place certain measures, such as loosening certain labor laws, in order to respond effectively to the health crisis.

Stade 1 is declared when a contagion is only present in people who came into contact with it outside of the territory. The goal of declaring this stage is to stop the contagion from going beyond imported cases. The government mobilizes health workers to isolate the patients, quickly identify points of contact, and treat the most serious cases in facilities that are equipped to do so.

Stade 2 refers to the moment when the contagion has moved from imported cases to people within the territory. The goal of declaring this stage is to limit and slow the spread of the contagion. At this stage, health workers and the government have identified clusters, and their goal is to treat these clusters and geographically contain the virus. If possible, the measures put into place during stage 2 are meant to prevent stage 3 (active circulation of the virus within the territory).  Strict limitations to gatherings, transportation, and the closing down of schools are possible, but mainly in the regions where there are clusters. The government also decided to enact national restrictions to gatherings in enclosed spaces of over 1000 people. By slowing the spread of a contagion, the government and health workers can better manage available resources.

Stade 3 means that the virus is no longer limited to a small number of geographical clusters. The contagion is now circulating within the general population on a national level. The goal of stade 3 is to attenuate the effects of the epidemic, to mobilize all health professionals, and to organize the treatment of patients depending on the seriousness of their case.

A stade 4 does exist, and it is characterized by the progressive decline in cases and the return to a normal health situation.


Sources: (Navigate to « Les réponses à vos question » and click on « plan et gestion de crise »

Are CDC levels and French Government “stades” the same thing?

No! CDC levels and French Government stages are not the same thing.

On the CDC website, levels refer to travel advisories, and the precautions individuals should take regarding specific countries. In the CDC Pandemic Influenza Plan, the vocabulary that most closely relates to the French epidemic “stade” is “domain.”

Watch Level 1 (Green): Practice usual precautions for this destination, as described in the Travel Health Notice and/or on the destination page. This includes being up-to-date on all recommended vaccines and practicing appropriate mosquito avoidance.

Alert Level 2 (Yellow): Practice enhanced precautions for this destination. The Travel Health Notice describes additional precautions added, or defines a specific at-risk population.

Warning Level 3 (Red): Avoid all non-essential travel to this destination. The outbreak is of high risk to travelers and no precautions are available to protect against the identified increased risk.

France is currently a Warning Level 3.



Will I get credit for my semester?

Yes. We have had experience with academic interruptions in the past due to prolonged strikes, and we were able to find solutions that allowed all students to get credit for their semester.

CUPA is in constant contact with your home universities, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that you get credit for your semester, no matter what happens moving forward. Ultimately, the decision to grant credit for your semester lies with your home universities. That being said, the feedback from your home universities indicates that they understand the circumstances and approve our academic contingency planning.

Should you need to go home, or if classes are temporarily canceled here, our close contact with your professors and universities in France will allow us to make sure that sufficient material is provided, for example, via Moodle. Some French universities, including Paris College of Art, are also preparing for the possibility of holding classes remotely. For Immersion Program students, following your projet de travail will provide you a solid framework for autonomous learning should that be necessary, and we will oversee your progress.

As we have said in past announcements, we are moving forward with the semester as planned. As the situation evolves, we will adapt and find the necessary solutions so that you can complete your semester.

Published: April 7, 2020