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.

As we prepare for the new academic year, our main priority is the health and safety of our community and we are making 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.

During Orientation we will hold in-person and on-line session to specifically address health and safety policies and procedures. As well, we will cover how to select and declare your primary care physician (médecin traitant in French).

This page was last updated on August 24, 2020.

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 fall 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

Arriving to Campus in the Fall

Will PCA be open for the fall 2020 semester?

At this time it is our intention to begin the semester as usual in September. We are prepared for the fact that some students may arrive late because of visa processing delays or due to quarantine, and are thus developing on-line content corresponding to the first month of class work, so that students can start the semester on-line and avoid falling behind on course work before they can join us in person.

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.

Currently travellers from 16 countries with high infection rates must show recent proof of having tested negative for COVID-19 before boarding their flight. While testing at French airports is in place, at this time it is not a substitute for testing before departure for these countries. Students coming from countries not on the list may be subject to testing upon arrival but should not be required to submit a test before boarding. If you are unsure if you rcountry is on the list of 16 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 over the course of the next few weeks or airlines may function differently than Air France.

Will I be submitted to quarantine upon entry into France?

On July 24th the French government announced that, rather than requiring travelers from high-risk countries to self-quarantine for 2 weeks they would be asked to submit a recent proof of having tested negative to COVID-19 or to submit to a test upon arrival at the airport and remain in self-quarantine until receiving negative results. The testing upon arrival should be fully rolled out by August 1st. We are tracking information on and will update this FAQ page as new information becomes available.

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.

What will happen if school is open but regular travel is not resumed from my country to France?

If you are a foundation or freshman BFA Photo student you can join our Pathways to Paris program to complete your first semester from the comfort of your home. 

If you are a returning student, you can chose to complete liberal studies and art history credits online that contribute to your degree completion requirements. We will offer the following online liberal studies courses, for 3 credits each:

Positive Psychology
In this course you will study the academic sub-field of positive psychology and its applications to daily life.

The Microbiome, the Macrobiome and Humanity
In this course you will study pandemics, the climate crisis and the toll on humanity highlighting the fragility of human life, consent, the global south and the ongoing understanding of these multivariate challenges.

Paris: Yesterday and Tomorrow

In this course you will learn about the neighborhoods, cultures, people, customs, institutions and organizations in Paris through a thematic approach based on three main modules: the city and its history; the literary and artistic representations of the city; the city, its citizens, and its future.

Contact your department chair or advisor if you wish to change your course selection for the fall.

What happens if I can't arrive in time for the first week of class in September?

If you are a Foundation student you have the option to complete the first semester entirely on-line. Please contact your Admissions Counselor or use the Reply to Offer of Admission form to enroll in the Pathways to Paris program.

If you are a returning or transfer undergraduate, or certificate student, you can complete up to 4 weeks of course content on-line and then integrate face-to-face instruction as you come to the campus. This is an option if your visa application is pending and you have been given an expected deadline for receiving your visa that is between September 7th and October 9th. If your visa processing is excepted to last longer than that and you are a returning or transfer student, we advise you to sign up for liberal studies and art histories courses that are taught on-line for the full semester. You can thus earn up to 9 credits towards degree completion and “get ahead” in your liberal studies and art history credit compete in order to focus on studio classes in the spring semester. if you are a certificate student in a studio discipline you can defer entry until January 2021 and the tuition paid for fall 2020 will be applied to spring 2021.

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?”)

Application Process

When is the application deadline for fall 2020?

We have extended our deadlines in light of the current situation.  Due to the time it takes to obtain a student visa, applicants from countries outside of EU/CH must complete the application to PCA by July 15th.  We will still review applications from students with EU/CH nationalities through July 21st.

Can I defer my application to another entrance term?

We understand that due to the current pandemic the world is facing unprecedented uncertainty, and that you and your family may be considering postponing the start of your studies. For that reason, we have taken measures to alleviate the pressure on students faced with decisions about fall 2020 and allow you more time to see how the situation unfolds before having to commit.

→ Choosing to Deposit
We have extended the tuition deposit deadline until June 1st. In addition, if you do deposit but are unable to make it to Paris due to travel restrictions or visa issues you will be able to choose either to defer your entry to a future term or have your deposit refunded.

→ Choosing to Defer
Admitted students can defer their date of entry for up to one year. If you are certain at this point that you wish to defer your entry for up to one year, please submit this form by selecting “I ACCEPT my offer of admission,” and pay your €1000 deposit. As well, submit the Request to Defer Admission Form to complete the process.

→ Choosing to Reapply
If you are not willing to pay your deposit to hold your place at this time, but wish to be considered for entry for a future semester please select “I DECLINE my offer of admission.” Then in the Feedback section of this form indicate the term you intend to reapply for. We will send you a reminder when it is time to apply. Your application fee will be waived, and unless you have completed additional studies, you will not need to submit any new application materials. Your application will be reviewed with preferential status before the first round of normal applications. Please note if you do choose to reapply there is no guarantee that your previous offer of acceptance will be upheld.

Students who are seeking a deferral for financial reasons are advised to contact the Financial Assistance Committee before paying the deposit. Students who do not wish to defer by making a tuition deposit may reapply in the future with an expedited process, and their application will be reviewed again with the new round of candidates.

Can I speak to a member of the Admissions Team while the school is closed?

While we can’t welcome you on campus we have set up online info sessions with our Admissions Team, which you can sign up for here. If you have already started an application, you will find the contact information for your specific Admissions Counselor in your applicant portal. Please note that PCA’s staff is currently working reduced hours, and we appreciate your patience if it takes us slightly longer than usual to get back to you.

You can also take a virtual tour of our campus from the comfort of your couch!

What do I do if I can not sit my school leaving exams, get a copy of my final high school transcripts, or other proof that I have finished high school?

If you are unable to sit exams and/or obtain school leaving exam results or final official transcripts of study due to the Covid-19 pandemic you will exceptionally be allowed to start class in fall 2020 as long as you provide your most recent high school transcript or grade results along with documentation from your educational institution on the postponement of the graduation exam or issuance of final transcripts. You will be expected to submit your exam results, final transcript, etc. as soon as they become available.

What do I do if I need to submit an English Language Proficiency Test?

If you have not been able to take the TOEFL, IELTS, or Cambridge test because of testing center closing should register for the online version of the TOEFL.* Test dates are currently available and scores will be issued in under two weeks of taking the test.

*At the time of this writing TOEFL is the only test that is available online.

Payments, Refunds & Deferrals

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

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 this fall.  You can join our international community and complete the first semester of your foundation program from the comfort of your home, before joining us in Paris in January to start our second semester.

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 fall semester: €6500
Deposit paid to deduct from tuition: €1000
Balance remaining: €5500

Due September 1st: €3025
Due October 10th: €825
Due November 10th: €825
Due December 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 have reserved housing at the Fondation des Etats-Unis through PCA and are unable to make it to Paris in the fall due to government-imposed travel restrictions or visa refusal, you can request a full refund by August 1st. In the case of visa refusal, you will be asked to provide documentation showing that you made every reasonable attempt to obtain your visa in a timely manner. After August 1st, the FEU payment will be non-refundable.

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.

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 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.

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.

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. 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?

As in any semester we will make our best effort to quickly find a replacement and 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:

What happens if there is a second wave of infection and the PCA campus is ordered to close down?

If this happens during the first half of the semester (i.e. before October 30th), you will have the option to withdraw and defer to spring 2021. Tuition paid for fall 2020 will be applied towards spring 2021.

If this happens during the second half of the semester (i.e. after October 30th), we would finish the semester on-line, as was done in March 2020.

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: