May 14, 2020

Message from the Director

Dear Associate Members,

We are writing to update you on the expected operation of the American School during the 2020-21 academic year. As you may have heard, the Regular Program will not be held due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic’s continuing or resurging impact on international travel, movement within Greece itself, museum and site closures, and, of course, the health of our members and staff. In other respects, however, we hope that the 2020-21 academic year will be a fruitful period for research conducted at the School including its excavations at Corinth and the Agora. Any associate member who wishes to use the facilities of the School must consult with the Director before making plans to come to Greece (director@ascsa.edu.gr).

At present, it is not possible for non-E.U. citizens to enter Greece, with a few limited exceptions. This travel ban is expected to expire on June 15. Separately from the travel ban itself, all persons arriving in Greece from abroad are currently required to self-isolate for fourteen days upon arrival, subject to monitoring from the police and a considerable fine for any violations. The self-quarantine requirement is very likely to remain in force unless widespread, multilateral coordination on health screening for travelers is implemented, which does not seem likely given various political situations around the world.

Even after you have arrived, it is impossible to guarantee that the School’s facilities will be available for the entire year. Nor are we presently able to paint a detailed picture of what kinds of academic offerings (lectures, reading groups, School excursions, seminars, etc.) will be available—in no small part because that will depend largely on your presence and interest. We ask for your flexibility and understanding in the event of any disruptions during the year, but we also believe that if the pandemic remains under control in Greece, the School will be able to operate and support your research fully in many of the usual ways. Despite the difficulties and uncertainties, we hope that you will be able to come.

Currently, the School is closed to the public, but members may access all research facilities—the Blegen and Gennadius Libraries, Wiener Laboratory, and Archives—by appointment only with the relevant personnel. For users of the Blegen Library, we have developed a seating arrangement that limits patrons to no less than two meters distance, and we are requiring all users of the library to wear a face covering while moving about, and to avoid violating physical distance requirements while accessing the stacks. Patrons are requested to sign up for scheduled library times, as we must control the total number of people in the library and maintain a record of who may have been in contact should a case of the virus emerge. However, we do not anticipate that the number of members will require limiting anyone’s access to the library. The resources of the Gennadius Library, Archives and the Wiener Laboratory are also available by appointment., each establishing its own conditions for use.

Work can be carried out at the excavation facilities in Corinth and the Agora, also by prior appointment. For accommodation at Corinth, reservations made well in advance are advisable. The School is continually processing permit requests and the Ministry is acting on them on in a timely manner.

On the social front, we are currently serving outdoor lunches (5 euros) five days a week. (As you know, Loring Hall is closed for renovations, so we are unable to serve breakfast or dinner.) Lunch is served in the basement corridor adjoining the Members’ Saloni, and we have set up tables in the paved courtyard behind the main building. Members are required to wear a face covering until they are seated outside, seating at tables is limited to four persons, and lunch is served in two shifts to ensure safe distancing. We hope to continue this arrangement throughout the summer and into the fall.

The Greek government is currently planning to open archaeological sites on May 18 and museums on June 15. At the present time we do not know if access to museum storerooms or other material for which you may hold or seek a study permit will be available on June 15, but we anticipate that it will be. For those of you who hope to conduct research outside Athens, be aware that hotels throughout Greece are scheduled to begin opening in June and July as well, but the details of which hotels will be allowed to open remain somewhat unclear at the present time.

It is important to understand that all of these projections for the future are fully contingent on the course of the pandemic within Greece. If the summer tourist season brings a new wave of infections, or there is otherwise a resurgence of the virus in the fall or winter, it is extremely likely that the government will re-impose some or all of the limitations on travel and activity that have been in place since March. These limitations might include prohibiting travel within Greece, for example to and from Athens and Corinth, closing archaeological sites and museums, etc. If the Blegen Library closes to members, we will allow patrons to check out a limited number of books so as to continue working at home, and provide proxy access to electronic resources. 
 

If you have specific questions, about conditions in Greece that cannot be answered by the attached list of web resources, please contact our Assistant Director Eric Driscoll (eric.driscoll@ascsa.edu.gr). We look forward to welcoming you to the School at whatever time you choose to come.

Sincerely,
Jenifer Neils, Director

 


 

May 11, 2020

After much discussion, the Managing Committee of the School has decided to cancel the Regular Member Program for the 2020-2021 academic year. This decision takes into consideration delays and uncertainties in reopening travel among and within countries, the prediction that social distancing will continue in Greece through the fall, and complications that may occur should a second wave of the virus arise during the academic year. Students' general health and wellbeing are our main concern, and we feel that, given the uncertainty surrounding the future spread of the virus, as well as various countries’ responses to the epidemic, we must cancel the program.

All accepted Regular Members may defer their attendance in the program to the 2021-2022 academic year. If an accepted member has been awarded an ASCSA School fellowship for the 2020-2021 program, the fellowship will automatically be deferred to the 2021-2020 year with the deferral of membership. Students may apply for partial-year visiting Associate Member status (https://ascsa.submittable.com/submit/115610/ascsa-associate-membership-application) if they have specific research to be carried out in Greece during the 2020-2021 academic year. All such applications will be reviewed by the Director of the School. Regular Member fellowship support, however, can only be used for the Regular Academic Program in 2021-2022. Please be aware that if someone wishes to utilize the School’s facilities this academic year, the normal offerings of the School may be somewhat curtailed.  As long as social distancing requirements are in place, members will be asked to coordinate all facility usage with the School in advance, and specific plans should be arranged with the School in advance of any international travel commitments.

Please contact Alicia Dissinger (Programs Administrator, adissinger@ascsa.org) if you have any questions.  We deeply regret the cancellation of the Regular Program due to these unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances.

 


 

March 25, 2020

In light of the rapidly evolving situation precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the American School of Classical Studies at Athens has made the difficult decision to postpone until summer 2021 the Summer Session, Summer Seminars, and Wiener Lab Field School planned for summer 2020.

 


 

March 9, 2020

We face the spread of COVID-19 around the world at the same time as many of us are planning air travel for the summer. The potential extent and speed of the spread of the virus is unknown. We cannot rule out problems lasting well into the summer. At present, the disease is not treatable; however, it also seems - like common influenzas - to affect the elderly and others with lessened immune systems more than those who are otherwise healthy. Health Department websites for various countries are good sources for advice on avoiding contracting and spreading the virus (see links below). 

At present, many airlines that have had to cancel flights to affected areas have been waiving change fees and offering credit on future flights. Many hotels are likewise being very supportive. We understand, however, that only the most comprehensive travel insurance policies are likely to cover costs stemming from epidemic- or pandemic-related cancellations. Be sure to read any policy very carefully before purchasing. 

At present, the ASCSA does not plan to cancel or reschedule any summer programming. As we are doing currently, the ASCSA will follow all recommendations and requirements put into place by the Greek authorities. At present, we recommend that people either delay purchases for summer air travel or be very aware of terms regarding refunds, rebookings, or cancellations. Trip cancellation insurance should be carefully considered. 

In the event that we are required to cancel programs, either due to requirements from the Greek government or due to airline travel restrictions, all fees will be refunded. If programs go ahead, but a participant's college or university, other place of employment, or country of origin has imposed travel restrictions, the School will refund all fees. Other reasons for individual cancellations and refunds will be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Travel and Health advisories:
Link to WHO
Link to CDC
Link to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
Link to Greek Ministry of Health

 



Message from the Director
 

9 March 2020

Dear ASCSA community,

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has increased significantly In Europe and to a certain extent in Greece. We expect this number will continue to climb with more widespread testing. It is also reasonable to assume that, at some point, there could be a confirmed case within our community. Understandably, these possibilities lead to elevated concern and anxiety, especially for those who are in higher-risk populations

Campus Status 
The Athens campus continues to remain open and is operating normally. We are fortunate that no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in our vicinity, but we continue to watch the global and regional situation carefully and assess the local impact. 

After careful review of our local situation and following consultation with health professionals, we have assessed that the risk of transmission associated with lectures and library use remains low. However, at this time and in accord with the Ministry of Health’s directive, we are canceling all public events for the month of March.

Operations
As we consider future developments, staff should take steps to prepare for the possibility of reduced operations, should that become necessary, including business to be conducted fully online or remotely. For the time being we assume that our facilities will remain open. Staff will have access to their offices, labs, and other facilities. The libraries will remain open to registered readers. Dining services in the Blegen will also continue to serve lunches for members M-F.

Travel
Additionally, members and staff should consider seriously whether personal travel is necessary at this time.  There are real restrictions, for example, on getting into the U.S., as well as the potential challenges of booking flights. Please inform your supervisor or the assistant director of any imminent travel plans outside Greece.

Travel restrictions will become stricter as confirmed cases of COVID-19 increase and high-risk Level 2-3 regions are identified. Whether you travel abroad or locally, you should be prepared to arrange for self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return should you return from a restricted jurisdiction (International or Domestic) or are exposed to an individual suspected positive for COVID-19. Other unanticipated restrictions may apply as public health officials monitor the situation.

Your Health & Wellness 

As a reminder, we recommend observing the following:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Stop touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Instead of shaking hands, find alternate ways to greet people.
  • Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces often.
  • If you are sick, stay home and do not travel. 
  • Call ahead before visiting your doctor to arrange a time to be seen.
  • In the event that you do experience any symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, fever, and shortness of breath) you should immediately contact either the members’ doctor Nick Michalopoulos or the staff doctor Τζένη Πανταζή.

We will continue to make regular updates concerning modified operations as new information is available. 

Yours sincerely,

Jenifer Neils

Director