International Students

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for International Students

Updated as of September 21, 2020

Hello from the Global Learning department at the Calgary Board of Education.

We understand this is a very stressful time for everyone and that there are many questions around COVID-19 and the effects on our schools.  The following are frequently asked questions we have been receiving.  You will see there are some areas where we do not have definitive answers at this time and we will update you regularly when we receive new information.

Alberta schools will be reopening for the 2020-21 school year.  What can I expect regarding school operations?

The Alberta government has announced that face-to-face classes will resume in September with health measures in place.

Students, staff and parents can expect a near-normal school experience and the CBE will strictly follow Alberta Health guidelines to minimize risk of disease transmission. To do this, we will need everyone’s cooperation to stay home when they are feeling unwell, and to follow all health protocols as they evolve over time. 

It is important to understand that, when entering school in September, it is in the midst of a pandemic.  Our excellent CBE schools and staff will continue to offer the very best programming they can but it will be important to have realistic expectations about the set-up of the learning environment that will be necessary to keep students and staff safe.

Also, the pandemic situation may change throughout the year meaning school will need to respond accordingly.  It will be important to be adaptable, flexible, and understand that uncertainty and change may exist throughout the school year.

**Please note that the CBE international student program is an in-person program and we are unable to offer an online learning option for international students.

Please familiarize yourself with the CBE’s re-entry plan.

Will international students be eligible to enter Canada for the 2020-2021 school year?

Latest from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as of August 1

Travel exemptions and restrictions for international students
You are exempt from the travel restrictions and are eligible to enter Canada if you are travelling for a non-discretionary or non-optional purpose and

  • You are an international student who has a valid study permit (having an approval letter is not the same as having a study permit in hand)
  • you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, or
  • you’re coming from the United States

When you travel to Canada
Make sure you have proof that you are exempt from the travel restrictions and that you are travelling for a non-optional or non-discretionary purpose.  When the border services officer greets you, they will look at several factors, including whether

  • you’re already living in Canada
    • If you are already living in Canada, your return is non-discretionary.
  • You are able to complete a 14-day quarantine period as soon as you arrive at your final destination
  • you begin studying after you complete your quarantine
  • you need to be in Canada for your program (for laboratories, workshops)
  • pursuing your studies online is not an option at your school or not possible from your home country (due to internet restrictions or bandwidth limitation)

You must also bring

  • a valid study permit, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit, if you are coming from the United States, or
  • a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, if you are coming from any other country

Before you travel, you can contact the Border Information Service for more information.
A border services officer will make a final decision on your eligibility to enter Canada when you arrive.

What documents do I need to bring with me when I re-enter Canada?

When returning, you will want to have the following documents in your possession:

  • Your original letter of acceptance from the Calgary Board of Education
  • A separate letter from Global Learning indicating the in-person requirement of your program (please contact our office at if you require this letter)
  • Current students:  a valid study permit
  • New students:  a port of entry letter of introduction that shows you were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, if you’re coming from any other country
  • The quarantine guideline document showing you understand the quarantine requirements found at
  • Name, address of host family and/or custodian
  • Contact information for person picking up at airport
  • StudyInsured health insurance card

This may not be a full list and students are responsible for ensuring they know everything required to present to a border services officer.

What are the health requirements for travellers to Canada?

To travel to Canada, you must

Retrieved from

For students who have arranged their own accommodations, what are the quarantine requirements upon arrival?

Please refer to Protocols for Pre-Departure Travel Arrival into Canada (PDF)

For students in Canada Homestay Network’s homestay program, what are the quarantine requirements upon arrival?

Please refer to CHN’s Safe Arrival Protocol (PDF)

What is the CBE international student refund policy for the 2020-2021 school year?

We have amended our standard refund policy for requests that relate to COVID-19 only.  All other requests will be subject to our standard refund policy:

  • If your study permit is denied or you are denied entrance to Canada for reasons that are out of your control:  You will receive a full tuition refund (less the application fee).
  • If the program is cancelled by Calgary Board of Education before the start date of your program: you will receive a full refund (less the application fee).
  • If you withdraw or are withdrawn from the Calgary Board of Education: Once your program has begun (and the student has been in attendance) as per the Duration of Program (study) dates on the letter of acceptance, no refund will be given.

Late Arrivals: When a student arrives late, there will be no refund for the time period missed.

What is Canada Homestay Network’s Refund Policy?

Please refer to CHN’s COVID Refund Policy.

Can students start late in the 2020-2021 school year?

This depends on the level of study. Elementary and junior high students can start up until February of the school year.  High schools students can start up to two weeks late and after that, they would need to consider deferring their program (age dependent).  There are no refunds for late arrivals at any level.

Is the Global Learning office open for in-person inquiries such as paying fees for the next school year?

The Global Learning office is now closed for in-person service but we are virtually operational and can be reached via e-mail at

If you need to make a payment, you can do so using  our money transfer service, Flywire:  Please do not use any other payment method as our office is closed.
Calgary Board of Education has partnered with Flywire to streamline the payment process.  This allows you to pay securely from any country (including Canada) and any bank, typically in your home currency. By making your payment with Flywire you can:

  • Track your payments from start to finish 
  • Save on bank fees and exchange rates 
  • Contact their multilingual customer support team with any questions, day or night 

How will students get updated information about anything related to their studies?

  • Continue to check this FAQ document from the home page of our website at
  • Visit our corporate website at and your school’s website for news and information as it is updated routinely.
  • Ensure students have the international student coordinator’s contact information (contact the school’s main office if you do not have this information) and that the coordinator knows how to reach the student via e-mail or text for all school updates. 
  • Have the custodian regularly check e-mail (the one the school has on file) for updates.

International students have health insurance through StudyInsured.  What coverage do they provide for COVID-19?

  • From StudyInsured:  Below are a few some general points that we are telling clients are important regarding inbound international student plans:
    • Our plans would cover unforeseen emergency expenses related to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the same as any other illness, if it is contracted in Canada after the effective date of the policy.
    • Any pre-existing medical condition, including COVID-19 illness, would not be covered if it has not been stable for the required amount of time (90 days) before the effective policy date. This is something that the doctor in Canada would ask the student when they started experiencing their symptoms, to determine if it was before arrival to Canada. We also will contact their medical records from the student’s home country to determine if it was pre-existing or not.
    • Expenses incurred in an insured person's home country are not covered, unless they are travelling on a school trip.
    • Further expenses in Canada related to an illness that originated in the home country would also be excluded.

This is a very stressful situation.  Are there local resources in Calgary if students are finding they are struggling to cope?

  • StudyInsured phone line 1-877-234-5327 (mental health, crisis, counselors)
  • [24/7] 403-264-teen (8336)  with interpreter (Youth crisis line- Distress Center)
  • [24/7] Distress Center 403-266-4357
  • [24/7] Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
  • [24/7] Wood’s Home Community Resource Team (psychology, social work): 403-299-9699 or 1-800-563-6106
  • [24/7] Distress and Suicide Prevention Line of Southwestern Alberta (mental distress or feeling suicidal): 403-327-7905 or 1-888-787-2880.
  • Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • Alberta Mental Health Crisis Line 1-877-303-2642
  • Mental Health Mobile Response Team  403-266-1605
  • Aspiria mental health app