The BYU Jerusalem Center will reopen this spring after almost two years of cancellations and delays, the center announced Wednesday in a news release.
“Late last year we announced the possibilities of reopening the Jerusalem Center with a Spring/Summer 2022 student program, but dependent upon travel and Covid-19 restrictions,” the release said. “With the lifting of many restrictions, we are happy to announce that the Spring/Summer 2022 program will move forward as planned.”
The decision to reopen the BYU Jerusalem Center came as Israel opened its airports and access to border crossings. Israel has a high vaccination percentage and has also witnessed a decline in COVID hospitalizations and death rates, said Jim Kearl, assistant to the BYU president for the Jerusalem Center.
“This is a great thing for us,” Kearl said. “This is a terrific program. Students are influenced in lots of good ways. We’re very happy that things are opening up and we’re going to be able to take students again and make use of a large, spectacular building that is designed to provide the atmosphere in which they can have a unique experience. It’s sad to see that building sit empty for almost two years.”
Israel closed its borders in March 2020. Students and faculty service couples returned home shortly thereafter. The BYU Jerusalem Center canceled its programs for the 2020-21 school year in July 2020 due local COVID-19 conditions and travel restrictions, the Deseret News reported.
As part of the reopening, students at the BYU Jerusalem Center will be required to follow certain procedures, such as:
- COVID-19 vaccinations are required.
- KN-95 or equivalent masks will be required at the airport, during flights, and as requested by Jerusalem Center administration.
- No foreign travel to or from U.S. within two weeks prior to departure.
- Isolate as much as possible at least two weeks prior to departure to minimize risk of COVID-19 exposure.
“Students are going to have to be patient in ways they probably aren’t on campus and haven’t been, and everybody is going to have to be patient because while the border is open,” Kearl said. “There are lots of issues associated with crossing borders now with COVID and that’s going to require a lot of patience.”
Traveling throughout the region is a key feature of the Jerusalem Center programs.
The first orientation for students going to the BYU Jerusalem Center is scheduled for late April, Kearl said.
More information will be provided in the future. Students can expect the BYU Jerusalem Center programs will remain operational on a continual basis, the news release said.