This post is accurate and up to date as of April 27th 2021 and will be continuously updated as the situation unfolds.
In light of numerous questions we’ve been receiving from both current and future program participants, English Wizards would like to make the following announcement regarding the COVID-19 situation and how it may affect your current and/or future participation in the English Wizards program.
Before we go any further, we would like to answer the #1 question that’s probably on your mind:
All English Wizards programs are continuing to operating and accept new applications. We have not cancelled any of our programs since the pandemic hit Poland last spring, and we have no intention of doing so in the future.
Polish students are continuing to study English, and thus schools are continuing to be in search of qualified ESL teachers. This has been the case since the SARS-CoV-2 virus first hit Poland in March, and we do not foresee the demand for the English language in Poland going down anytime in the near future.
Although Poland, like most of the world, has not been spared from the social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the continent recovers from the pandemic, Poland’s economy remains one of the strongest in Europe. Throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, we have not seen any decrease in the demand for native English teachers. Despite some restrictions on international travel, none of our Wizards have had any issues traveling to Poland from their home countries this year. Moving forward, we can only see the situation improving as Poland rolls out a massive vaccination drive.
As you probably have many more questions, we have prepared a detailed FAQ to answer as many questions as possible. If you have any more questions, you are always welcome to contact us and we will respond promptly.
What's the situation currently like in Poland? Is there a "lockdown?"
When the COVID-19 virus hit Poland in early March, the Polish government acted extremely swiftly, closing schools and other places of assembly and closing the borders to non-essential travelers when the country still had less than 50 cases. Although Poland never locked down as strictly as some other countries in Europe, the early action paid off and the country was able to reopen almost entirely in late May.
In late May, daily life in Poland returned to what it was before the pandemic. Schools, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and sporting events resumed, and Poland reopened its borders to international tourism. Since then, Poland’s rate of COVID-19 cases per capita has remained close to the EU average.
Case rates did increase again in mid-October in Poland as well as the rest of Europe, and the Polish government once again responded swiftly by implementing targeted measures in regions with a high number of cases (so called “red zones”). Although there has been no lockdown, red zone restrictions include the closure of restaurants, bars, malls, and gyms, and banning sporting events and large gatherings.
As cases continued to increase throughout the month of November, all of Poland was placed in the “red zone.” This means that as of writing, most gastronomy, entertainment venues, and schools for students aged 10 and up remain closed. The good news is that the measures are working, and as cases have begun to plateau, the government has begun the process of reopening, with shopping centers reopening at the end of November, and hotels, museums, ski slopes, and facilities related to sports and tourism reopening on February 12. Although no official information has been released, most predict that the economy will reopen further in the month of May as cases continue to drop and more Poles get vaccinated.
What social distancing measures will I be expected to abide by in Poland?
Like in most of Europe and largely the rest of the world, social distancing restrictions and guidelines in Poland are changing day-to-day as the case numbers go up and down. For the most up to date information on current COVID-19 related regulations in Poland, please refer to the Polish government’s official website.
As of writing, “red zone” restrictions, which currently encompasses all of Poland, include mandatory mask-wearing in public places, the closure of restaurants and bars for dine-in services, closure of gyms, restrictions on the number of passengers on public transit, and a ban on gatherings of over 10 people.
Many private institutions such as schools, restaurants, parks, malls, and sports facilities, have also enacted their own measures to ensure social distancing. We remind all of our Wizards of the importance of abiding by social distancing measures imposed by not only the government but also any privately controlled public space.
Are schools in Poland open and hiring new teachers?
They sure are!
Preschools in Poland re-opened their doors in early May 2020 after the first wave of COVID-19, and by the end of June most private language centers (where the majority of Wizards work) had reopened their doors.
Public schools resumed live classes at the start of the new academic year in September, and with that, the business was booming again for after school language centers. English Wizards welcomed over 100 teachers from all over the world onto our program in the fall, and we saw the normal massive hiring wave in September and October with schools all over the country rushing to hire new teachers for the academic year.
With the spike of cases in mid-October, public and private schools for children aged 10 and up went back to online education. Although this regulation did not affect private language centers, many language centers have decided to move their classes online voluntarily. However, this has had little effect on our Wizards’ workdays beyond the normal academic variations that a teacher must be prepared for when switching over to online learning. With public schools reopening for the spring semester at the end of January, most private language centers are following suite.
Will I be required to wear a mask while teaching? Will my class be limited in size?
Currently, there are no requirements for mask-wearing or social distancing in the classroom.
Nevertheless, we remind all of our Wizards that they must respect the school’s social distancing measures. Despite the lack of a legal requirement, many schools have required teachers and/or students to wear a mask in the classroom, or have limited classroom activities to those which can be practiced at a safe distance. It is important to discuss all of this with your school’s director.
Are Poland's borders open? Will I be able to enter?
Although Poland’s external EU borders remain closed to tourism, all of our non-EU Wizards arriving to Poland come with work permits and/or residence visas. Poland is continuing to allow travelers of all nationalities to enter provided that they have a work permit or residence visa. We are continuing to assist all of our non-EU Wizards in obtaining the necessary documentation to work legally in Poland, and enter Poland without any trouble.
Will Poland's travel restrictions make it more difficult for me to get to Poland?
If you’re coming from outside the EU, travel restrictions may make things slightly more challenging, though by no means impossible.
During normal times, most non-EU citizens can come to Poland without a visa and apply for their work permit and residence visa within Poland. Unfortunately, due to current travel restrictions, this is not possible, as most non-EU nationals can only enter Poland with a valid work permit or residence visa. This is what we always encourage our Wizards to do, so it should not prove to be a deal-breaker. For more information, see our visas section.
Travel restrictions also mean that fewer people are traveling, so there are also fewer flights available. This means that you may find it more difficult to find a flight from your country to Poland and the flights that are available will likely be more expensive than during normal times. Luckily for our Wizards, our support staff are experts in the travel industry and are assisting each one of our Wizards in arranging the most affordable and convenient travel as possible.
Is there a requirement to quarantine or get tested for COIVD-19 in order to travel to Poland?
From January 23rd, all international travelers arriving to Poland must present a negative SARS-CoV-2 test (either PCR or antigen) in order to enter Poland. The test results must be less than 48 hours old. Any travelers arriving without a negative test must self-quarantine for 10 days.
For travelers with a negative SARS-CoV-2 test, there is no longer any requirement to self-isolate. Furthermore, travelers who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are also exempt from the requirement to present a negative test or self-isolate.
Full information on the requirements to enter Poland can be found on the website of the Polish Border Guard (in Polish).
Is it possible that Poland will reinstate border restrictions and I'll be unable to travel?
It is always possible that Poland may tighten border controls if the case numbers increase in neighboring countries. But the chances that this will make it impossible for you to come to Poland as an English Wizard are extremely slim.
Even during Poland’s strictest travel ban, enacted in mid-March, which banned almost all non-Polish citizens from entering Poland, foreigners with work permits or residence visas were still allowed to enter. Poland’s economy relies heavily on foreign migrant workers, so it is extremely unlikely that the Polish government will extend any travel ban to include holders of work visas.
It is possible that the obligation to self-quarantine for 10 days may be reinstated, as it recently was during the winter holiday period from late December until mid January. For this reason, we are reminding all of our Wizards to prepare for the possibility that a ten-day self-quarantine may be required.
If I am vaccinated against COVID-19, am I exempt from these travel restrictions?
If you are vaccinated against COVID-19, you can present your vaccination certificate when crossing the border in lieu of a negative test in order to be exempt from having to quarantine.
If I have to quarantine, do I have to pay for this?
When required, Poland’s mandatory quarantine is a self-quarantine, meaning you spend the ten days of quarantine in your own home or place of residence. So no, you do not have to pay a fee or use any government facilities. But you must have a place of residence. This could be any hotel, hostel, or Airbnb.
If you do not have accommodation arranged prior to arriving, we recommend looking into our accommodation packages for comfortable and affordable places to spend your possible 10 days of self-quarantine.
If case numbers increase, is there a possibility that schools will close and I'll lose my job?
With the rise of COVID-19 cases in October and November, the government has began implementing more restrictions to curb the spread using a “traffic light” system to target areas with a high number of cases. Although these restrictions including closing secondary schools and universities, as of writing there has been no mandatory closure of private language centers and preschools, where the vast majority of our Wizards are working. Although many language centers have voluntarily moved classes online, this has only had a minimal effect on the job market.
With all of this being said, restrictions are being updated constantly as case numbers rise and fall, so there is always the possibility that there may be another total shutdown of the educational sector. School directors are aware of this, and students are equally concerned about the possibility of missing classes which they’ve paid for. As such, nearly every school has maintained their online learning capabilities, and are ready to switch classes back to the virtual classroom if schools shut again.
Will it be possible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in Poland?
Poland is an active participant in the EU’s COVID vaccine rollout and is rolling out the vaccine at a faster rate than many of its Western European neighbors. All persons living in Poland legally, including foreign workers, are eligible to receive the vaccine, free of charge, on the same grounds as Polish citizens.
As of writing, all persons in Poland over 40 years of age are eligible to receive the vaccine. From May 9th, appointments will be opened to all adults 18+.
For more information about the vaccine rollout in Poland, see the Polish government’s official website (in Polish).
I am from the United States. I've read that Americans are currently banned from entering the European Union. How will I be able to travel to Poland?
Americans (and most other non-EU nationals) are currently banned from traveling to the European Union for the purpose of tourism. The EU’s travel ban explicitly exempts people with residence visas and those traveling for work-related purposes.
We are continuing to accept Americans on all of our programs, and thus far none of our American Wizards have had any trouble entering Poland with the work permit that we provide and residence visa obtained from the Polish consulates in the US.
I am from Australia. Our government is currently not allowing us to leave our country. How will I be able to travel to Poland?
Many governments around the world, including Australia, are continuing to bar their citizens from traveling abroad for tourism purposes. The governments of Australia has explicitly listed overseas travel for the purposes of work as an exemption from their restrictions, provided that you have a work permit and residence visa from the country you are traveling to
We have already assisted a number of Australian Wizards in safely traveling to Poland and can provide all the necessary documentation. Thus far none have had any issues leaving their country nor entering Poland.
Once I am in Poland, will I be able to travel around Europe?
For the most part, yes!
If you are not an EU citizen, you will have a Polish residence visa and/or Residence Permit, which will make you a resident of Poland in the eyes of other EU countries. This will allow you to travel to almost all EU countries that Polish citizens are currently allowed to visit.
We still remind our Wizards that every EU country is implementing travel restrictions differently, and many are still not welcoming Polish residents for tourism purposes, so it is very important to do your research before traveling. The European Union maintains a simple online resource of travel restrictions on intra-EU travel. We also recommend contacting the embassy of your desired destination country before making any travel arrangements.
Is English Wizards continuing to host social events?
We sure are!
We resumed our Krakow social event calendar in June when the restrictions on social events were lifted, and continue to operate them, whenever possible, in compliance with Poland’s social distancing measures. We plan to launch a calendar of social events in the cities of Warsaw, Gdansk, Wroclaw, and Poznan this fall.
We are still planning going ahead with our key events scheduled for January and February 2021, namely our orientation program in Krakow and the training courses of our Internship Programs. You can follow our social events from overseas on our Instagram.