This post is accurate and up to date as of December 1st 2020 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:
English Wizards is still accepting applications for all of our programs. We have no plans to cancel nor suspend any of our teaching programs in Poland.
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.
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 schools, bars, and restaurants scheduled to reopen at the start of the new year.
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 all 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.
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 schools in Poland open and hiring new teachers?
For the most part, yes!
Preschools in Poland re-opened their doors in early May 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.
Are Poland's borders open? Will I be able to enter?
Yes! Poland re-opened their borders for tourism in June, and has made no indication that they’ll be closing again.
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?
EU citizens and travelers coming from within the EU are no longer subject to any quarantine requirements when arriving in Poland. Certain people arriving from outside the EU may still be subject to a ten-day self-quarantine upon arrival at the discretion of the Polish authorities. This decision is made on a case-by-case basis by the authorities at the airport or point of arrival.
The Polish authorities have been becoming more lax about the quarantine requirement since June, and of over 70 Wizards from outside the EU that joined our program between August and October, only 2 were subject to self-quarantine. With this being said, we still remind all of our incoming non-EU Wizards to be prepared for the possibility that you may have to self-quarantine for ten days when you land in Poland.
There is no requirement to get tested for SARS-CoV-2 in order to travel to Poland. However, for the safety of our Wizards and the greater local communities, we encourage all of our Wizards to get tested before traveling if this is possible. It is also likely that your airline and/or layover airport will require a negative SARS-CoV-2 test in order to travel.
Is it possible that Poland will reinstate border restrictions and I'll be unable to travel?
It is always possible that Poland will 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 very heavily on foreign migrant workers, so it is extremely unlikely that the Polish government will extend any travel ban to include those coming to work.
It is possible that the obligation to self-quarantine for two weeks may be reinstated or reenforced in the future. 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 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.
If you do not have an apartment arranged prior to arriving, we recommend looking into our accommodation packages for comfortable and affordable places to spend your possible two weeks of self-quarantine.
With case numbers increasing, 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, thus far we have not seen this having any effect on jobs or hours.
With all of this being said, restrictions are being updated constantly as case numbers rise and fall in different parts of the country, 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.
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 to go 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.