Protect – American Film Institute

Frequently Asked Questions

The latest in AFI’s Covid-19 safe practices and policies.
Last update: Aug. 7, 2020

AFI intends to reopen the AFI campus with modified in-person classes for Conservatory Fellows on September 8, to the extent permitted by local and state regulations and health and safety guidelines. Additionally, there will be a number of classes offered online. Our hybrid model is flexible and ensures that health and safety remain the primary goal in these uncertain times.

All AFI Faculty and staff who can carry out their work duties from home will continue to do so until further notice.

AFI is currently making modifications to its physical space to conform to current health and safety standards. We will also be offering some classes outside under expansive awnings across our 8 ½ acre campus. The Conservatory is also adding between 20 and 25 new Faculty and staff to accommodate the state’s guidelines of six-foot distancing in classroom spaces. AFI Fellows, Faculty and staff will be asked to wear a face covering, maintain social distancing and report regularly on your personal health should you experience any symptoms of COVID-19.

If a Fellow or employee has a fever, respiratory symptoms or has returned from overseas travel in the past 14 days, they will be required to work or study from home, take sick leave (if available) or a leave of absence.

Prior to the AFI campus reopening, a third-party cleaning crew and the AFI janitorial staff will thoroughly clean the campus. Once reopened, heightened cleaning procedures will continue with particular attention paid to high-traffic and high-touch areas including handrails, door handles, elevator buttons and shared spaces. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers will be installed around campus, as supplies allow. Although hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, practicing proper hand-washing technique is considered to be more effective.

The AFI janitorial staff will pay particular attention to keeping restrooms on campus clean and well-stocked. Each restroom will be cleaned and disinfected multiple times daily in addition to being regularly restocked with supplies for handwashing.

All AFI Fellows, Faculty and staff must wear a cloth face covering at all times while on the AFI Campus. Face coverings should be routinely washed in hot water and fully dried before reusing and a newly clean mask should be worn each day.  

In addition to maintaining six feet of distance between people whenever possible, limiting touching your face can also help keep you healthy. Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently and sneeze/cough into your arm to reduce the spread of the virus in respiratory droplets, a common transmission pathway for the virus.

As established in an update to AFI’s travel policies in March 2020, all AFI-related travel remains suspended and subject to approval by the CEO until further notice.

We understand that personal travel may be a necessity, however, please be aware that any Fellow, Faculty or staff member returning from travel via an airplane or outside of California will not be admitted onto the campus until they self-quarantine at home for 14 days. After which time, and as long as the individual remains symptom free, they may come to campus with strict adherence to social distancing and facial covering guidelines. Additional testing may be required.

AFI has also secured two off-campus soundstages to expand our production footprint when current restrictions are lifted. These spaces will serve as lab environments to allow for both production and class activity. Additionally, AFI is adding a COVID Compliance Officer and a Public Health Professional to our team to assist navigating new production protocols.

AFI has also created a Production Protocol Task Force. The DGA and SAG-AFTRA (both represented by their Presidents on the AFI Board of Trustees) were among leaders in the world of production that released guidelines called “The Safe Way Forward.” AFI’s Trustees recommend our curriculum follow these guidelines, and this Task Force is charged with helping to model new rules in the AFI production schedule. 

International Fellows will receive a separate letter to address concerns around returning or traveling to the United States as issues vary country to country.

The Department of State has announced that F-1 students from the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and Ireland can now travel to the US. However, there is still a ban preventing travel from China, Iran and Brazil with no end date specified.

For the latest updates, please visit:

The Conservatory has dedicated Task Forces working on creating and implementing safety and health protocols for the campus, classes, and production.  Efforts include preparing the campus to safely accommodate a pre-determined number of individuals in this space, with priority given to AFI Conservatory Fellows and faculty. Facilities are being retrofitted for physical distancing and protection and increased outdoor academic spaces have been identified.

The reopening plan also includes provisions for fellows who may need to physically distance for short quarantine periods and is addressing longer periods of absence with customized programming for those individuals.

Leadership continues to receive ongoing guidance from professionals in risk assessment and management and is identifying a full-time Covid compliance officer and health professional to provide ongoing oversight and expertise on our management of the space. Additional staffing includes counselors in Fellow Affairs to meet any increased demand for support services any fellow may need.

At the heart of our safety and good physical and mental health is ensuring that there is a strong sense of community, engagement, and commitment to behaviors that benefit the whole. We will be asking every member who chooses to belong to the AFI bubble to agree to abide to a set of guidelines which have been developed by a group of representative Fellows themselves.

No. As long as you remain enrolled and in Active status and are making normal progress in your course of study, the 5-month rule does not apply under COVID conditions.

We will work with Fellows in such situations to the degree it is possible.  As each individual may have a different timeline than others, Fellows who find themselves in this situation should reach out to Carl Smith, International Advisor ([email protected]) for assistance.

We will work to make accommodations to the extent possible considering the state of current events and the fact that a significant portion of the program is designed as practical, hands-on, collaborative work. Again, as this could be different for each individual, Fellows who find themselves in this situation should reach out to Fellow Affairs ([email protected]) for assistance.

This issue is being discussed with USCIS but no decision has been made. Currently the answer is no. You must be in the US to apply for OPT.

You may work remotely if your employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess your engagement using electronic means.

Yes, provided that CPT is integral to your program of study, is authorized before the start date, and your employer has an office outside of the United States or the employer can assess your engagement using electronic means.

Yes, your program would be officially extended in SEVIS and you would receive a new I-20 reflecting the new end date of your program.