Amid mounting concerns over COVID-19, college students are faced with a difficult choice: to travel or not to travel over spring break.
Last week, universities in Los Angeles and across the country sent advisories to students, begging them to consider the consequences of their travel plans.
In an email sent to students Monday night, UCLA chancellor Gene Block advised against traveling to China, South Korea, Iran, or Italy. Other universities, like University of Pennsylvania, urged students to avoid traveling at all. “Amid this uncertainty, any travel, domestic or international, could heighten your risk of exposure.” Emails wrote
Major universities in two areas of high risk, Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area, were shut down Friday — the beginning of what is expected to be a wave of campus closures in coming weeks.
Late Friday, Stanford University cancelled classes for the last two weeks of the winter quarter, starting Monday. “To the extent feasible,” classes will be moved to “online formats in place of in-person instruction,” the university’s provost, Persis Drell, said. Stanford, with about 17,000 undergraduate and graduate students, confirmed a doctor in the medical school had the disease.
Earlier Friday, the University of Washington told its 50,000 students that courses would move online on Monday after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19. Seattle University, with 7,300 students, and the Seattle campus of Boston’s Northeastern University have also moved to online courses amid the outbreak. Washington state was the first to report a U.S. coronavirus case on Jan. 21. More than 84 people there are now infected, and 14 have died.
Meanwhile, another layer of schools with no reported coronavirus cases are testing online classes next week or warning students to be prepared for similar actions if they become necessary. (GW, Princeton University)
The University of Southern California on Friday said it would conduct lectures and seminars online rather than in classrooms March 11-13 as one of its “precautionary measures to ensure that we are prepared for any potential disruptions to teaching and learning at USC.”
Duke University issued a campus-wide alert Thursday with guidance for students leaving for spring break, advising them to cancel unnecessary travel and to avoid heavily populated events or venues.
Duke, the University of Chicago, and New York University are asking students and faculty to register their travel plans, even locally.
Other schools are urging students to avoid leaving the country for spring break. Cornell University on Thursday advised “anyone who is planning to travel internationally for personal reasons to refrain from doing so.” The university said visitors from hard-hit countries, including China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan, would not be allowed on its various campuses including the main one in Ithaca, N.Y.
Columbia University, which is also warning against international travel during spring break, is cancelling spring campus tours for undergraduate admissions and programming for incoming, admitted students.
“Our campus does remain open. However, we are taking this temporary action to ensure the safety and well-being of our entire Columbia community and campus visitors,” the university said.
New York Law School temporarily closed its doors three days this past week, based on the concern that a student had come in contact with a lawyer who contracted COVID-19. The student in the Manhattan-based school tested negative, according to a Friday announcement. The campus has reopened, a spokeswoman said.
The effect is greater on international students, who seek to visit their home-countries –outside the US- for spring break as universities claim that re-entering USA could potentially become difficult (self-quarantine, restrictions in attending classes for two weeks, checks at the airport).
With information from MarketWatch.com and The New York Post