Coronavirus thwarts travel

An email sent out to faculty and students by Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Maynard Schaus told students the current status of precautionary measures being taken by the university to protect students due to the fact that there are now seven confirmed cases in Virginia. 

The email highlighted the importance of good hygiene practices and shared how university staff has upped sanitation efforts. It also shared that all university sponsored spring air-travel has been cancelled for study away as well as for sports teams. 

The email also said that professors are currently preparing to be able to offer course content online so that class meetings will not put students at risk. 

As published in the last issue of the Marlin Chronicle, the Coronavirus has caused major disruptions to global economies and has crippled the flight industry with travel bans. Yet, the Coronavirus has managed to spread even farther in the past weeks as Worldometer has reported 118,836 cases of the virus, and 4,269 deaths globally. 

Within the United States, Worldometer reports that there are currently 971 confirmed  cases and 30 deaths linked to the virus.

Given the current travel restrictions and heightened risk of contraction when travelling, many students’ study away programs have been affected. Within our university, several students have been required to return from their host countries in an attempt to keep them from being exposed to the virus.

Mandy Reinig, Director of The Study Away Program at Virginia Wesleyan University, stated that the University took a very proactive approach to bring students home ahead of the virus’s spread. 

Reinig said that of the ten students that are currently abroad, three were brought back home from host universities in Florence, Italy and South Korea. “In Korea, the program provider closed the program and asked all the students to return home, and Italy has basically closed the country, they’ve told everyone that there is no travel: no one can come in and no one can come out, but we were way ahead of that,” said Reinig.

Reinig also shared that, for the student who was in Italy, they will be able to complete their coursework online from home. For the other students who returned from Italy, they are taking both classes online and some courses offered on campus. The student from Korea “has decided to take a leave of absence for the semester,” said Reinig.

“They’ve only been home a week … and I have support of the administration to be in contact with them … and the idea is that we [the university] will be able to provide for them to go again … it wasn’t their fault that the world exploded with the Coronavirus,” said Reinig.

Reinig also shared that “all Spring and Summer study away courses have been cancelled, and that The Lighthouse is currently working with professors to determine what courses will be offered during January term.” 

Reinig also said that some of the courses offered will be repeats, as professors have been unable to go and research the new courses the school was hoping to offer due to the travel restrictions. 

As of now, The Lighthouse knows for sure that the annual trip to Maui, Hawaii will be offered, as well as a business course in Morocco. As things start to calm down, professors will be able to go and research their locations to potentially be able to offer the courses for January term and for next Summer.

At the time of publication, the United Nations World Health Organization has categorized the coronavirus as a pandemic.

Dalton Powers