As coronavirus sweeps the globe, it is affecting Salisbury University students and faculty on campus and abroad.
SU has three students whose trips were disrupted by COVID-19. The university also has two other students in Japan who could be affected in the future.
In the past week, all study abroad programs in Italy and South Korea were suspended. The university suspended the programs when the U.S. Department of State raised its travel advisory to a level three on Wednesday, Feb. 26 for South Korea and Friday, Feb 28 for Italy.
The Center for International Education has been in constant communication with those individual students.
Assistant Provost for International Education Dr. Brian Stiegler arranged the departure of the students abroad.
“From the university’s perspective, our number-one concern is the students’ welfare. The second is academic progress towards a degree,” Stielger said.
The two students in Italy have either been taking classes or participating in an internship there, and they hope to able to continue with those activities remotely when they return home.
For the student in South Korea, his situation is a little different.
Sophomore international political economics major, Eli Rush is currently studying at Chonnam University in Gwangju, South Korea, and he has decided to stay there amid the coronavirus outbreaks in northern South Korea.
When explaining his reasoning for staying, he said it was mostly due to
“I have one of two options. Either I stay here or go back home, back to Salisbury,” Rush said.
In South Korea, the spring semester has not even started yet. The Korean government pushed back the start of the semester to March 16. Rush is currently 10 days into his 14-day self-quarantine so he will not miss any class.
If he would return to SU now, there is a high chance that he would lose out on the entire semester.
Rush is currently staying in Korea against the wishes of the university. Even so, he stated that the university has been extremely helpful with getting him to South Korea and allowing him to stay.
“Salisbury has been tremendous in this whole endeavor. They have been really supportive of my decision, even though I am sort of going against them,” Rush said.
Rush will be allowed to stay on the Chonnam campus unless the government cancels class. In that case, he will return to the U.S.
Summer programs in Italy and fall programs in both South Korea and Italy have been suspended due to the recent outbreaks. However, the programs are not canceled completely.
The only summer program that has been cancelled is the global seminar program in South Korea.
“We don’t expect this to last forever. We want to be able to step it back when it’s proper,” Stiegler said. “In theory, we could suspend those and then unsuspend those, in time for students to still engage.”
The idea is that when it is safe to return to those countries, the programs will be unsuspended. In the meantime, Stiegler suggests that if this summer or fall semesters are the only times a student can study abroad, then they should apply to a different location.
Another student, Alexander Madoo, was studying in Italy when the university contacted him saying it had suspended his program.
“We got an email at 3 a.m. saying our program had been cancelled and that we had to return to the U.S.,” Madoo said.
Three days later, he was on a plane returning home and is currently waiting to hear if he can take online classes for the rest of the semester. Otherwise, he risks losing a semester of credits, too.
Students who were abroad are not the only ones impacted by coronavirus. SU is a global campus with many international students and faculty members.
Those individuals may not be directly impacted, but they possibly could know friends and family back home who are.
Stiegler expressed concern for those students and their well-being. The Center for International Education has been in communication with international students in regard to their situations here at SU.
The CIE is working diligently to make sure all those affected in any way by COVID-19 know that they have a place here at SU.
“We are very worried about our Salisbury family,” Stielger said.
By ANNIE GEITNER
Featured photo: CDC Image/ Wikipedia Image