USC notified students last week that study abroad programs set to occur in China this spring have been canceled. Students speculate that it is in relation to the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus.
According to an official email sent on Jan. 27th by the Dornsife Office of Overseas Studies, “Study abroad in China for this spring semester has been canceled.”
Anthony Bailey, VP for Strategic and Global Initiatives, emailed students in Marshall School’s World Bachelor of Business (WBB) program that USC programs in China have been canceled. Different departments on campus are working with their students who had planned to study abroad to create a plan of action for the current semester, according to Bailey.
The Novel Coronavirus, which can cause respiratory illness and pneumonia-like syndromes, first entered the US on Jan. 21st in Washington state. Since then, 11 other cases have been confirmed in the U.S., six of which have been diagnosed in California. The Coronavirus has infected more than 17,000 people worldwide and killed more than 300 of them, according to The Los Angeles Times.
According to the Chief Health Officer for USC Student Health, Sarah Van Orman, “The risk of these kinds of conditions is as much from the disruption it can cause than it is from the disease itself.” Van Orman explained that influenza currently poses a greater threat than Coronavirus to residents of California. However, Orman notes that going to areas with ongoing outbreaks is a threat to all due to the instability of health care in such areas.
Most students embarking on USC study abroad programs in China were scheduled to begin in February and have not left the United States. The email sent to students last week said that they were welcome to enroll in classes for the spring semester at the University Park Campus as an alternative option.
“Each of USC’s schools sponsoring study abroad programs to China has worked with their students on alternative arrangements, including study in another country and here at UPC for the Spring semester,” Bailey said.
USC is not alone in taking these kinds of precautionary measures. According to an official statement on the University of California Education Abroad Program (UCEAP) website, all study abroad programs to Beijing and Shanghai at University of California schools have been temporarily suspended. The decision was made as a result of the Department of State raising the China Travel Advisory to Level 4 on Jan. 31st.
Students in the WBB have had a tumultuous experience. Sophomore students enrolled in the program are supposed to spend the year at the Hong Kong Institute of Science and Technology in Hong Kong, China. The cohort of students was removed from Hong Kong in November as a result of protests and civil unrest and forced to finish their semester of studies online.
The students were scheduled to return to Hong Kong to resume their studies this spring, but now this programming has also been placed on hold. According to an official email from the WBB program provided by Sophomore Karina Spinazzola, the spring term classes will now be held through “live interactive on-line teaching” instead of face-to-face classrooms until further notice.
“This is a messy situation that no one could have done anything about,” Spinazzola said. “I don’t think anyone could have expected a very bad virus outbreak to happen. It just makes you appreciate the times when everything goes as planned.”
Student’s junior and senior years in the WBB program course plan will not be affected--the program will be heading to Milan, Italy next year as planned.
“[The program] is trying to figure it out, making sure to give out the most updated information and making sure everyone is safe,” Spinazzola said. “it's just something you can hope for.”
For more information regarding USC resources, visit the USC Coronavirus information page.