Boston University’s Office of the Provost announced in an email to students Wednesday that all university-sponsored travel over spring break has been canceled as a result of the spread of coronavirus. The announcement comes as a response to guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control, as well as statements from Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Health.
In addition, the Community Service Center announced the cancellation of their Alternative Spring Break programs. An email from Orpheo Speer, director of the Community Service Center, stated all students would receive refunds.
Students currently studying abroad were advised in an email from Gareth McFeely, executive director of BU’s Study Abroad program, to either remain at their current site, if they feel comfortable doing so, or to return to their homes. McFeely wrote that the university does not have the capacity to house returning students on campus.
These options were presented to students studying abroad in London, Paris, Grenoble, Madrid, Geneva, Dublin, Dresden and Copenhagen, locations to which the coronavirus has spread. Students who choose to leave their programs will not be able to change their minds and must remain at home once departing.
International students were advised in the email to contact the study abroad department before electing to leave their current programs.
McFeely wrote in the email that the university will be working hard to make sure students can continue their academic work if they choose to leave their programs.
“We hope to be able to offer the majority of courses remotely, but recognize that it is difficult to move some of our courses into an online format. We will work with you on a case-by-case basis,” McFeely wrote. “There may be additional complexities for those students who are directly enrolled at a partner institution or who take certain classes at a partner; we will work with partner schools on the possible options, which may be more limited.”
Colin Riley, a BU spokesperson, said the university has made these decisions out of the best interest for their students.
“We’re doing it in [students’] best interest, and we know it’s a very difficult decision interrupt the life of a young person,” Riley said. “Hopefully, they’ll understand.”
Riley said the cancellation of both international and national travel was done out of an abundance of caution in preventing coronavirus on campus.
“This is a situation around the globe. Hopefully, by taking these steps, we will mitigate any spread or potential cases at the university,” Riley said. “There are no cases at the university, and we hope that remains that way.”
Hayden Dickerson, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said he agrees with the university’s decision to cancel international travel, but doesn’t necessarily agree with canceling domestic service trips.
“I really commend them for this, they’re just doing the right thing,” Dickerson said. “But as far as in-country travel, I understand erring on the side of caution, but I think it’s kind of lazy to give up all these experiences that some people might never have the chance to have again.”
Savannah White, a freshman in the College of General Studies, also said she trusts the university’s judgement on international travel, but thinks canceling domestic trips could cause backlash.
“If they think that it’s a good idea, then I agree,” White said. “I would think [students] should be allowed to go to different states. I’m flying home, and I don’t see a problem with that.”