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University Bans All Travel To China, South Korea & Cancels Course Trips To Italy, Japan Due To Coronavirus

Update, 11:20 a.m.: A university spokesperson confirmed that the university is working with faculty leaders to ensure that each student who was scheduled to go on a trip that is now canceled receives a full refund for course fees and flight costs. The spokesperson noted it “will not be an instantaneous process” because “each course had its own method for assessing and collecting class fees and booking flights.”

If the course used a group flight, the faculty leader will handle cancellations. If each student booked his/her own flight, it’s each of their responsibility to cancel the flight. All are asked to keep receipts and documentation regarding their flight costs and cancellation information. Further instruction about submitting that documentation to the university will be available in the coming days. 

Original story: Penn State has introduced a series of travel restrictions in response to the growing concerns of the coronavirus around the globe, Provost Nicholas Jones announced Friday morning.

All university-affiliated travel to China and South Korea is prohibited for students, while short-term, faculty-led programs in Italy and Japan, which may include trips over spring break, have been canceled due to “logistical disruptions and limited travel availability.” University-affiliated travel to China and South Korea for faculty and staff is “strongly discouraged” and would require Provost/University Risk Officer approval.

Penn State also canceled an embedded course in Vietnam due to flights that would take students through South Korea.

Students studying abroad for the semester in Italy and Japan can still stay there for the time being, per recommendations from global health agencies. The university is also assisting Penn State travelers with chronic diseases in CDC Level-2 Advisory countries with returning home if they wish to do so.

“While the CDC has indicated that for the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is low – Penn State will continue to vigilantly monitor the evolving situation and make decisions based on facts and with the health and safety of our community the primary focus,” Jones said in a release.

Penn State Global Safety officials base their decisions on many factors, including the latest recommendations, restrictions, and advisories from the State Department, the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the United HealthCare Global World Watch Intelligence Database, among other sources.

“We understand there is a lot of concern and conflicting information circulating about the coronavirus and international travel,” another university spokesman said in a statement. “As the safety of all students, faculty and staff traveling internationally is a priority, Penn State officials have been in direct contact with Penn State travelers to provide the latest information from the university and health agencies.”

You can stay up to date on Penn State’s response to the virus by visiting its website. Students concerned about Global Programs are encouraged to sign up for email notifications by sending an email here.

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About the Author

Anthony Colucci

Anthony Colucci was once Onward State’s managing editor and preferred walk-on honors student who majored in psychology and public relations. Despite being from the make-believe land of Central Jersey, he was never a Rutgers fan. If you ever want to know how good Saquon Barkley's ball security is, ask Anthony what happened when he tried to force a fumble at the Mifflin Streak. If you want to hear the story or are bored and want to share prequel memes, follow @_anthonycolucci on Twitter or email him at [email protected]. All other requests and complaints should be directed to Onward State media contact emeritus Steve Connelly.

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