YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The coronavirus has affected all types of travel, even study abroad programs at universities across the country.
According to the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, China and South Korea are under an alert level 3, meaning people should avoid all non-essential travel to these areas. Iran, Italy and Japan are at level 2, which means some people should consider postponing non-essential travel.
Because Youngstown State University has a study abroad program, it is already taking important steps to protect its students. One trip to China for the current semester has already been canceled and four other trips to China and South Korea for the summer semester have been put on hold.
“We’ve been in regular communication with the Mahoning County Board of Public Health. We are having regular contact with them and, of course, they are connected to state and federal authorities and are getting regular updates there,” said Nathan Myers, associate provost for YSU’s International and Global Initiatives.
Other university programs are also canceling trips, especially to Italy, which has the highest number of confirmed cases of the virus outside of China.
Villanova University is sending 32 students home from Italy. Kent State University students are still in Florence but are being advised to not leave the city. Syracuse University is sending home 342 students from Florence.
As for YSU, there have not been any changes made to any of the other study abroad programs scheduled, but changes could be made based on how the virus progresses.
“Youngstown State University has been very proactive. Every morning, the first thing we do that our staff does when we arrive here at work in International Programs is we check the CDC websites and the state department websites,” Myers said.
Thursday night, Myers and the International and Global Initiatives Office will meet with students who already have travel plans to discuss what could happen going forward. The Mahoning County Board of Public Health will also be there to weigh in on the current situation.
“The university has been proceeding in a way with the students’ best interest at heart. Obviously, we want to make sure our community here is safe and healthy and we also want to make sure our students are safe and healthy and can continue to pursue their academic programs in a way that is going to result in good outcomes for them,” Myers said.