Troy cancels study abroad trips due to coronavirus

Published 9:10 pm Monday, March 2, 2020

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Troy University junior Sierra Champion has never been out of the country, so she had an extra excitement about leaving for Greece with the leadership department on Friday, March 6.

But those dreams will not be realized – at least not in the coming weeks. Troy officials announced Monday that all study abroad trips have been canceled due to the threat of COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We understand the effect this action may have on students, and this decision was not made lightly,” said Dr. Lance Tatum, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. “The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is the University’s highest priority.”

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Champion has been planning her trip to Greece since October 2019, but begun having concerns about a cancellation due to Coronavirus once cases began being confirmed in Italy in the past two weeks.

“The centers of Italy and Greece are just about an hour and a half away from each other, so I knew there could be an impact,” Champion said.

From then. Champion said it was just a waiting game to see what the university decided to do. Champion said the students going on the trip were notified Friday that the trip would be suspended, and on Monday received notification that the trip had been canceled.

The students had invested between $3,600 to $4,000 in the trip, Champion said, and are currently not being offered any refunds.

“I had been very excited and had been getting all my things together, I even got a facemask to wear to the airport,” Champion said. “I would have been terrified to go over there, but I probably still would have gone. But the University put all of our best interests in mind.”

A statement released by Troy University officials explains that the school is working with third-party travel providers to “mitigate impact to students.”

“Based on the uncertainty of the virus and its spread, the university strongly discourages students from traveling abroad independently to countries with widespread or sustained community transmission of COVID-19,” the statement reads. “The Alabama Department of Public Health has issued guidance to higher education institutions that people returning from any regions with active community transmission of COVID-19 must self-monitor for symptoms for a 14-day quarantine period at home before returning to campus. A 14-day quarantine could mean missing significant class time. For students, this lost class time could affect the ability to finish the spring semester classes on time and depending on an individual student’s status, could impact graduation in May.”

Troy University faculty, staff and administrators have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 outbreak since January and previously suspended all university travel to China.

While several cases of  COVID-19 have been reported in the U.S., no cases have yet been reported at Troy University or in the state of Alabama.