Spring Quarter study abroad programs canceled, graduate students abroad told to “reassess” travel


E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Baggage handlers on the United Airlines jet ramp at O’Hare International Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020.

Isabelle Sarraf, Assistant Campus Editor

COVID-19 News

All undergraduate study abroad programs for Spring Quarter have been canceled due to the global spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, Northwestern’s Global Learning Office announced Thursday night.

Students enrolled in a Spring Quarter study abroad program will be dropped from their study abroad courses by Monday, and will then be able to enroll in regular courses on campus, according to an email sent to the students.

Undergraduate students were informed that they would not be charged any study abroad program fees for Spring Quarter. The Global Learning Office said they would refund flight costs in cases of a budget airline, where a refund or credit is not issued for the cancellation of an international flight.

The U.S. State Department issued a Global Level Three Health Advisory, suggesting U.S. citizens reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic Wednesday.

Northwestern’s policy prohibits undergraduate international travel to countries with a Level Three or Four advisory from the State Department or a Level Three travel advisory warning from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Graduate students abroad are also now required to disclose their location and Northwestern-sponsored international travel immediately through an independent traveler disclosure form, the University also announced in a Thursday statement. Given the State Department’s Level Three Global Health Advisory, U.S. citizens are advised to reconsider travel given the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and take action that can limit travel, such as quarantines and border restrictions.

The University is advising all graduate students currently abroad to “reassess their travel” because of the changing conditions surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the release.

University President Morton Schapiro announced Wednesday that Spring Break would be extended by a week, and Spring Quarter classes will be conducted remotely for at least three weeks.

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