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Hampton Roads colleges suspend study abroad programs amid coronavirus outbreak

Colleges and universities across Hampton Roads are on high alert, with some making changes to their study abroad programs.

NORFOLK, Va. — The rapidly-spreading coronavirus is forcing some colleges and universities here in Hampton Roads to make changes to their study abroad programs.

Staff at the College of William and Mary posted on their website: “…all university-sponsored undergraduate student travel is currently prohibited to China, Italy and South Korea…”

The college also said, "All university-sponsored faculty, staff and graduate student travel to those countries must be reviewed and approved by the university’s International Travel Review Committee."

Old Dominion University said in a statement: "Last month ODU suspended all University-sponsored travel to China and last week canceled faculty-led study abroad programs in Italy and Thailand."

They are two of several schools in the area that are forming set policies to prevent any cases from popping up on their campuses.

Tidewater Community College, Old Dominion University, William and Mary, and Norfolk State University have created web pages on the coronavirus that staff sent out across their respective campuses.

Tidewater Community College Public Information Officer Marian Anderfuren said college leadership met with the Virginia Department of Health Monday morning.

“To make sure we’re passing along factual information as well as links to trusted sources. There’s always a lot of misinformation in a crisis like this and we want to make sure everybody is getting correct information,” Anderfuren said.

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Anderfuren said TCC doesn’t have any students studying abroad right now, but staff will keep the coronavirus outbreak in mind for future plans.

“If a faculty or staff member is planning a study abroad program next semester or next year, I’m sure they’ll look at the location in the light of what’s going on with COVID-19 at that time,” she said.

Amid concerns over spring break travel and the coronavirus, Anderfuren said she isn’t expecting a lot of students to travel abroad for spring break but they are advising students to follow CDC guidelines and be cautious.

“Whether they’re in their community or in Italy or Korea or somewhere else, they need to take the same precautions everywhere,” she said.

The TCC coronavirus web page can be found here. William and Mary's web page can be found here. ODU's can be found here. NSU's can be found here.

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