Officials suspend all non-essential travel abroad, including spring break programs

Officials have suspended all non-essential GW-affiliated international travel for faculty, students and staff effective immediately amid concerns over COVID-19.

Provost Brian Blake and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Mark Diaz said in an email to the GW community Thursday that the suspension will remain in effect until July 1, and applies to group trips, spring break programs, individual travel and requests to approve future international travel. They said the study abroad office will not approve GW-affiliated student international travel through July 1, the end of GW’s current fiscal year.

“We understand that these travel restrictions and the uncertainty surrounding the spread of COVID-19 may be stressful and disruptive to the lives of many in our GW community, and we want to thank you for your understanding as we take the necessary steps to protect your health and safety,” they said in the email.

The email states that students currently studying abroad should be prepared for their program status to change “at any time.” The pair added that they expect GW’s response to COVID-19 to “evolve” over time and said they will keep the community informed and offer necessary support and resources.

Administrators canceled study abroad programs in China and Italy last month in light of concerns over the virus and launched a website Wednesday to track advisories and release information about COVID-19.

The email states that individuals planning personal travel during spring break should bear in mind that travel restrictions to the United States from affected countries may change with little notice. They said travelers may experience difficulties entering or departing foreign countries or returning to the United States coming back from spring break.

University President Thomas LeBlanc announced Monday that students returning to the United States from China, Iran, Italy and South Korea will be required to “self-isolate” off-campus for 14 days before returning to GW.

The interim dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences encouraged faculty in the school to prepare for the possibility of moving classes entirely online if the virus reaches campus, according to an email obtained by The Hatchet Wednesday.

Faculty and staff seeking an exemption to the travel suspension should contact the staff member in their office who approves travel or send a request to the Office of Risk Management for review, Blake and Diaz said. They added that faculty and staff with GW-affiliated travel arrangements in the near term should take the necessary steps to cancel them.

 

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