Spring break at stake

Global spread of COVID-19, or coronavirus, has professors taking extra precautions for study abroad programs over spring break.

Max Kingsbeck, Reporter

The spread of COVID-19 is a developing story. This coverage was last updated on March 8, 2020.

Professor Kristina Deffenbacher has been closely monitoring whether the spread of coronavirus will warrant the cancellation of her spring break trip to Ireland. As of Feb. 7, there have been 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

“The fact that none of the cases originated in Ireland, and the fact that they were contained means there’s not a concern about spread,” Deffenbacher said. “Relative to America and every other European country, it’s as safe as anywhere now.”

Deffenbacher and the Global Engagement Center (GEC) are monitoring the warning levels issued by the State Department, which may recommend relative caution when traveling to certain countries or simply restrict nonessential travel to high-risk areas.

“As long as it’s at level one or level two where you’re doing normal precautions as you travel, then we will still go,” Deffenbacher said. 

She also noted that further precautions will be taken during the trip, including the use of a coach bus instead of public transportation, which is one of the most likely ways for the disease to spread.

Professor Suda Ishida, who is hosting a spring break trip in Egypt, also said she plans to follow through with the trip despite fears about coronavirus.

“There was only one person in Egypt who got sick… so we have not decided to cancel the trip,” Ishida said. “The only issue might be on the airplane and at the airport, and you never know at the airports.”

She emphasized that activities planned for the trip would pose very little danger to the students while they are there. 

“Most of the time students will be going to school there… we will have our own bus and will not take public transportation at all,” Ishida said. “Students will be told to be careful, wash their hands and use hand sanitizer.”

However, Deffenbacher and Ishida both insisted that the viability of these trips will continue to be assessed as the situation evolves in the coming weeks.

Because of the rapidly changing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, the Oracle will continue to report on significant developments. More updates about Hamline’s response to coronavirus can be found at hamline.edu/COVID-19.