King’s University College said concerns over the novel coronavirus have prompted the school to cancel all school-sanctioned travel outside Canada.
The international excursions would have sent students to a handful of countries, including Belgium, France, Sweden, England, the United States and Italy, the latter of which is under lockdown as of Tuesday morning due to an outbreak of COVID-19 cases.
The trips abroad were originally planned for a number of reasons, including experiential learning, exchange programs, summer programs and research presentations in other countries.
King’s principal David Malloy told Global News the decision was made at a time that would least impact students.
“If we waited too long… we were fearful that some of these students would not be able to graduate,” Malloy said.
“Our primary concern, of course, is their health and the health of the faculty that will be travelling with them, but the secondary concern was to ensure that they wouldn’t be missing academic credits for these trips that we have to cancel.”
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Malloy said the university will assist students with financial losses they may have incurred due to the cancellations.
“Each of these students had already received a travel bursary, so we suspect they won’t be out of pocket… but we’re handling each case on a person-by-person basis just to make sure that they’re not out of pocket,” Malloy added.
While still a work in progress, Malloy said the university is working on alternatives for those with cancelled trips. One idea included a trip to Ottawa that would allow students to view history archives, but Malloy stressed that alternatives have not yet been solidified.
As for the campus, Malloy said the university has placed signs to help make students aware of health precautions such as washing hands and not touching one’s face.
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He said any students who do not feel well should contact the school and stay home.
“Depending on how this evolves over the exam period, this could be a bit of a challenge for everybody,” Malloy said.
“We will try to be as absolutely flexible as possible and as reasonable as possible.”