Spring Break And Coronavirus: North Texas Colleges Urge Students To Be Cautious
At the University of Texas at Dallas Thursday afternoon, students walked around the campus wearing shorts and sandals, soaking in the sunny, 70-degree temperatures — ideal spring break weather.
For those going out of town for the break, coronavirus didn't seem to be a concern.
As the coronavirus outbreak evolves, universities across North Texas are advising students to heed federal travel warnings as they look forward to spring break. While all universities have placed restrictions on school-sponsored trips, they said students are still in charge of their personal travel plans.
UT-Dallas student Emily Prophet said she still plans on visiting New York City, even though new cases have been reported there, too. She said she's more worried about her family than herself.
“As a young person, I probably would be safe even if I were to catch the virus, I'm in good health and I can trust my body,” she said. “But my family and people I care about, that would not be the case for them.”
Nihar Babu, also a UT-Dallas student, is planning to head home to the Houston area where officials have reported several positive test results for coronavirus, but he said it's no big deal.
“My parents are kind of worried about it for me, they're like getting masks and everything for me,” he said.
UT-Dallas President Richard Benson released a statement encouraging students who are headed into spring break to follow current recommendations from the State Department and CDC.
The school had already suspended all university-related travel to countries with an Alert Level 2 or higher designated by the CDC, which include China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan.
A 2019 study by TripAdvisor’s travel booking site, Viator.com, and Offers.com found that more than 53% of people ages 18-34 said they will travel for spring break.
Here is what some other North Texas universities are telling students:
Southern Methodist University
According to SMU’s website, the university does not control personal travel including international trips during spring break. However, the university recommends that students and faculty avoid personal trips abroad.
“Those who do travel abroad should realize that changing conditions may make it difficult for them to return home, which may cause an interruption in their studies or work,” the university’s website said.
The school also advises those returning from international countries with an alert level 3 or 4, designated by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), to self-monitor for coughing, difficulty breathing and fever by taking your temperature twice a day 14 days after traveling abroad.
A spokeswoman for the university said there is no intent to screen students upon their return to campus, but the university advises them to keep calm and wash their hands. She said that the coronavirus policy is evolving and subject to change.
University of North Texas
UNT is urging students to be mindful of the travel notices for foreign countries they are visiting for spring break.
“This not only means staying aware of your destination country’s travel notices, but also understanding that travel restrictions may change while you are away, which could impact your ability to return home,” the university website said.
The university has suspended all school-related international travel to and from China, Iran, South Korea, Italy and Japan where major outbreaks of the coronavirus have taken place. Approval from UNT’s International Risk Oversight Committee must be obtained before traveling to high-risk destinations, according to UNT’s website.
Dallas Baptist University
DBU is “strongly advising” students and staff to avoid travel to CDC Level 3 areas which include China, Iran, South Korea and Italy. The university’s website states that any student, faculty or staff member who travels to any of these areas must report their travel to DBU’s Student Affairs Office and self-quarantine for at least 14 days.
The university urged students to closely monitor travel advisories and be open to changing their travel plans depending on the conditions at their planned destination.
DBU has postponed all university-related travel to Europe and CDC-designated Level 3 risk countries.