The coronavirus epidemic has, without a doubt, caused controversy around the world. The virus is very contagious, leading some countries elevated to the Level 3 status such as Italy to go on strict lockdown. Because of this, many colleges have decided to completely shut down their campuses for a few weeks in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Here at Keene State, the college has decided to bring back its few students in Italy and not allow them to come on campus for 14 days. After these 14 days are up, they still cannot come back onto campus to take classes, and can only come in to visit friends. The college covered the cost of transportation, and will do the same for any student that is in a Level 2 country such as Japan, where one student is currently studying.
While The Equinox agrees that it’s unfortunate that the students had to return, we feel this is the best way the college could have handled the situation. There was no way of knowing that something like coronavirus would happen and affect this semester for the students abroad.
Unfortunately, these things do happen and if somebody had gotten infected many people would come for the school asking, “Why didn’t you bring these students back?” We also must remember that this may not be a huge risk for students, but many professors with weaker immune systems could be affected by this.
Another aspect of this situation not being talked about is the effect on students that may live in far away places. In the situation of students potentially having to stay home for extra time after spring break, they may have to alter flights that have been booked long in advance as well as possibly have to bring all their things home on very short notice. If this scenario were to come true, then we hope Keene State does all they can to ease this process for these students.
We thought it was great that Keene State coveraged the travel costs of these students returning, but we also feel that it doesn’t go far enough. Students will be taking online classes at home to fulfill their requirements for the rest of the semester. These classes are being offered by the schools in Italy. We believe these students should also be offered some kind of compensation from the schools abroad, if possible.
While we understand that essentially the whole country had to be shut down, we think the students should receive some kind of refund of housing payments if they paid to live there for the whole semester upfront.
Although it must have been difficult for these students to have to cut their study abroad time short, in times of crisis we should not be taking risks. They can go back to Italy in a few years, but life is more important than experience, especially when they wouldn’t be able to do much in Italy right now anyway.
Despite this, it should definitely be noted that coronavirus is not a death sentence and has a very small mortality rate. Although you should definitely be cautious, you shouldn’t let this fear overwhelm you, due to the countless doctors working very hard to make a disease that is already not necessarily deadly, even less threatening.