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San Antonio Colleges Limit, Cancel Travel To Protect Campuses From Coronavirus

File Photo | Shelley D. Kofler | Texas Public Radio

Updated March 9. Originally published March 4.

St. Mary’s University canceled Spring Break trips to Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico and Panama on Friday due to uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not issued travel warnings for those countries, but university officials said in an online update the cancellations were intended to “avoid the likely challenges associated with crossing international borders and being quarantined.”

As Spring Break approached in San Antonio, several area colleges and universities notified students and staff that they would be barred from campus for two weeks if they traveled to countries where there is a risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

St Mary’s required isolation after traveling to countries on CDC’s Level 2 and Level 3 travel notice lists, which currently include Japan, China, South Korea, Italy and Iran.

The Texas A&M University System, which includes Texas A&M-San Antonio, also required self-quarantine after travel to Level 2 and Level 3 countries.

Trinity University had also notified students and staff they would be “subject to a mandatory 14-day off-campus quarantine period” if they traveled to countries on the CDC’s highest Level 3 warning list.

“While there is no reason to panic, it’s important that we all take precautions should there be any future developments. This virus continues to spread, affecting more countries around the globe,” Trinity officials said in an email sent out to the campus community.

Trinity also sent notices to students who were studying abroad in those countries. It also required them to complete a 14-day self-quarantine.

A notice from the University of Texas at San Antonio “strongly discouraged” travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries and told students, faculty and staff they were required to notify the university if they travel to those areas.

UTSA shut down its study abroad programs in Italy Feb. 28, and is requiring the 71 students sent home to stay off campus in self-quarantine for two weeks.

Our Lady of the Lake University spokesman Ken Rodriguez said the university postponed a university-sponsored trip to Japan scheduled for Spring Break, but had no travel restrictions for students or faculty.

Meanwhile, the Alamo Colleges District limited business travel for employees and suspended large events until further notice.

Universities are also making preparations to move classes online in case the risk of coronavirus increases. UTSA offered four webinars during Spring Break to teach faculty how to record lessons, post assignments, and administer exams online.

None of the colleges and universities have reported any students or faculty with symptoms of the coronavirus.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille.

Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@TPR.org and on Twitter at @cmpcamille. TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.