Coronavirus forces SU to cancel Madrid abroad program

SU Abroad Madrid cancelled

Questions continue to rise whether admin will close main campus
Published: March 9, 2020
Bird's eye view of campus
Syracuse campus is expected to remain open after spring break.

Monday evening Syracuse University officials announced that they would be suspending the SU Abroad program in Madrid due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This is the third SU Abroad program to be cancelled this year due to the outbreak, after SU canceled its study abroad program in Florence on Feb. 25 and the abroad program in China was cancelled during winter break. Students from the Italy and Spain programs can finish the semester online, or return to Main Campus after spring break.

All programs located in London, Strasbourg, France and Santiago, Chile will continue operating, but students are prohibited from traveling to countries with a Level 2 travel advisory risk or higher from the CDC. Students who violate the restrictions could face conduct sanctions.

Syracuse University is not expecting to close its main campus before or after spring break due to coronavirus, though it has contingency plans in case the outbreak poses a threat to the community.

The uncertainty of coronavirus’ impact on SU has prompted officials to consolidate all of their information and recommendations that have been sent out to the campus community into an official coronavirus website over the weekend where students can track policies regarding the virus.

In an email to the campus community on Monday, Mike Haynie, SU’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation, announced the launch of the website, as well as, a coronavirus hotline — (315) 443.8472 — that will answer questions members of the community have regarding the virus and preparations.

The email also confirmed that all university-sponsored travel has been canceled or postponed including student spring break trips, as well as, professional faculty travel. Student trips have been canceled completely, however, faculty members affected by this are permitted to appeal to Interim Vice Chancellor and Provost John Liu directly.

Professors around campus are being trained in programs to allow them to continue classes online if needed,  Newhouse School interim dean Amy Falkner informed Newhouse students in an email Friday. She reiterated the university has no plans to close the campus.

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease experts believe originated in Wuhan, China. As of Saturday morning, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Onondaga County, which includes SU. As of Monday afternoon, there are 463 confirmed cases and 19 deaths in the Uniteeed States from the virus, according to the Center for Disease Control. This includes 40 cases in New York state.

SU administrators, including Chancellor Kent Syverud, have sent at least 10 emails updating university policies and reactions to coronavirus since January. In a Friday morning email, Syverud said Vice Chancellor Mike Haynie will assume leadership in relation to coronavirus preparedness.

Additionally, all university-sponsored spring break travel is canceled, Syverud said in the email.

Syverud also announced that all university-sponsored travel to a country the CDC deems a Level 2 or higher risk is prohibited. These countries include China, Japan, Iran, Italy and South Korea. He also said the university “encourages” faculty and staff to postpone or cancel non-essential international travel. The chancellor added that the university is discouraging students from any non-essential airline travel over spring break in the event of travel restrictions while they are away.

The chancellor has met with officials from the SUNY system and health experts in the state to strategize SU’s response to COVID-19.

Other universities around the country, including peer institutions such as New York University, Boston University and Cornell University, are practicing similar measures such as shutting down Florence study-abroad programs and encouraging students to refrain from airline travel.

SU continues to send health recommendations such as washing hands and avoiding touching the face through campus-wide emails.

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is a digital producer to The NewsHouse.