S.C. colleges, universities monitoring coronavirus risks for students, faculty

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Several South Carolina colleges are making public their plans to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and protect their students and faculty.

Several colleges have either recalled students studying overseas or advised those students to return.

University of South Carolina

USC’s Student Health Services has taken steps to prepare for a potential case of COVID-19 and will continue to work with SC DHEC and the CDC to monitor our community, according to the university’s website.

Students, faculty or staff who travel to a country with a CDC travel Warning - Level 3 or an area experiencing widespread or sustained transmission of COVID-19, will be asked to self-quarantine at their permanent home residence for 14 days before they can return to campus.

Clemson University

Clemson University announced Monday that it is requiring all students studying abroad to return to the United States and suspending all overseas programs in the wake of the coronavirus threat.

The decision this affects 385 students studying in six different continents.

Earlier this week, the university called back around 100 students who were in already-affected countries, like Italy.

“It was not made lightly and we know it’s extremely disappointing for those students studying abroad," Clemson spokesman Joe Galbraith said. “It’s in the students best interest and in the best interest of university to bring the students back at this time.”

Clemson University officials said they are working closely to keep affected students on track academically and returning students will have to follow specific health protocols from the university’s health department.

College of Charleston

CofC officials say they are closely monitoring the outbreak for any potential impacts on students both in the Lowcountry and those studying abroad in parts of Europe and Asia.

The College of Charleston canceled a summer 2020 study abroad program that was scheduled to take place in China in May 2020. A planned study abroad program to Italy over spring break 2020 has also been cancelled.

The College has what it called "a small number" of students participating in two different study abroad programs in Seoul, South Korea. One of these programs has been canceled and the students have returned to the U.S. The other exchange partner university in Seoul has delayed the start of its semester and will begin the semester with online instruction only. However, the College has advised these students to return to the United States.

Two CofC students are currently studying in Japan, and the host university there will teach courses online only from through March 13 and has canceled all field trips during this period.

About two dozen CofC students are studying in various cities in Italy through affiliated study abroad organizations and one exchange partner university. While the College does not directly control these third-party affiliate programs, College officials have advised all students in Italy to return to the United States, and most have either returned or are in the process of returning to the U.S.

The College has suspended all College-sponsored travel for spring semester 2020 to any countries under Centers for Disease Control Warning Level 3 (or higher) travel notices.

“The College’s Emergency Management Team, which includes key staff and administrators from across campus, is convening regularly and is establishing contingency plans in the event that the outbreak requires any immediate actions on campus,” according to the CofC website. “Academic leadership is preparing a plan to ensure continuity of our teaching and learning mission, should any adjustments to our academic calendar become necessary. College health and emergency officials are also in regular communications with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.”

The Citadel

The Citadel Office of Study Abroad has cancelled a spring furlough session that would have taken a group to several destinations in northern Europe including Belgium, France and the Netherlands. Approximately 25 cadets, students and faculty were scheduled for the excursion. The decision was made out of an abundance of caution to protect the health of the traveling individuals and avoid potential travel disruptions that could result in an inability to return home if needed.

Additionally, a study abroad trip to Cuba for 19 cadets, graduate students and faculty is either being cancelled or postponed for later in the year.

The cadets and students are being contacted directly by the office and by their faculty advisers with details.

The Citadel is not yet issuing instructions regarding return protocols for cadets, students, and faculty.

The school’s president plans to meet next week with the entire Corps and those instructions will be delivered at that time based on developments over the next few days. That same protocol will be shared with our Citadel Graduate College students, faculty and staff that day.

The Citadel’s infirmary team continues to monitor updates from SCDHEC and CDC. School officials say that if at some point a cadet needed to be quarantined, that is where they would be cared for.

South Carolina State University

Students, faculty and staff members who are traveling to or returning from high risk areas may be subject to quarantine from the SC State University campus pending an assessment by Orangeburg County or South Carolina public health officials before they are allowed to return to campus.

Spring Break travel

Multiple colleges have released advisories to students who plan to travel for Spring Break:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Practice “social distancing,” standing at least 6 feet away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid spitting in public.
  • Avoid unnecessary contact with people and highly-touched surfaces.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid close contact and travel with animals.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

As of Thursday, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in South Carolina, but cases have been reported in Georgia, North Carolina and Florida.

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