Coronavirus: Eastern Florida State College cancels study abroad program

Eric Rogers
Florida Today
Walton Sun

Eastern Florida State College has canceled its study abroad program to China in the wake of coronavirus concerns and is looking closely at other programs to countries heavily impacted by the virus, a college spokesman said.

Under guidance from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state surgeon general, EFSC and other schools under the Florida College System on Tuesday enacted restrictions on travel to countries hardest hit by COVID-19, including China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.

Among other school-sponsored travel, colleges were asked to cancel international programs and urge students and staff returning from affected regions to self-isolate for at least 14 days before returning to campus, according to an EFSC news release.

Students who may be impacted can contact their instructors to make alternate arrangements for classwork and employees are asked to contact their supervisors and the college's human resource department, said EFSC spokesman John Glisch.

Glisch said the school had no reports of anyone affiliated with the college recently returning from restricted countries.

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Plans for a study abroad trip to China were cancelled in early February after news of the outbreak, Glisch said, which began in the city of Wuhan in China's eastern central region. Dates for the trip had not yet been announced.

The college is also looking "very closely" at planned trips to Japan in December and Europe in late May, he said. The European itinerary includes three days in Italy, according to the school's website, which so far has seen over 2,000 confirmed cases and at least 52 deaths associated with the disease.

"We'll not hesitate to cancel those programs as well if it becomes necessary," Glisch said.

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The school is developing its pandemic plan in coordination with state and county health officials, which include plans to move "as much additional coursework online as we could" if campus closures become necessary, Glisch said.

"We're taking a very close look at everything that could be related to a more widespread coronavirus outbreak in Florida," he said, "what the impact might be on our students and employees and what we might do to mitigate those impacts."

Contact Rogers at 321-242-3717 or Follow him on Twitter @EricRogersFT.