In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette has canceled all state-sponsored international travel programs.
“Effective immediately and until further notice, all state-supported international travel is prohibited.” the website reads, “In-state travel is strongly discouraged and will be denied unless it is essential and there are no other means of conducting business.”
“UL Lafayette is prohibiting University-supported travel for staff, faculty, and students to countries the CDC has listed as level 2 or 3 in response to COVID-19,” reads the website. Countries with canceled programs now include China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Costa Rica, England and South Korea.
The study abroad program will be the most affected by this. According to UL Lafayette’s FAQ page regarding the outbreak, the study abroad program for summer 2020 in Italy has been canceled.
“UL Lafayette has canceled its Study Abroad program in Italy for the Summer 2020 semester,” states the notice. “Students who were scheduled to travel to Italy as part of Study Abroad will receive full refunds.”
The CDC has updated its website as of March 11 to include most of Europe in its Level 3 category, Level 3 being the highest level of risk. This list includes France and Italy.
“CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the specified countries listed above,” the update says regarding the list. “There may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas. Widespread, sustained spread of a respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported in countries in this region.”
However, the CDC also recommends social distancing and avoiding travel wherever possible to limit the spread of the virus.
“Monitor your health and practice social distancing,” according to the website. “Social distancing means staying out of crowded places, avoiding group gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”
On March 11, Eric Maron spoke on the restrictions and what the consequences of the travel restrictions at UL Lafayette will be.
“It’s obviously going to impact (the student’s) ability to learn and share information," Maron said. “A big part of education is the exchange of ideas.”
However, Maron continued by explaining that, although the restrictions and those consequences are impactful, things will eventually improve.
“They’re going to be affected by their inability to do that, but as this becomes more under control, and, looking down the road, the travel restrictions will be relaxed, and they’ll resume those academic exchanges.”
As of now, there are no restrictions by the university to impede students from returning from international countries, but the university website does warn that federal regulations might restrict travel back to the United States.
“There are no restrictions on international students currently enrolled at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette traveling back to their home countries,” reads the page. “However, federal restrictions may be instituted that deny or delay re-entry into the United States. International students should research travel restrictions before planning to travel.”