SIT response to the coronavirus

Announcement Date: January 31, 2020

On January 27, 2020, SIT made the difficult decision to suspend the spring 2020 China: Health, Environment, and Traditional Chinese Medicine program due to the deepening concern in China and abroad about the coronavirus. That decision was borne out by the U.S. State Department Level 3 Travel Advisory issued later that day, which, according to our policy, would preclude us from operating a program in China at this time. That advisory has since been upgraded to Level 4: Do Not Travel.

Click here to read the full SIT Policy on Programs and Travel in Elevated Risk Locations

On January 28, we informed students on our spring 2020 program Malaysia and China: International Relations and New Economies that the excursion to China would be changed to Singapore and Borneo. SIT is closely monitoring risk on all other programs, including those in Thailand, Mongolia, and Vietnam. With programs on seven continents, we are acutely aware of health and safety concerns, as well as logistical challenges related to this rapidly changing situation.

SIT Study Abroad very carefully balances student and staff safety with experiential learning. Our top priority is the health and well-being of our students. We have robust emergency preparedness supplies, action plans and protocols in place, as well as detailed contingency plans that enable us to respond quickly to changing circumstances.

We continue to monitor the situation around the clock to ensure that we are balancing the need for caution with the understanding that we have much more to learn about the virus and its prevalence. As of today, we have provided students on all relevant programs with the following information and recommendations:

The complete clinical picture with regard to the novel coronavirus is still not fully clear. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 after exposure. The latest report from China indicated that the virus can be transmitted even before patients are symptomatic. Reported illnesses have ranged in severity from little to no symptoms to severe respiratory illness and death. Symptoms can include fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The coronavirus may impact travel as you arrive to your program or move through your program itinerary given transport limitations within China and border screening elsewhere in the region and globe.

This outbreak is a respiratory virus and seems to be transmitted similar to other respiratory viruses. Therefore, taking basic, everyday precautions can help protect you, your peers, and SIT faculty and staff. The recommendations below are a reminder that choices around basic precautions are impactful in regard to personal and public health.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • If traveling by plane or public transit, sanitize seat, armrest and trays with disinfecting wipes.
  • Consider traveling with a disposable face mask covering your mouth and nose.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Ensure food is thoroughly cooked.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Note that some locations have implemented screening, and travelers may face quarantine and testing.

SIT has advised students to be prepared to discuss this issue in detail during orientation, which will also include information about local health considerations, resources and additional precautions.