By Kate Selig
The Bing Overseas Study Program (BOSP) will decide whether or not to suspend spring quarter study abroad programs no later than March 20, BOSP announced on Wednesday amid the growing coronavirus outbreak. The decision follows the program’s Tuesday suspension of the Florence, Italy, study abroad program.
In an email to Oxford spring quarter students, BOSP Associate Director for Student and Academic Services Adrian Doyle wrote that “depending upon what emerges in the coming weeks,” the decision to cancel the programs could come sooner.
“We recognize that the ambiguity around this situation can be disconcerting or frustrating,” Doyle wrote. “Please know we are working diligently to gather as much information as possible that we can share with you as it becomes available.”
Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda wrote in a statement to The Daily that he had no more information on the situation beyond what was published on the BOSP website. Miranda could not confirm if Doyle’s email had been sent to all students in spring programs.
A total of 82,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in at least 48 countries, including several where BOSP has study abroad programs. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinto Abe on Thursday asked all schools to close for a month. Stanford has a spring study abroad program in Kyoto, Japan.
The University ended classes at the Florence program on Wednesday, and students have been asked to leave the country no later than Sunday. The Florence program was originally set to end on March 13. Coronavirus cases in Italy have nearly doubled since the time of the announcement, now numbering more than 650. The cases are primarily concentrated in the Lombardy region, which is now under a lockdown, according to NPR.
No coronavirus cases have been identified at any of the University’s overseas studies programs or at the main campus, according to the BOSP announcement.
Doyle wrote that Stanford continues to monitor the situation.
“Our decision-making is guided by public health experts at and beyond Stanford as well as restrictions or recommendations put forth by intelligence sources,” Doyle wrote. “Stanford continues to assess risk based on the number of cases, community spread, public health infrastructure, as well as other factors.”
BOSP would waive the withdrawal fee for students wishing to withdraw from the spring quarter program, Doyle wrote, adding that students who decide to withdraw from the program and rescind their termination of on-campus housing should do so “as soon as possible to ensure housing availability.”
Miranda wrote that he had no further information on whether students would still be guaranteed on-campus housing or given financial assistance to cover flight cancellations and other costs if their spring quarter was canceled.
The international relations program, which typically requires majors to complete at least one quarter abroad before graduating, emailed students on Friday morning that “no IR major will be denied graduation if program cancellations or risks associated with coronavirus prevent them from completing their overseas studies requirement.”
“We take great pride in the fact that all IR majors spend at least one quarter studying abroad, and we know that you look forward to your time overseas,” wrote program director Kenneth Schultz. “But your safety and well-being are our highest priority.”
This article has been updated to include information about the international relations program.
Contact Kate Selig at kselig ‘at’ stanford.edu.