Tag: Students

Study abroad programs are letting U.S. students travel again. But it’s not without challenges.

Last fall, Elon University in North Carolina had 550 students studying abroad. This fall, they have just 13. They are expecting that number to increase substantially as study abroad advisers are seeing an uptick of (virtual) appointment requests.

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“We’ve actually opened our cycle of applications for fall 2021 and we have loads and loads of applications already,” says Rhonda Waller, the university’s executive director of global engagement.

Americans are not allowed to enter many international borders, including the European Union, but there are exceptions for people traveling for work, emergencies and school. While the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak was chaotic for U.S. students abroad, as exchange programs were canceled and borders closed, students are taking the opportunity to study abroad again now that they have been given the green light.

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“For a lot of families, it was a risk calculation,” Waller says. “You do have to get on an airplane and that’s definitely part of the calculus as part of their thinking. But once you get off that airplane, some of these locations are probably looking actually pretty favorable compared to the relative conditions and the positivity rates here in the United States.”

Before the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of U.S. students were studying abroad each year. In the 2017-2018 school year, more than 341,750 students studied abroad for academic credit, with the U.K., Italy, Spain, France and Germany as the most popular destinations, according to the most recent stats available from the Institute of International Education.

Waller says she advises students to be optimistic as well as cautious and flexible while they plan study abroad experiences since complications can arise. Students can even register for classes at Elon’s North Carolina campus in case their study abroad plans fall through at the last minute.

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Once students arrive overseas, they are in the hands of the local study abroad partners who are in charge of making adjustments for the coronavirus, from health screenings and quarantining upon arrival to adjustments to classroom settings. However, a travel abroad student’s experience will depend on where they are studying. Even if students choose destinations where coronavirus cases are currently low, it is impossible to know what the situation will be once they actually arrive.

At the American University of Paris, neurology student Morgan Phillips, 21, says class sizes are small and desks are socially distanced. However, students are given the option of choosing online learning if they are not comfortable coming to class in person. “Obviously everybody wears masks, but everything else seems pretty normal,” says Phillips, who moved from New York City.

In Florence, American graduate student Stef Ferrari, 36, has her temperature checked before entering any building of the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, where class sizes are small, masks are mandatory and hand sanitizer is readily available. While she’s overjoyed

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N.J. district delays school reopening date to Feb. 1 for most students citing holiday travel, staffing concerns

Find all of the most important pandemic education news on Educating N.J., a special resource guide created for parents, students and educators.

A Morris County school district announced high school and middle school students will remain all remote and not return to in-person classes until Feb. 1 – among the latest reopening date announced so far by a New Jersey district due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boonton High School students and those in grades 6 through 8 at John Hill School will return to classes Feb. 1, while students in kindergarten through fifth grade will start two weeks earlier on Jan. 19, said Boonton Public Schools Superintendent Robert Presuto.

Boonton is the latest district in New Jersey to delay a return to the classroom until 2021 as the state grapples with a recent increase in coronavirus cases. Newark, the state’s largest district, announced Monday that students will return Jan. 25, six days after the resumption of in-person classes in Paterson.

Presuto cited several reasons for the school board’s decision Monday night, at his recommendation, extending all-remote learning beyond the first marking period, which ends Nov. 6.

In an email Wednesday night, Presuto said a “sizable portion” of the district’s teachers had declined to return, due to being at a higher risk for COVID-19, and there are not enough substitute teachers available.

Presuto also cited the decision by other districts to remain all-remote learning amid rising coronavirus cases and the expectation that families and staffers may travel during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays, likely necessitating two-week quarantines that would disrupt a return to school.

He added that some school districts where in-person classes have resumed have already decided to switch to all-remote learning around the holidays, and that his district wanted to avoid potentially having to start, and then stop.

“All of these factors together were considered in the recommendation and decision. Many schools, particularly N.J. high schools, have reverted to virtual instruction multiple times in Morris County alone since September,” Presuto said.

Approximately 1,400 students are enrolled in the district’s schools.

When in-person instruction resumes, Boonton Public Schools will use a hybrid schedule.

Presuto said students will be divided into two groups, or cohorts. Students will attend classes on two days, for four hours per day, and use remote learning the rest of the week.

He said the goal is to limit attendance at the three schools to 50% or less of capacity in order to accommodate social distancing.

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Rob Jennings may be reached at rjennings@njadvancemedia.com.


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University of Arizona students asked to minimize holiday travel to stem COVID spread

The school will also be doing a “testing blitz” prior to Thanksgiving.

The University of Arizona has reported at least 2,433 COVID-19 infections among students and staff as of Oct. 20, according to university tracking data.

U of A said it is testing on-campus students every week in order to identify and quarantine asymptomatic cases. While the high number of infections is concerning, the university’s positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is currently 0.07%, well below the 5% threshold recommended by the World Health Organization.

The school also is planning a testing blitz beginning Nov. 9 in order to reduce the risk that students will spread COVID-19 into other communities if they travel during the holidays, President Robert Robbins explained on Monday during a remote briefing he holds weekly for students.

Students also will be asked to fill out a survey detailing their travel plans during Thanksgiving break and are encouraged to finish the semester remotely if they leave the Tucson area for Thanksgiving.

“Our primary goal is to minimize the impact of student travel on community spread of COVID-19,” Robbins said.

PHOTO: A student wears a protective mask while walking through the campus at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., Aug. 24, 2020.

A student wears a protective mask while walking through the campus at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., Aug. 24, 2020.

There have been more than 233,000 infections and 5,800 deaths in Arizona due to COVID-19, according to the state health department.

According to data from The COVID Tracking Project, new cases, testing positivity rate and COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Arizona. Experts consider deaths from COVID-19 to be a lagging indictor of the outbreak’s severity, meaning they trail behind indicators like daily infections and hospitalizations.

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    Coronavirus: 44 UT-Austin Students Test Positive After Vacation

    AUSTIN, TX — The number of University of Texas at Austin students coming down with coronavirus after a spring break trip to coastal Mexico rose to 44 — 16 more than originally reported by health officials — according to a school spokesman.

    Austin Public Health officials on Tuesday confirmed 28 students had tested positive for the virus causing that causes the respiratory illness after returning to Austin from a vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. By Wednesday, UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird confirmed the number of diagnosed cases among the group of some 70 UT-Austin students who had chartered a plane to Mexico had grown to 44. Bird confirmed the level after an inquiry from Patch, adding all those affected are UT-Austin students.

    The students’ trip defied health officials’ advice centered on limiting outings solely to necessary trips — grocery store shopping, medicine retrieval at pharmacies or visits to the bank for needed financial transactions for example — in adhering to social distancing guidelines. Lacking a vaccine for the disease, health officials have pointed to physical distancing — maintaining a buffer of at least six feet between people — as the most effective way of mitigating potential illness spread.

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    The illness is transmitted via respiratory droplets emitted by infected people through coughing or sneezing, health officials have said.

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    In a related front, Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott reported a patient in his or her 20s under critical condition after being infected with COVID-19. It’s unclear if the young patient was among students returning from Mexico. Escott’s latest health update revealing the news underscored the importance of social distancing as a way to mitigate illness spread, his message referencing youthful residents who may think themselves impervious to disease.

    “The health of the public is in the hands of the community,” Escott said in a prepared statement. “It is important to understand that young people are not immune from serious illness. We implore the community to stay at home even if you are not feeling ill, and before leaving your house ask yourself ‘Is this trip necessary?’ It is the entire community’s responsibility to stop the spread, including our young adults and teens.”

    The day after the mass illness was reported by media outlets, UT-Austin officials produced an educational video posted on Twitter meant to educate students about the illness scourge. “We’re concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic and a spike in the number of positives in our student body,” the post accompanying the video reads. “Longhorns, take this matter seriously, do your part, social distance and follow all public health guidelines.”

    The video features UT-Austin spokesman J.B. Bird asking questions related to health safeguards of Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, the university’s vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and Dr. Terrance Hines, executive director and chief medical

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