FLEAPs fall victim to coronavirus
by Julian Gregorio
The coronavirus has claimed its latest victim: Robert Morris's faculty-led study abroad program.
All spring FLEAPs (Faculty-Led Education Abroad Programs) are cancelled "out of an abundance of caution" for the worldwide public health emergency, according to an email the Office of Student Life sent Thursday.
The cancellation comes just one day before some students were set to leave for several destinations, including France and Belize.
"We are sorry for the disappointment and inconvenience this decision has caused," the email said.
"Although no suspected cases have been reported at Robert Morris University or in the Pittsburgh region to date, the university has been monitoring the spread of the illness worldwide for several weeks and is taking steps to safeguard the health and safety of the campus community," the email said. It was signed by Provost Mary Ann Rafoth and vice president of student life John Michalenko.
Despite the short notice, some students are actually relieved the trips were cut. Brittany Claybaugh was set to visit Paris, France, but said she was "feeling good" since she heard it got canned.
"(Paris) is still going to be there," Ms. Claybaugh said. She dropped out Wednesday before the trip was even cancelled, because she was concerned there could be unexpected travel restrictions.
"I thought that I would be quarantined and then not be able to finish my semester or get a job," she said.
"My life is more important than a trip, and this is such a first-world problem," she added.
Students will get their money back and will get the chance to make up the global SET credit they would have received abroad.
The cancellation includes trips scheduled for May, which are typically longer compared to the March trips that last just one week. The university had already cancelled the Japan FLEAP last week.
This particular strain of coronavirus is also known as COVID-19 and appears to have originated in Wuhan, China.