Suspension of University-Sponsored International Travel, Including D-Term Project Centers

DEPARTMENT(S): 
March 4, 2020

Dear WPI Community,

The university has been following the guidance of local, regional, and national authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. State Department, and the Massachusetts Governor’s office as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues worldwide.

In a press conference today, Massachusetts Governor Baker urged colleges and universities to suspend their international student travel programs. In light of similar guidance from the CDC, Worcester Polytechnic Institute has decided to cancel all travel to international D-Term project centers, as well as Puerto Rico. WPI is also suspending university-sponsored international travel by faculty, students, and staff until further notice.

Students and faculty returning from C-Term programs can continue to follow their plans to depart their project centers. Please note, however, because the COVID-19 outbreak is so dynamic, and the spread from person to person—and from city to city—is difficult to predict, WPI also strongly urges all students, faculty, and staff to reconsider personal travel to international destinations. (Please refer to the February 28 update regarding Spring Break travel.)

These decisions have been made out of an abundance of caution in collaboration with senior leadership and in consultation with the university’s Global Travel Review and Response Team and the Coronavirus Working Group. These two groups have been tracking global concerns about the virus, preparing our campus response, and making adjustments to programs as needed over the past six weeks.

While students and faculty will not be permitted to travel to D-Term project centers, we are already exploring numerous options to ensure every student has a fulfilling project experience. WPI remains committed to study abroad in higher education and values global and multicultural learning, and we intend to provide these learning opportunities for our students in a safe and meaningful way. WPI is working with creative and innovative faculty, students, and partners to develop alternatives.

WPI had expected 284 students and 23 faculty members to travel to 12 other countries in D-Term. We understand this news may be deeply disappointing for our students and faculty advisers, who have been preparing for this global experience for more than a year. 

We know there will be numerous questions from students, faculty, and staff regarding these decisions, next steps, and logistics. This is a fast-moving situation, and we are working to update information on our web page: https://www.wpi.edu/news/coronavirus.

Questions can be also directed to:

WPI takes great pride in educating students to be good global citizens and to have a positive impact on their world. This temporary change to our Global Projects Program to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health is in keeping with this mission.

Thank you,

President Leshin