Baylor releases statement postponing university-sponsored travel to China

Photo courtesy of Baylor University eNews

By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer

All university-sponsored travel to China has been temporarily postponed due to a level three warning about travel that was released on Monday evening as a result of the Coronavirus.

As this respiratory virus can be passed from person to person, Baylor said they have postponed travel to China for global safety and security.

While it is unclear how long travel will be postponed for, it is something that could potentially last several months.

The United States Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a warning on Monday. Jared Bickenbach, Director of Global Safety and Security in the Baylor Department of Public Safety, stated that once the advisory hits a level three, the State Department issues a warning for the public to reconsider travel to the nation.

There are currently no planned university-sponsored trips to China within the next month and a half. Civil unrest in Hong Kong has already led university officials to postpone some trips.

“There’s some trips that were supposed to have layovers in China,” Bickenbach said. “We’re working with those groups to book around China so they can have layovers in Japan or fly to Europe and then onto their final destination instead of stopping over in China.”

An official statement has been released by the university that said that all international travel will continue to run as scheduled.

“Baylor University will continue to monitor the situation in China and throughout the region,” the statement said. “In addition, all University-sponsored travel for faculty, staff and students needs to be registered with the Center for Global Engagement.”

Baylor does not have any students or faculty members currently in China which allowed Bickenbach to reach out to the Center for Global Engagement and leadership at the Baylor Department of Public Safety in order to make the decision alongside university executive leadership.

“Given something as large-scale as the Coronavirus outbreak in China, and what we’ve seen globally, the actions that the Chinese government is taking, it makes the decision pretty easy for us to postpone travel temporarily right now while the situation kind of plays itself out,” Bickenbach said.

The Baylor Department of Public Safety, alongside the Center for Global Engagement, wants to remind students to always register their travel in plenty of time before their departure. Additionally, to check the State Department and the CDC’s travel advisories online before booking a trip to ensure there are no health concerns with the nation they are traveling to.

“If [a student] is going on an organized study abroad trip then typically, they talk to a study abroad advisor and then they’re put in the system that way,” Bickenbach said. “Students do travel individually for a number of things. It’s probably more prominent with graduate and Ph.D students when they travel to conferences but we do have students who will be on exchange programs at another university that will book their own travel and so they would have to register as well.”

Students and faculty can visit the Center for Global Engagement’s website and search “Register Travel” for more information.

The university is monitoring the situation abroad and in the U.S. and the Center for Global Engagement along with the Baylor Department of Public Safety and the State Department will release updates to the Baylor population as needed.