Study abroad

Yesenia Mendez and Spencer Cameron

The Contra Costa Community College District is canceling all unnecessary trips that consist of traveling for staff and students. As of March 10, Los Medanos College reports to have zero confirmed cases of the novel Coronavirus on the campus, but they are following specific guidelines from the Contra Costa Health Services to reduce the risks of disease transmission. 

Travel measures will be effective immediately and will be in effect until April 30, 2020 or until further notice. 

All of the travel requests within LMC will be evaluated based on the exposure and transmission risk levels associated with the mode of traveling to certain destinations and the type of gathering. All employees will be compensated for any lost travel costs in the result of  the cancellation. 

With that being said, many events and trips domestically and internationally are being postponed and canceled to reduce any risks from outside exposure. 

One event that was supposed to take place in Fresno from March 11 to March 15, the 2020 California Community College Forensics Association State Championship Tournament, was cancelled.

“I can not tell you how many hours I’ve put into paperwork, planning and booking travel for this tournament,” said LMC Professor Star Steers.

The tournament was especially cautioned because like many other community college tournaments it is what’s called a hotel tournament, “meaning that the competition actually takes place in the competitors’ hotel rooms,” said Steers. “Numerous people cycle through a given hotel room for speech and debate rounds during the day, so I can see and understand that the cleanliness situation would be virtually impossible to control.”

The tournament’s cancellation didn’t come as a surprise to the debate team but they understood the precautions and advice from the County Health Services, to limit gatherings of 50 or more people. 

“As a human and as a teacher, I find it extremely frustrating that people are politicizing the COVID-19 outbreak and downplaying its potential seriousness. It is not just media hype to make President Trump look bad or to distract us from the election. It is not just a bad flu, it is a new strain of virus, and it is harmful to vulnerable populations. It doesn’t need to kill thousands of people on American soil for us to take it seriously,” said Steers. “It’s not asking too much for us to practice the ‘social distancing’ that the CDC is asking for.”

The cancellation of student-based programs doesn’t stop domestically. In February 91 CCCCD students embarked on a trip in which they would be studying in Italy. 

However, that trip was cut short for the 23 DVC and two LMC students.

Italy is currently experiencing the second-largest outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. The country, known for its many tourist attractions first joined the list of infected countries on January 30, when two Chinese tourists were tested positive for the virus.

Italy currently has the highest number of reported cases in Europe, and the highest number of reported cases outside of China.

As of March 11, there are 12,462 reported cases with 827 deaths and 1,045 recoveries. With 11,417 active cases and with the virus spreading like wildfire, it was time to end the trip.

“Most of them should be home today; some of them elected to stay in Italy,” said Toni Fannin, the CCCCD Northern California Study Abroad Consortium Director.

Their return from a heavily-infected country resulted in some questions regarding safety.

“We are urging returning students to self-quarantine in compliance with County regulations,” Fannin said. “When the students began leaving Italy, the CDC and Contra Costa County were recommending self-quarantine of two weeks. I have heard as the Bay Area moves from containment to risk mitigation that may change,” she continued.