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Beijing Summer Program Cancelled as University Reinforces Coronavirus Warning

Harvard University Health Services has a location in the Smith Campus Center.
Harvard University Health Services has a location in the Smith Campus Center. By Megan M. Ross
By Fiona K. Brennan, Crimson Staff Writer

After Harvard University Health Services reiterated that University-related travel to China is “strongly discouraged” due to the rapidly spreading coronavirus, Director of the Harvard Beijing Academy Jennifer L. Liu informed participants that the 2020 iteration of the summer program is canceled.

University Provost Alan M. Garber ’77 and HUHS Director Giang T. Nguyen sent expanded guidance concerning the outbreak — which was officially named COVID-19 last week — in an email to Harvard affiliates Thursday. This is the third such communication regarding coronavirus sent by the pair over the past month.

The administrators wrote that University-related travel to mainland China requires approval from the Provost.

In light of the updated guidance and concerns about student health and safety, Liu informed HBA participants of the program’s cancellation, according to an email obtained by The Crimson.

“Given the logistical complexities of our large summer program and the prolonged uncertainty, the operation of our 2020 program is not feasible,” Liu wrote.

Garber and Nguyen also advised Harvard affiliates who returned from a trip to China on or after Jan. 19 to submit a health form to HUHS if they have not already done so.

In an interview Wednesday, Nguyen said few students from the College have been affected by coronavirus concerns because most had already arrived on campus by the time the disease had “exploded.”

For those few students who had not, HUHS recommended a period of self-isolation in their own homes.

“The recommendation is to stay at home and not participate in classes, in group activities and so on, for the duration of the self-isolation period,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen and Garber wrote in the Thursday email that faculty and staff members should be flexible in dealing with students who are affected by the outbreak. They also urged Harvard affiliates to be respectful of others, including people wearing face masks around campus.

“Do not assume that a person wearing a face mask is infectious, or that they should be avoided,” they wrote. “Treating all members of our community with respect and consideration is as important now as at any other time.”

HUHS aims to keep Harvard affiliates updated on the coronavirus situation through periodic emails and collaboration with campus partners, according to Nguyen.

“Our effort has been to make sure that people know what they need to know but not worry more than they need to worry,” Nguyen said.

—Staff writer Fiona K. Brennan can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FionaBrennan23.

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