On March 11, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a travel ban from most of Europe to the U.S. for the next thirty days. This procedure of caution comes as the number of coronavirus cases surpasses 1,000 in the U.S. Such drastic measures are being taken to ensure the U.S. is safe from the negligence in closing the borders that led to the tens of thousands of cases in China and Italy.
Some argue that there is less point in having this restrictive ban put in place after the virus is already spreading throughout the country. However, it seems the whole objective of the ban is to keep more cases of the coronavirus from coming in from outside of the U.S.
Students from Bloomington South travelled to France, which also has around 1,000 cases right now, on March 10, the day before the ban was announced. Now, parents and students are left speculating when, and if, they will be able to return home.
“My room, one other room and the chaperones were up at 3am our time this morning after we heard about it initially so we’ve been stressed for a long time,” Lizzie Allen, a student from the French trip, said.
At first, the travel ban can seem impenetrable and unsustainable. Are students expected to be stuck in France for a month, without secure housing, insurance, medical care or their families?
There are two spots of luck that can bring hope for the French exchange students. Firstly, the travel ban will not be put in place until 11:59 pm on March 13. This gave students and teachers time to find an alternative track in coming home.
Second, and most importantly, it was clarified after Trump’s announcement that the ban would only apply to foreign nationals, meaning that U.S citizens, their families and their cargo are safe to travel back from Europe. They are still able to return to the U.S., although it may be anticipated that the expected arrival at the airport will be slowed with tests and questioning.
As of now, it appears that the French Exchange are planning to return home on March 17, cutting the expected two-week trip in half. This will still give students time to explore before heading home.
“We’re a lot better now that things have been sorted out for sure,” Allen said. “But…that’s basically it, we’ll be back Tuesday, hopefully no one will be sick, and things are fine now.”
Plans for self-quarantine after the French trip is up to the decision of the returning students and their families, or it could also be strictly enforced as they enter U.S. airports by officials.
MCCSC recently just announced school cancellations from March 13-March 27. Online classes will start for students on March 23, following spring break, and will be taken primarily on Canvas. Check out Optimist’s FAQ (https://www.bloomingtonsouthoptimist.org/14826/news/coronavirus-and-south-faq/ ) for more information.