March 10, 2020

Lake Union schools cancel trips as coronavirus threats spread

Schools across the Lake Union cancelled  trips because of concern relating to the spread of the deadly coronavirus.   On March 9, just days before...

Schools across the Lake Union cancelled  trips because of concern relating to the spread of the deadly coronavirus.


On March 9, just days before spring break would begin, Andrews University issued a statement cancelling university-sponsored international and domestic travel, and strongly encouraging Andrews community members to significantly reduce or eliminate domestic travel wherever possible.


In a letter from Provost Christon Arthur, he wrote: “I encourage all of us as Andrews community members to reduce or eliminate personal travel over the upcoming Andrews University Spring Break (March 13–22 for the University; March 16–20 for Andrews Academy and Ruth Murdoch Elementary School).

“For students who live in the United States, I understand that you may want to travel home to spend time with friends and family. However, at this time of international and domestic concern, I strongly urge each member of our community to make the choice to not use airline travel or other means of public transportation in the weeks to come, if that is at all possible.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Academy told parents that their spring break mission trip to the Philippines, where 33 students and 11 others were planning to help build a church and engage in other outreach ministry this week, was cancelled. Philippines is not on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warning list; however, the group had a connecting flight through South Korea, a country which travelers are recommended to avoid at this time. Besides South Korea, Italy, China and Venezuela are on the CDC’s warning list. 


In a letter to parents, principal Rosalee Rasmussen wrote: “Our students’ safety is of the utmost importance. With the world being in a state of chaos right now, it seems best not to put our students at risk.” 


In spite of the cancellation, the school’s Marketing director, Greg Edge, said that while they are disappointed, they are still committed to the mission in the Philippines. “Since we are partnering with local people, much of the work can go on with some adjustments. The evangelistic series has started with an evangelist who speaks the local language. The medical clinics will still happen. The church probably will be built more slowly.” 


The school is in the process of working with the airline and insurance company to see if refunds are possible. 


Outside of our Union, the coronavirus outbreak continues to have ripple effect. The North American Division cancelled its Pathfinder Bible Experience slated for Salem, Ore., next month. 


In an effort to provide schools and churches with up-to-date information on insurance coverages and tips for preventing the spread of this serious disease, Adventist Risk Management, Inc. (ARM) released this general overview, along with answers to frequently asked questions


Background Information 

COVID-19 was discovered in December 2019 in the city of Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. It is an aggressive respiratory infection that is believed to be transmitted through droplet spread when infected people cough or sneeze. The virus can gain access to the body through the respiratory tract, mainly through the nose and mouth. Symptoms are similar to the common influenza strain and include fever, cough, muscle pain, shortness of breath and fatigue. 
Initially isolated to mainland China, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reporting for the first time that there are more new cases being discovered outside China than from within China.[1] As of their March 1 report, the WHO is reporting 87,137 confirmed cases, with only 7,169 of those outside of China.[2] 
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 494 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19, meaning they have tested positive by a public health laboratory and are pending confirmation by the CDC. This includes at least two cases of where the virus was contracted by individuals with no relevant travel history.[3] The first death due to COVID-19 in the United States was reported in Washington State on February 29[4]
Regarding travel, the CDC has issued the following recommendations[5]

  • Warning (Level 3) – avoid all non-essential travel to China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Entry of foreign nationals from China and Iran into the U.S. has been suspended. 
  • Alert (Level 2) – older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing travel to Japan. 
  • Watch (Level 1) – use regular travel precautions for travel to Hong Kong. 


Precaution and Prevention 

Using good hygiene practices can further reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19. Here are some simple preventative measures you can take: 

  • If you are symptomatic (fever, coughing, sneezing, body aches, etc.), do not go out in public where you can infect others. The common influenza/flu virus also is very active right now and has killed more people already this year than COVID-19. If you’re sick, stay home! 
  • Frequently wash hands with soap and warm water, scrubbing hands for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer also may be effective. 
  • Follow proper etiquette when sneezing or coughing. Sneeze and cough into your elbow rather than your hand to avoid spreading the germs. 
  • Consider using a mask when traveling or in public areas. Masks especially should be used if you are coughing or sneezing frequently. 
  • Maintain at least 3 feet (1 meter) between yourself and other people in public, if possible. Avoid close contact with those who cough or are sneezing. 
  • Avoid touching/rubbing your eyes, nose and mouth, especially in public places where germs are easily spread. 
  • If you develop a cough or experience changes in your breathing, see your primary care physician as soon as possible. Be prepared to share your travel history with the doctor. 
  • Avoid open markets and direct contact with animals/animal products 
  • Use careful food-safety practices (cook food thoroughly, wash produce well, use only pasteurized milk, etc.). 



This is an ongoing situation that is evolving quickly. For updated information regarding the spread of the virus and travel advisories, please consult the following resources: 
World Health Organization – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) 
International SOS – Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak 
U.S. State Department – Current Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)