Princeton University has restricted travel for students, faculty, and staff members, prohibiting them from visiting countries where the COVID-19 virus has spread: Mainland China, South Korea, Italy, and Iran. The university is advising anyone coming back from those countries to self-quarantine for two weeks upon their return.
It is also recommending cancelling or rescheduling visits to Japan and Mongolia.
“There is an understandably high level of concern as this virus spreads, and we are closely monitoring the evolving situation,” the university wrote on its website. “Beyond mainland China, several other countries are now reporting localized COVID-19 outbreaks.”
The travel restrictions are aligned with travel health notices issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Department of State. The university policy allows exceptions “only in rare circumstances” and with advance permission, according to a written policy.
Princeton University has sought to cultivate ties with China in recent years, and has operated an office in Beijing since 2014. The Princeton China Center is located on the campus of Tsinghua University and exists to support faculty, students, and staff studying or conducting research in China.
Similarly, Princeton University Press opened an office in Beijing in 2017, to sell books on the Chinese market. (U.S. 1, February 7, 2018.)
In a letter to the campus community on March 3, university president Christopher Eisgruber acknowledged that disruptions to campus life were likely.
“We are bound to face significant inconveniences and disruptions in the days and weeks ahead. Public health situations like the one presented by Covid-19 are, by their very nature, unpredictable and constantly changing. We will continue to work with our local, state, and federal partners to prepare for and deal with new challenges as they arise,” he wrote.
“Given the risks posed by the virus and how little is known about it, we will likely have to make some difficult choices as situations arise. Our top priority must be to support the health and wellbeing of our community as we continue to advance our teaching and research mission. Though we will try our best to minimize resulting burdens, I do not expect that we can eliminate them.”