2 Texas universities cancel international travel amid COVID-19 fears

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Rice University has announced it will be canceling all university-sponsored international Spring Break trips and other official international student travel.

The announcement was made due to coronavirus concerns, as well as for the health and safety of the students and staff.

According to the university, the suspension will be until the CDC travel restrictions and guidance regarding student travel has been lifted.

Rice's decision comes two days after the Harris County Public Health officials said they were investigating after a university employee went into self-quarantine for possible coronavirus symptoms over the weekend.

HCPH said once the individual is tested, the sample would be sent to the Houston Health Department, who will forward it to the CDC.

They say test results may take anywhere from 24- 72 hours.

Rice University asked a small group of its employees and students to self-quarantine after fearing that a university employee may have been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus while overseas.

The university says although the country the employee visited is not on the CDC restricted travel list, they wanted to be cautious.

"The university is taking all necessary precautionary steps and working closely with and at the guidance of Harris County Public Health," the release said.

Rice is not the first university to cancel their international trips. On Monday, Texas A&M announced it is canceling Texas A&M University-sponsored student education abroad spring programs to countries that are categorized as level 1, 2, and 3. China, Iran, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong fall under those categories.

"For faculty and staff, only mission-critical travel to countries Level 1 or above will be considered and will require prior high-level institutional approval," the university stated.

Any student, faculty or staff member who travels for personal reasons to any country on the CDC's level 2 and level 3 warning list, must self-isolate and stay away from campus for two weeks after returning to the U.S., according to campus officials.

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