Elon University students traveling with Semester at Sea will be disembarking their voyage prematurely on Wednesday, March 25, in Cape Town, South Africa, because of the increased threat of the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
The students on the trip will be completing their coursework online for the remainder of the semester.
“The latest State Department/CDC advisory makes it irresponsible to continue with the voyage to any other port and beyond a disembarkation date of March 25,” said Scott Marshall, Semester at Sea’s vice president for academic affairs, in an announcement made on Wednesday, March 11.
The Semester at Sea ship — The MV World Odyssey — embarked on Jan. 4 from San Diego and traveled to Hawaii, Japan, Vietnam, Mauritius and South Africa.
According to Kenn Gaither, member of the Semester at Sea board of trustees and associate dean of the school of communications, there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus on board.
Gaither said every student on the trip will receive a prorated stipend of at least $300 back from Semester at Sea to fly home from South Africa.
“No one is expected to be tested [for the coronavirus],” Gaither said. “Now having said that, Semester at Sea has been very vigilant following maritime laws for testing and disinfecting aboard the ship.”
On the same day the program announced it was disembarking early, the university suspended in-person classes after spring break.