University asks study abroad participants, TU AIPAC conference attendees to self-quarantine

By: Bailey Hendricks, Editor-in-Chief

Towson University has requested that all American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference attendees and study abroad participants who were recalled from their host countries to self-isolate, according to a statement sent from TU Communications to The Towerlight.

This weekend, TU was made aware of nine students and one staff member that attended the AIPAC conference in Washington, D.C. where there were reports of confirmed COVID-19 (New Coronavirus 2019) cases.

“While the number of conference attendees and size of the conference would likely make the TU attendees low risk for direct exposure, out of an abundance of caution, the TU Health Center, following USM guidance, requested that all of the TU attendees self-isolate at home and away from the TU campus for 14 days from the last day that they attended the conference,” TU’s statement to The Towerlight read.

One student who attended the AIPAC conference told three of their mass communication professors that they will be in self-isolation.

“One of my professors told me that one of his students is currently being [self-]quarantined,” said Melissa Baltimore, a TU sophomore.

Faculty of one of the students who attended the AIPAC conference has been in communication with the TU Health Center. The University made arrangements to wipe clean and disinfect the classrooms where the student’s classes were being held.

The faculty of the student were given the option to convert their classes to an online format.

Mass communication professor Tamara Henry sent an email to her News Reporting students, staff writers for the Baltimore Watchdog, a news website that features stories written by Towson University journalism students, the morning of March 9. The email informed the students that they should “minimize how much you go into the community unless you are certain of your safety visiting a site.”

Henry urged her students to think of creative ways to cover events instead.

“Most of our stories can be done by phone,” Henry said in her email to her students. “Try to Skype interviews so that you still may be able to provide a personal touch to your reporting. The County Council can be covered by watching the live video stream; the Board of Education also records its meetings and posts them online.”

Mass communication professor and editor-in-chief of the Baltimore Watchdog John Kirch said the decision was made in an effort to keep students safe.

“Dr. Tamara Henry and I hope that our reporting students will still be able to cover important news events in person, but we do not want to put anyone in unnecessary danger of being exposed to the Coronavirus,” Kirch said. “We will assess each situation to make sure that the Baltimore Watchdog continues to cover the region while also keeping our students safe.”

– Assistant News Editor Sophia Bates and Senior Editor Tim Klapac contributed to this article.

– This article was updated at 5:49 p.m. on March 9. 

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