FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – As tens of thousands of college students across Colorado prepare for spring break, fears of the spread of coronavirus have forced Colorado State University to prohibit some trips for students. Students who signed up to participate in the Alternative Spring Break program at CSU learned the university cancelled their trips this week amid fears of COVID-19 spreading to the campus or the communities where they traveled.

“An alternative break is a service learning trip,” said Rachel Probst, Student Coordinator for Alternative Breaks at CSU. “Each of them are a service learning trip. So, they focus on a different social, environmental or economic justice issues.”

Colorado State University in Fort Collins (credit: CBS)

Alternative Breaks place students in 15 different communities that are underprivileged or underserved. While in those communities, students are tasked with not only giving back, but also bringing back knowledge of how they can use their experience to improve Northern Colorado.

RELATED: Latest Updates On The Coronavirus Outbreak In Colorado

Fifteen trips were canceled out of caution. Thirteen of those trips take place in different states, with one taking place in Colorado. The fifteenth was scheduled to take place in Panama. All were canceled.

“(My group was) going to travel to Las Vegas, We were working with victims of human trafficking,” Probst told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

RELATED: CSU Cancels Non-Essential and International Official Travel

Others, like junior Maeve Marley, planned to visit Native American reservations in North and South Dakotas.

“We planned to visit Pine Ridge Reservation, and the Cheyenne River Tribe,” Marley said.
After speaking with university officials, students like Probst and Marley agreed all trips should be cancelled.

“COVID-19 has been a really big issue,” Probst said.

(credit: CBS)

The university elected to cancel the trips, with some saying preventing the spread of coronavirus to students wasn’t necessarily the priority.

“Perhaps, even more so, (preserving) the health and safety of the communities we were going to go visit,” Marley said.

“We could bring the virus to really vulnerable communities,” Probst said.

According to Colorado State University, no students have been linked to positive tests for COVID-19.

In 2018, some trips were cancelled due to the bomb cyclone.

“This is a whole different ball game,” Marley said. “Most of our trips visited marginalized communities that do not have the same privilege access to health care. It really defeated the purpose of alt-break as a whole, for us to enter communities knowing we could potentially be carriers of a virus that could hurt the people we were there to learn from and possibly help.”

Some student organizers, like Probst, said they hoped students with cancelled trips would instead choose to give back to their hometown communities while on break.

Additional Information from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment:

  • Practice good hygiene. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. In the absence of soap and water, use hand-sanitizer; use your elbow or sleeve to cover coughs and sneezes
  • Stay home if you’re sick; keep your children home if they are sick. The illness can last for many days so make preparations now to work from home if possible.
  • We advise Coloradans to always be prepared for an emergency– like a large snowstorm– and have a plan for your family. Make sure to have 72 hours of key supplies on hand like medications, infant formula, diapers, pet food, etc. FEMA guidance for pre-pandemic COVID-19 preparedness is available on Ready.gov.
  • Stay informed with reliable, up-to-date information. People who have general questions about coronavirus disease 2019, can call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English and Spanish (Español), Mandarin (普通话), and more.

Dillon Thomas

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