Princeton University orders 100 students to ‘self-isolate’ after China trips

Princeton University has ordered students, faculty and staff who recently traveled to China to self-isolate as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread worldwide.

More than 100 students — including undergraduate and graduate students — are in self-isolation, according to Michael Hotchkiss, deputy university spokesperson. They must confine themselves for 14 days following their last visit to mainland China, according to a statement issued by the university.

The mandate requires that they remain indoors and not attend classes or jobs on campus.

“Each student’s needs are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure they receive appropriate assistance,” Hotchkiss told NJ Advance Media in an email Monday.

The virus has infected 17,000 people in more than two dozen countries, including 11 confirmed cases in the U.S. It has killed more than 360 people — nearly all of them in China and none in the U.S.

Princeton said it is working to implement guidelines from the New Jersey Department of Health.

Ben Chang, spokesman for the university, said it is coordinating to ensure those accommodations are met.

The university is still hashing out details, such as how to take care of students’ laundry, meals — and nearly everything else in their daily lives while they remain in isolation. Keeping up with their coursework might be the easiest solution to find — virtual classes are an option to ensure they keep up with their studies.

“A big team of folks have been working for days to meet the academic housing and dining needs for students self-isolating,” Chang said. “We’re working on a one-on-one basis, whether that is arranging classes virtually … to keep up with their academic work.”

“We want to get this right,” he added.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Monday creating a coronavirus task force, which will “coordinate all State efforts to appropriately prepare for and respond to the public health hazard posed by the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV),” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

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