Swine Flu Temporarily Halts Midd Study Abroad in Egypt

The Middlebury C.V. Starr School in the Middle East has temporarily stopped classes due to a case of H1N1 (swine flu) at the request of the Alexandria University, Middlebury’s host institution in Egypt. A male student on another study abroad program, the Flagship Program, came down with flu-like symptoms. His illness has not been officially confirmed as swine flu. As a result, all male students enrolled at the Middlebury school will be kept in dorm quarantine (yes, with access to food and the outdoors) and classes will be canceled for three days.

Dean of International Programs Jeff Cason wrote in an email to MiddBlog, “…we are complying with the University’s request… [and] are in the process of writing up a brief summary of the situation, which we will share with all students and study abroad advisors from other institutions who have sent students on our program.”

There seems to be a sense that all of this is an overreaction. Michael Nevadomski ’09, in Egypt teaching English, wrote on his blog, “Most universities throughout Egypt have been closed since Ramadan due to widespread fear of outbreaks…Response to this is mixed; some say it’s warranted (not me), other say it’s a huge mismanagement of resources… in fact, many object to the weeks-long delay of classes past the end of Ramadan. Latest word is that classes in Alexandria are not scheduled to begin until sometime around the 12 of October.”

The Middlebury Study Abroad summary says: “Our staff has been, and will continue to visit students in the men’s dorm.  The staff is currently working on establishing arrangements to continue classes should the center for Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language at Alexandria University be closed for an extended period of time.”

If you have friends studying abroad in Alexandria right now, give ’em a shout to check in with them.

EDIT 11:14PM: According to a male Middlebury student in Alexandria, they’ve been told “one week in quarantine without hot water or internet.”