The annual Beijing Jingshan School Exchange Program was postponed “indefinitely” due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus in China, according to Chinese teacher Star Lew.
The coronavirus, a respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China, has spread quickly around the world and has left 724 dead and over 34,000 infected according to NBC News, forced North and South to postpone their four-month trip to visit their sister school, Jingshan School, in Beijing. The CDC is working to find a vaccine for the virus, but have had no success so far.
Sophomore Shoshi Tanowitz said although upsetting, canceling the exchange was the right move.
“At first, I was a little annoyed that it was postponed because I was mentally prepared for it and I said all my goodbyes,” she said. “ It was also disappointing to not go because I already started talking to my host family and I really wanted to meet them. But at the same time, it’s good that it’s been postponed because then we will have a much lower risk of getting the virus.”
Lew added that a main reason for postponing the trip was to ensure
“We want to make sure our students and teachers are safe,” Lew said. “Hopefully, if everything’s under control, we can still send a group of students and teachers to go.”
Seven students from both schools planned to attend the exchange.
The exchange requires Newton participants to attend an intensive four-week summer institute and continue the study of Chinese language and culture in the fall. All preparation is led by the Newton Public Schools.
The trip usually includes where chaperones would teach English, and students would attend classes in Chinese, history, art, music, math, science, and martial arts—all taught in Chinese, according to the program’s website.
Sophomore Antonio Dalton agreed that it is annoying after so much preparation, canceling the exchange was the best choice for students.
“I feel like it was the right decision,” Dalton said. “The Coronavirus in China right now is keeping everyone in their houses and off the streets. Going to China would be close to pointless because we would be stuck in our houses.”