FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 29, 2009
Contact: K.E. Schwab
SRU plans alternative commencement
for students returned from Mexico City
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - The 22 Slippery Rock University students who returned from Mexico City Tuesday following their student-teaching experience are considering a number of alternative ceremonies to mark their college graduation amid health concerns following their possible exposure to the swine flu virus.
Details of what form that ceremony might take will depend on the majority opinion of the involved students. All of the program participants were sent e-mails seeking their opinion. A decision is expected Thursday.
"This was a very difficult decision since these students have done outstanding work and were looking forward to graduating with their classmates. However, given the unknowns, we have an obligation to protect others from what they believe is possible exposure to this virus," said William Williams, provost and vice president for academic affairs.
The University has received hundreds of calls from students and parents who were worried about being exposed at the commencement ceremonies. The ceremonies will see 1,341 diplomas awarded and are expected to draw nearly 5,000 people.
The e-mail advised students of the latest information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which reported the basic incubation period for swine flu is seven to 10 days. SRU's Saturday commencement ceremony falls in the middle of that incubation period. The CDC advises that people who may have been exposed should limit their contact with others.
It is unknown if any of the students were actually exposed to the virus during their student teaching experience and all report good health at this time. It is possible the students were exposed to the virus during their five-week student-teaching experience in Mexico City as part of their educational requirements. The students were brought home two days early after Mexican officials closed schools to help reduce the possible spread of the disease.
Mexico has been hard hit by the virus, and health officials there have taken a number of precautionary steps they believe will help contain the spread of the virus.
The international teaching experience is regarded as a major benefit when applying for a teaching position. SRU offers a similar program in Dublin, Ireland.
Details on the alternative plan will be announced as soon as possible.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.