Coronavirus impacts broadcasting students trip, forced to return

Student Television Network officials announced Wednesday the annual convention was canceled amid the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. 

STN, which was hosting media students in the nation’s Capitol, made the announcement Wednesday after D.C. city officials urged STN organizers to cancel. 

STN made the announcement on their website, saying, “Due to the D.C. Health Department’s recommendation that non-essential mass gatherings of 1,000 or more, including conferences and conventions, be postponed or cancelled, the board of directors has made the decision to cancel the 2020 STN Convention and related contests and activities.” 

The convention gives students the opportunity to compete in multiple contests against peers across the country, according to Joseph Wittman, broadcasting teacher. He added that students get to also meet industry professionals and attend a media based college fair. 

About 15 broadcast students at the Columbia Area Career Center flew up Wednesday. Activities were scheduled to start Thursday and last until Sunday. 

“We were under the impression that officials had everything under control,” Ema Higgins, junior, said. “The night before we left conference organizers released an update saying that the conference was still happening and that they were switching to a modified convention.”

According to the press release, the “modified convention” would allow students to watch ceremonies online and edit in their own hotel rooms.

Convention organizers added that the modifications was to “avoid major crowding.” 

“In ways I can understand why they decided to cancel,” Higgins said. “If they hosted it, people’s health would be at risk.” 

Students found out about the cancelation just hours after landing. Officials released the statement just after 5 p.m. Wednesday. 

“We didn’t believe it,” Mikayla Mogensen, senior at Rock Bridge High School said. “Being a senior made it ten times worse because I won’t be able to experience something like this again.” 

The announcement also left Columbia Public School officials scrambling to figure out when students would return from their trip. The district asked that students return as soon as possible.

“It was hectic,” Higgins said. “We were all making phone calls trying to get in contact with our families about the changes and switching flights.”

Wittman said there are plans to reimburse students for the trip. He added that the district is also looking at other ways to make up for the cancelation. 

“We are hoping my students and I can find an activity before the end of the year such as an amusement park trip,” Wittman said. 

Students returned from Washington D.C. on Thursday evening.

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