Student delegates from across the country were due to arrive in Washington, D.C., this weekend.
The 58th Annual U.S. Senate Youth Program has been canceled due to coronavirus fears, just two days before students were due to arrive in Washington, D.C.
After being emailed arrival information at 8 a.m., student delegates and parents were notified of the cancellation at 1:25 p.m. on Thursday, March 5.
According to the email, the decision was made by the program’s medical staff after receiving guidance and information from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention and other federal public health experts.
“Collectively we recognize that the current level of uncertainty and risk surrounding COVID-19 renders it essential for prudence to be prioritized. The health and safety of our delegates, staff, military mentors, speakers and supporters are paramount. The nature of this unique program puts our students in close contact with the highest-level leadership in all three branches of government,” states the email.
During Senate Youth Week, participants meet with members of the Senate, a Supreme Court justice, the president and military officers.
As of March 4, according to the CDC, 99 cases of COVID-19 have been reported from 13 states, resulting in 10 deaths.
“We want to recognize the profound efforts that each delegate undertook to be selected, and the support of your families, teachers, counselors to make your participation possible,” states the email. “We also want to thank our USSYP team for making every possible effort to undertake Washington Week in as safe and enjoyable way, their efforts on the delegates’ behalf have been monumental. This team spends the entire year planning for Washington Week, so they, too, feel deep disappointment at this unanticipated and highly unlikely occurrence.
It is the second time in the program’s almost sixty-year history that the program has been canceled.
A representative at the U.S. Senate Youth Program office in Washington, D.C. declined to comment.
Delegates will still receive the $10,000 scholarship that comes with being selected to attend the program.