UMN China study abroad programs suspended due to coronavirus outbreak

Staff and faculty have also been encouraged to re-evaluate their travel plans to China in an email that was sent out on Thursday.

Niamh Coomey

The University of Minnesota has suspended all student travel and study abroad programs in China for the spring semester due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to an email sent to staff and faculty on Thursday.

“The health and wellbeing of the U of M community is paramount. With this in mind, we are continuing to monitor the 2019 Novel Coronavirus and implement precautions as necessary,” the email read. 

The alert was sent to employees by Campus Public Health Officer Jakub Tolar, and encouraged staff and faculty to re-evaluate travel plans to China. 

“This decision is in accordance with recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. State Department,” the email read. 

In a statement emailed to the Minnesota Daily, the University’s Director of International Health, Safety and Compliance Kevin Dostal Dauer said the decision to suspend student travel and study abroad programs to China was made on Tuesday, Jan. 28. Students were not in China when the University made the decision.                                                                              

The timeline for when students planned to depart to China varied depending on the program, Dauer explained in the statement. Some students who were enrolled in programs that spanned the full academic year were in China for fall semester but returned to Minnesota for winter break. 

The University has been in contact with all students enrolled in these programs to help them determine their next steps. This is being handled on a case-by-case basis, according to the statement. 

In response to the suspension, some students have chosen a different study abroad location while others are deferring their program to a different semester, the statement read. Other students are working with advisers to enroll in available courses at the University.

In order for the suspension to be lifted, the institutions in China that receive University students will need to reopen, the statement read. Additionally, the University will continue to monitor alerts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of State’s Travel Advisory system, the statement said. 

“The health and safety of our students is our highest priority,” the statement read. 

This is a breaking news story. More information will be added as it becomes available.