FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Novel coronavirus has now sickened over 80,000 people.
It has spread to at least 39 countries as of Wednesday (Feb. 26).
At least five American universities have suspended study abroad programs in Italy, where the number of confirmed cases has risen to over 400, including 12 deaths.
In Northwest Arkansas, universities with students abroad are taking precautions.
At the University of Arkansas, three study abroad programs for summer 2020 in China has been cancelled, and its are closely monitoring the programs in Italy and South Korea.
“The moment that their safety is put in danger at all, we’re going to make sure they get home safely,” said John Thomas, Manager of University Communications. “If we have to make the decision to bring anyone home, we are prepared to do that at a moments notice.”
Each year more than 1,000 students participate in study abroad or international exchange at UA, according to its website.
The University of Arkansas Rome Center has postponed school travel and local excursions through March 1, but all other aspects of the Rome Center are operating as usual.
“The main thing that our campus is doing is continuing those phone calls and conference calls, and talking to Arkansas Department of Health and talking to the CDC…making sure we know what’s at hand and we know what’s going on at all times,” Thomas said.
John Brown University has canceled a graduate studies trip to China that was planned for this summer.
Two students are currently studying abroad in South Korea.
Face-to-face courses have been converted to online classes and the university is encouraging students to stay on campus and take appropriate health precautions.
Both schools say they are in close communication with all of its study abroad students, and are monitoring the outbreak closely.