Some colleges and universities in Massachusetts have canceled and changed plans for students in response to the coronavirus outbreak in China.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has canceled its spring programs in Shanghai and Beijing, saying the the decision was made with student health in mind and in light of travel restrictions within China.
"If [students are] not able to travel on excursions, then their experience is going to be degraded," Mark Eckman, UMass director of education abroad, told WBUR. "If the university has to shut down in the middle of the term, it may be at a point where they're no long able to recover any credits from this semester and for some students, that can be a catastrophic outcome."
Boston University's study abroad program in Shanghai was scheduled to begin mid-February, but the school has postponed it indefinitely. The university said some 20 students have been accommodated in other study abroad programs or are continuing their studies in Boston.
Suffolk University has canceled their plans for two students slated to study in China this semester. The school said they're monitoring developments on coronavirus to determine if two business school seminars scheduled to travel to China in May will need to be rescheduled.
Clark University in Worcester said two students were slated to study abroad in China this semester, but the school's partner, CET Academic Programs Abroad in Beijing and Shanghai, has suspended all programs.
In a letter to the Harvard Community, the school strongly discourages travel to China. And according to The Boston Globe, Simmons University, Amherst College, Providence College, Vermont's Middlebury College and the University of Rhode Island, have all suspended their study abroad programs in China.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, thousands have been infected in China, and there are five confirmed cases in the United States. Chinese authorities report 170 deaths from the respiratory illness, which has spread to more 7,700 people in China and 68 people globally.