CDC to Colleges: ‘Consider’ Canceling Exchange Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. has released guidance for institutes of higher education with students participating in foreign exchange or study abroad programs.

The CDC suggests students consider postponing or canceling student foreign exchange programs and has released the following message:

Given the global outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) institutes of higher education (IHEs) should consider postponing or canceling upcoming student foreign exchange programs. IHEs should consider asking current program participants to return to their home country. Those overseeing student foreign exchange programs should be aware that students may face unpredictable circumstances, travel restrictions, and challenges in returning home or accessing health care while abroad.

IHEs should consider asking students participating in study abroad programs to return to the U.S.

IHEs should work with state and local public health officials to determine the best approach for when and how (e.g., chartered transportation for countries or areas assessed as high-risk for exposure) their study abroad students might return. All plans for returning study abroad students should be designed to protect participants from stigma and discrimination.

The COVID-19 situation is dynamic. Given the speed of spread and the number of countries experiencing human-to-human transmission, IHEs should evaluate the risks associated with choosing to maintain programs abroad and take the appropriate proactive measures.

IHEs that continue to maintain programs abroad should monitor cdc.gov/COVID-19 for additional information.

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