Forget your semester abroad, WSU says as it suspends programs for safety

February 28, 2020, 4:07 PM

Wayne State students who planned to study this spring in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and South America will attend classes in Detroit instead.

The university suspends all international programs, President M. Roy Wilson says in an email sent campus-wide Friday. "It is important that we take extraordinary precautions in this extraordinary time," he writes. "I feel our precautions should extend beyond the advice of the [federal government]."

Wilson refers to a U.S. State Department travel warning that Americans shouldn't visit China, where the potentially fatal coronavirus began spreading in December. WSU has six academic programs in seven Chinese cities.

Hundreds of its students also earn credit each year for courses in Japan, South Korea, Italy, Russia, Belarus and dozens of other distant places.

Wayne State will refund semester abroad payments and "work with our faculty to ensure that students receive full credit for their courses," says the president, who also suggests that students, faculty and staff "consider postponing personal international travel until the [Centers for Disease Control] lifts its travel warnings and feels COVID-19 is under control."

In a personal aside, Wilson explains why he "decided to forgo shaking hands as much as possible:"

"While socially awkward, my training in epidemiology and public health makes me believe this is the right approach to reduce the risk of spreading infection. To that end, I ask your indulgence if I, or others, choose a different greeting."

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