Menomonie (WQOW) -- UW-Stout officials announced the university of suspending its study abroad program based in South Korea because of concerns about student safety tied to the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement released to News 18, UW-Stout officials wrote:
"As the COVID-19, or coronavirus, continues to spread, I have approved a recommendation to suspend the UW-Stout study abroad program in South Korea and directed that efforts be made to return students currently in the country to return safely to the United States. The recommendation to suspend the program came from Sandi Scott, dean of students; Scott Pierson, director of the Office of International Education; and Jim Uhlir, director of safety and risk management.
The health and safety of our students, whether on campus or abroad, is our tantamount concern. That is why we are making this difficult decision to suspend our study abroad program in South Korea, as well as evaluating our study abroad programs elsewhere. With this every-changing situation, decisions about the future of other study abroad programs will be made and communicated as soon as decisions are reached. For now, South Korea remains the only program that is impacted.
Our decision was based on the serious nature of this outbreak. Of the more than 81,000 coronavirus cases reported worldwide, nearly 1,000 have been in South Korea, where 10 people have died of the disease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 advisory for South Korea, advising travelers to avoid all nonessential travel there. "
Right now, the university has eight students enrolled in the program and five students currently in South Korea.
Spokesperson Doug Mell said the university has been in contact with all but two students and they expect all will return to the United States shortly. Mell said the university is working with the students on their transportation and other details to ensure their transition back home.