Local universities encourage students to return from China amid coronavirus outbreak

Students studying abroad in China are being asked to come back home amid the coronavirus outbreak. Universities in the DMV are helping facilitate that return. 

George Washington University has a big international student population. They’re currently in contact with students studying abroad in China monitoring their departure to make sure they’re safe. 

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Officials at American University are also urging their students to come back, and temporarily banning university-related travel to China.

In total, nine AU students studying in Beijing are being brought back. A university spokesperson tells FOX 5 they’re helping students with travel and academic arrangements for the remainder of the semester. 

Georgetown University - where there are no reported cases of the virus - is issuing a temporary moratorium on all university-related travel for students and staff to China. 

We also checked in with the University of Maryland. They’re flat out canceling or suspending Education Abroad programming in China for undergraduates for the spring of 2020.

And with these study abroad students now being brought back home, it’s raising some concern among students who worry if students will receive proper screening before returning to campus and some want the university to do more. 

“I’m definitely concerned about students returning without any kind of screening or prevention measures... they should actually do certain actions to make sure those that are coming back are safe and don’t have the virus,” said GW sophomore Jina Park.  

“We know we have to wear masks and wash our hands, we want the university to do some protections,” said GW Chinese international student Sylvia Wong. 

There are at least five confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the US, a number the CDC  predicts will continue to climb. The virus has sickened thousands in mainland China and killed more than 100 people.  

The universities have sent out messaging to their students to educate them on ways to stay vigilant. Officials at Georgetown and other local universities say they won’t be conducting any additional screenings on students returning home, but will be following CDC guidelines; and checking in with abroad students  frequently to make sure they’re not experiencing any symptoms. 

An AU spokesperson says: “We are encouraging all members of the AU community to continue to follow good health and hygiene practices to minimize the spread of any respiratory virus, and are encouraging any student, faculty and staff who are ill- no matter what the cause- to stay home. We will continue to update the university community as we work to protect the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff.”