UNDATED -- High school foreign exchange students are being asked to go home with COVID-19 expected to last for several more weeks or months.

Laura Olson is with the EF High School Exchange Program. She says their program works with the Department of State, which is recommending citizens return to their home countries.

For a variety of reasons.  Of course, the uncertainty, not know how long this is going to go on, access to healthcare is another concern, and access to travel and flights in the future as well.

Their program alone has about 3,000 students across the United States with about 150 here in Minnesota. Olson says they come from 14 countries mostly in Asia and Europe.

That does include places like Italy and Spain where their numbers are higher, and of course, it's a really tough decision sending some of those students home to areas where the coronavirus numbers are much higher than in Minnesota.

She says the travel rules have been constantly changing.

Some countries now require a letter from a physician saying students are fit to fly, and that's difficult because medical facilities don't want to see healthy people right now, so it's hard to obtain those. We've had countries that have said students can't fly or be on a plane unless they have a mask, well good luck trying to get a mask.

Meanwhile, Olson says many host families are using the limited time they have left with their students to move up events like birthday celebrations before they leave.

Typically high school exchange students go home a week or two after the school year ends, which is about two to three months away.

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