ST. CLOUD -- The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has suspended all upcoming study abroad programs and international travel for students, faculty and staff – including those at St. Cloud State University – amid the growing threat of coronavirus.

SCSU announced the decision to students via email Tuesday.

"The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve and change. While at this time the risk of COVID-19 is low, St. Cloud State University is closely monitoring the developing situation and is taking the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of the St. Cloud State campus community.

Due to the uncertainty of the trajectory and spread of the COVID-19 virus across the globe, Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra has made the decision to suspend all Minnesota State-related international travel effective immediately. This includes March education abroad programs, and any other international travel involving faculty, staff and students. Impacted faculty, staff and students have been informed of the cancellation of travel and we are working with these individuals to find solutions to the problems this action may create."

The suspension affects two study abroad trips scheduled for SCSU's spring break — one to the United Kingdom and another to South Africa, according to Shahzad Ahmad, SCSU's Associate Vice President of the Center for International Studies.

It's not known how long the suspension will be in place, but study abroad programs will be reopened on a case-by-case basis following appropriate recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health, said Ahmad.

"It is of the highest priority that students are able to complete their academic requirements," Ahmad said. "They will be able to participate in similar programs in the future."

The St. Cloud State Center for International Studies says they are continuing to monitor and be in touch with all students currently abroad. SCSU students studying in countries categorized as low risk have not been asked to return home.

The global outbreak of the coronavirus has affected an estimated 90,000 people worldwide, according to the CDC. As of Tuesday morning, more than 100 cases have been identified in 15 states. There are no known cases in Minnesota.

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