UPDATE: All WKU students studying abroad to return home amid coronavirus concerns

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All 103 WKU students abroad are now required to return home amid growing coronavirus concerns.

Students were informed in an email the travel recommendations have reached a point where the WKU policy required their return as quickly as possible.

In the email, Caryn Lindsay, the director of Study Abroad and Global Learning, said the office was concerned with travel restrictions individual countries were implementing which could make it difficult for the students to return home in the future. 


President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night the implementation of a 30-day travel suspension between Europe and the United States. In an email, John Sunnygard, associate provost for Global Learning and International Affairs, said immediately following the announcement, WKU students were contacted and informed they needed to return to the U.S. 

On Thursday, Sunnygard said WKU received clarification on the Europe travel suspension and the Global Level 3 travel advisory was announced. This meant all WKU students abroad were required to return due to university policy. 

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Sunnygard listed safety, flexibility, student success and learning and completion as the guiding priorities in this situation. 

“Students who study abroad grow in many ways, including openness to new things and flexibility,” Sunnygard said in the email. “We are all disappointed that our students’ experiences abroad have been cut short.  The crisis is, however, an extraordinary learning experience that no one might have anticipated.”

For students abroad concerned about falling behind, Sunnygard said WKU has been working with study abroad partners to make sure students will graduate on time.   

The email sent to students abroad asked them to call the Barren River District Health Department as soon as they returned home. Students were also encouraged to monitor their health for two weeks for a fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Within that time period, students are asked to self quarantine.

Many host institutions are taking steps for students to complete their coursework online, the email stated. 

“We are committed to doing everything we can to help you be able to complete your semester coursework,” Lindsay said in the email.

Earlier this month, students studying abroad in Italy were asked to return home because of the disease. In February, WKU students completing internships in China through the Chinese Flagship Program returned to the U.S., and WKU halted all travel to the country.

Managing Editor Laurel Deppen can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @laurel_deppen.

Editor-in-Chief Rebekah Alvey can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @bekah_alvey.