Kean University has cancelled plans for 23 students from the United States to spend this semester at its China campus, amid a deadly and spreading coronavirus outbreak in the world’s most populous nation.
The students will instead study at Kean University’s New Jersey campus this semester and be offered an opportunity to attend classes this fall at Wenzhou-Kean University (WKU) in China, Kean officials said.
Faculty from the New Jersey/New York area at WKU, however, apparently are not being given the opportunity to skip this semester in China, which will now have a delayed start on Feb. 24. There are upward of 120 faculty members from the U.S. and other countries in China.
“WKU faculty come from all over the world,’’ said Margaret McCorry, the university’s director of media relations. “The faculty and students are scheduled to be back on campus in time for the semester to begin on Feb. 24.”
New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) officials are monitoring the situation.
“Kean University has been in touch with the Secretary of Higher Education regarding precautions being taken and will continue to provide updates,’’ said Nicole Kirgan, a DOH spokeswoman, hours before Kean officials issued their message.
Wenzhou-Kean University Task Force
Kirgan added, “This includes protocols to disinfect the campus, a campus hotline to answer questions and the formation of a Wenzhou-Kean University Task Force.’’
In an email sent to the university community yesterday, Kean officials stressed: “There are no suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus at any Kean campuses, here in the United States or in Wenzhou, China.’’
Kean bills itself as the only public university in the U.S. with a campus in China.
The decision comes amid an outbreak centered in Wuhan, which has killed more than 100 and infected thousands in China. The Wenzhou campus, which postponed its semester start from Feb. 8 to Feb. 24 due to the outbreak, is about 700 miles from Wuhan.
U.S. health officials are recommending Americans curtail nonessential travel to China. Some coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the U.S., but there have been no reports of fatalities.
“Students from WKU studying at Kean USA for the spring semester arrived last weekend,’’ the email message continued. “Our Student Health Services has been working with those students to address any health concerns, and none is suspected of suffering from the coronavirus.’’
The statement added: “It is important to note that some individuals may choose to wear a mask for their own protection during cold and flu season. It should not be a cause for alarm.”
Students seeking more information are advised to call Student Health Services at (908) 737-4880. Faculty and staff should call Human Resources at (908) 737-3300.