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Local colleges and universities prepare for possible Coronavirus outbreak

DULUTH, MN-- Colleges and universities across our region are trying to get ahead of a potential Coronavirus outbreak within campus communities.

The imminent threat of the Coronavirus possibly sweeping through Minnesota has the University of Minnesota-Duluth officials on the defensive.

"The University of Minnesota system has closed all of its study abroad programs in China and South Korea," said Karl Markgraf, Chief International Officer & Director of International Programs & Services for UMD.

The Duluth campus hosts about 300-international students from at least 50 countries. Most of them from China, India, and South Korea.

Markgraf said, "Our students, of course, are concerned about the safety and welfare of their families back home."

Not knowing what the future holds, UMD officials are thinking ahead to summer and wonder if the students will be able to go home overseas.

"Starting to think about how can we provide services for those students to make sure they are able to be taken care of, they've got accommodations, and they aren't just hanging in limbo," said Jeremy Youde, Dean of UMD's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Campus leaders staying up-to-date with procedures and protocols with the Department of health and education.

They hope students traveling during the upcoming spring break, will take health precautions and research possible restrictions where they go.

Youde said, "We don't want to be in a situation where we've got almost 10,000 students who are on the UMD campus. We don't want to have to suddenly in 24-hours figure out 'oh my goodness, what do we do about this?' We want to be ready in advance."

More higher education institutions in the region are pepping for a potential outbreak.

The College of St. Scholastica officials said they have held a number of meetings on preparedness and are being watchful for the latest information nationally. Officials said they have "a modest number of students overseas-- none in China or Korea.

Dan Fanning with Lake Superior College said,

"Yes, we certainly have had conversations internally, with our Minnesota State system leaders and with other Twin Ports higher education institutions (LSC, UMD, UWS, and CSS). We are monitoring the situation carefully, and providing updated information to our students and employees - right now basic tips like hand washing and travel advisory info. At this time nothing is directly impacted at LSC, however, school and system officials will continue to monitor the situation closely and communicate/adjust as it makes sense."

In Wisconsin, The University of Wisconsin- Superior has an emergency response plan that covers pandemics. The plan is organized by emergency response levels and the actions taken at each level by divisions and departments on campus. UW-Superior is also in regular communication with other UW campuses to monitor the spread of the virus and discuss responses and approaches.

All campuses are urging healthy habits to students such as frequently washing your hands and staying home if you're feeling sick.

Jessie Slater

Evening Anchor and Reporter

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