Pepperdine University announced Tuesday it would be suspending its Shanghai International Program due to growing concerns over the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) that has been rapidly spreading in China since it was first detected in December 2019.

“At this time, the university is aiding Shanghai program participants in returning to their homes,” a statement published by the university in the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 28, stated. “Students enrolled in the Shanghai program will complete their academic term at the University’s Malibu campus beginning Feb. 17, 2020.”

As of the statement’s publishing, about 4,700 confirmed cases of the virus had been reported, causing more than 100 deaths.

The announcement came on the same day as a U.S. State Department mission to evacuate diplomats from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak, took place.

Students were originally scheduled to return to the Shanghai campus for spring semester on Feb. 3, 2020, but are instead asked to “return home to their families at their permanent residences as soon as possible.” Information from the university suggests students are asked to return home to avoid the possibility of infecting the student body in the unlikely event any Pepperdine Shanghai students have been in contact with the coronavirus.

“The university does not believe that any student abroad has come in contact with the virus. However, out of an abundance of caution, the university is taking steps to minimize risk of exposure on the Malibu campus,” the Pepperdine statement read. “First, students who participated in the Shanghai program will return to their primary residences before returning to the Malibu campus on Feb. 16. If a student was infected with the virus, symptoms will likely develop during this time, and students will have the ability to be diagnosed and treated accordingly. Second, each student will be screened by a medical professional before returning to campus to begin classes.”

Travel arrangements were being handled at no cost to the students affected, including flights from permanent residences back to campus later in February.

As of Jan. 28, the university stated it was intending to resume Shanghai programs beginning in summer 2020; however, those plans could change according to how the virus progresses.

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