As of today (1/28) the death toll stands at 106 people, all in China. Over 4,600 cases have been reported worldwide. Transportation between and within cities in China remains severely restricted. Crowd-attracting areas such as cultural sites are closed and the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan is being evacuated. Universities across China are delaying the beginning of the spring semester by one to two weeks (for now). The CDC and State Department recently raised their risk advice to Level 3 (“avoid nonessential travel” and “reconsider travel”). Several colleges and universities and study abroad providers have suspended their programs and/or banned all travel to China. The list will likely expand rapidly within the next couple of days.
Considering all this, as well as other factors, we have decided to suspend the School in China (all three sites) this spring. This is not a decision we take lightly but there is too much at stake to risk any other course of action. Not only are we taking into consideration the potential health risks, we must also consider the consequences for the academic progress of our students. If we move to cancel the programs sooner rather than later, we will be able provide alternatives that will allow them to get full credit for the spring semester. If we wait more than a day or two to make this decision, those options quickly begin to disappear as classes in Middlebury and their home institutions get underway.
This will, however, create a series of complex logistical challenges for us. Chief among them will be what to do with the 37 students currently enrolled in our programs in China, 18 of whom come from 14 different U.S. institutions. Certainly, we plan to allow all Middlebury students to reenroll immediately for the spring. Non-Middlebury students from institutions that started class earlier in January will also be offered the opportunity to come to Middlebury for the spring semester. We expect to have seven or eight of them. Non-Middlebury students from institutions that have not yet begun classes or began very recently will be encouraged to seek readmission to their home institutions.