In light of the spread of coronavirus in China, officials at Brenau University in Gainesville have postponed planned faculty and student travel to the country as part of an ongoing teacher education exchange program.
The agreement with Anhui Normal University (ANU) in Wuhu in the Southeastern part of China was signed in 2014, and the program allows students from ANU to obtain undergraduate degrees on the Gainesville campus. In return, students and faculty from Brenau travel to China.
While no Brenau students or faculty are in China right now, there were plans for travel this semester.
"We have decided to delay some of the trips that our students might be taking and our faculty might be taking to China - maybe for a month or so - until we know more about the nature of the virus and how it will be contained," said Jim Eck, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for Brenau.
Eck said even if travel can't resume this semester, university officials are hopeful Brenau students and faculty can go to China by the summer.
Right now, some 80 Chinese students from ANU are studying at Brenau, and Eck said the majority of them went home for winter break and returned to Gainesville a few weeks ago.
"They are not expressing any kind of symptoms related to the virus," Eck said. "Our student health center has indicated they haven't had a single student stop by or express any concerns, so we feel confident that the students that have returned are in good health."
Eck said Brenau also wants the students from ANU to know that they have whatever emotional support they need, especially since many of them may be concerned about the health of their families who remain in China.
"We're concerned about them, we're concerned about their families," Eck said.
Eck said university officials will keep students and faculty as updated as possible on the situation.
Follow this link to see a message issued the campus from Brenau University President Anne Skleder.