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Duke cancels Fall study away programs due to coronavirus concerns

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Duke has canceled all undergraduate study away programs for the Fall 2020 semester, citing health and safety concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was not an easy decision for us to make, but your safety is our foremost priority. We share your disappointment about this situation and wish to guide you through your next steps,” Amanda Kelso, assistant vice provost for undergraduate education and executive director of the Global Education Office, wrote in a Tuesday afternoon email to participants announcing the cancellations.

The email notes that Duke will offer Fall opportunities for Duke students at Duke Kunshan University and the Duke Marine Lab.

Kelso instructed students to prepare to continue coursework at Duke or their home institutions, and told Duke students to keep updated with communication from administration about the fall. Duke students who made deposits for Duke-run programs will have their funds credited to their bursar accounts, and GEO program managers will reach out to non-Duke students about refunds, according to the email.

Students participating in Duke-administered programs were given the option to request a deferral of their Duke-administered programs to the Spring 2021 semester, but the email notes that this option may not be not available for every program. 

In an email to The Chronicle, Kelso emphasized that the decision was difficult to make and that she hopes all programs will be offered in the spring and summer terms.

“With travel restrictions in place and health concerns worldwide, many provider programs and partner institutions are canceling programs or moving to online instruction for the fall semester,” Kelso wrote. “Airlines and consulates are not opening up as quickly as needed for students to obtain visas.”

She added that a semester abroad is “transformational” for students and a “highlight of their time at Duke,” adding to the disappointment of the decision.

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