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April 30, 2009
Contact: Jill Jess, University Relations, (785) 864-8858.

KU cancels planned study abroad program near Mexico City

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas officials have canceled a popular study abroad program in Mexico after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel warning related to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

The KU Summer Language Institute was to be held in Puebla, Mexico, about 70 miles from Mexico City. It was set to begin May 15.

“The Office of Study Abroad always places the well-being of our students as our highest priority,” said Sue Lorenz, director of the Office of Study Abroad. “In the past several days we have seen that the public health outlook in Mexico, as well as the rest of the world, can change rapidly. After careful deliberation, we have decided that the safest course of action is to cancel the Puebla program for this summer.”

On April 29, the World Health Organization increased the flu alert to Level 5, the second-highest level, which is an indication that there has been human-to-human spread of virus in at least two countries in one region.

Sixteen students were enrolled in the language institute, which offers students the opportunity to obtain university credit in Spanish courses, improve language skills and experience Mexican culture firsthand by living with families in Puebla.

Study abroad officials are working with interested students to find other programs that would fulfill academic and personal goals.

Also today, KU announced it had partially activated its Emergency Operations Center, in accordance with preplanned response protocol. In a meeting this morning with Provost Richard Lariviere and staff from several other offices on Campus, Emergency Operations Manager and Senior Vice Provost Don Steeples announced that update meetings with relevant administrative staff would be held daily.

At this time, all activities on the Lawrence campus are operating normally, although everyone is advised to be extra careful about personal sanitation, including frequent hand washing. The university’s response to the outbreak of the so-called swine flu will be based on recommendations from federal and state public health authorities.

The university’s pandemic flu response plan is available at www.pandemic.ku.edu. Updates regarding swine flu and current KU actions will be posted at www.alert.ku.edu.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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