Visiting Chinese student teachers in Minnetonka returning early over coronavirus travel concerns

Travel concerns surrounding the new coronavirus outbreak in China caused visiting Chinese student teachers to cut their stay short in Minnesota, according to a message Minnetonka Public Schools sent to parents.

For the past few years, Scenic Heights Elementary School in Minnetonka has hosted university student teachers from Shaoxing University to assist with Scenic Heights' Chinese immersion classrooms. The university is located in the Zhejiang province and not the Wuhan province, where the outbreak started. The students arrived in Minnesota on Jan. 16 and were set start at Scenic Heights on Tuesday.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin County Epidemiology determined it was safe for the student teachers to be at Scenic Heights. However, the student teachers decided to go home early due to increasing travel restrictions. For example, Delta announced it will suspend all U.S. flights to China starting Feb. 6 through April 30.

"I am sure it was a difficult decision, as they were very pleased to be here in our community, but considering airlines are limiting or in some cases suspending flights to China, I know the student teachers were concerned they might not otherwise be able to get back within the timeframe they had originally planned on," read the message.

Chinese health authorites have reported more than 300 deaths and 17,000 confirmed cases.