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Northwestern University Calls Off Dance Marathon Amid Coronavirus Fears

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) -- Northwestern University has canceled its annual Dance Marathon, which had been scheduled for this weekend, due to concerns about the coronavirus.

"The decision was not made lightly," the university said. "We understand how important Dance Marathon is to our community, to the registered dancers and to the event's 500 organizers, who have worked tirelessly to make Dance Marathon a success."

But given the "uncertainty" about COVID-19, the university said it was "important to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of our students, Evanston community members and the University as a whole."

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The decision to call off the event was made in consultation with the university's own COVID-19 policy group and health professionals, and based on national recommendations.

"Given the prolonged duration of Dance Marathon, the close proximity of dancers and the strain it puts on participants, health experts thought those in attendance could have been at greater risk for illness had the event continued as planned," the statement said.

The Northwestern University Dance Marathon dates back to 1975, and bills itself as one of the largest independent student-run philanthropies in the country. Participants dance for 30 hours straight in a tent outside the Norris University Center.

Last year, the Dance Marathon raised $1,144,515 for the education nonprofit Communities In Schools of Chicago. This year, the Dance Marathon said it will still ensure this year's beneficiaries – Children's Home Aid and the Evanston Community Foundation – will "reap the benefits of our community's hard work."

Meanwhile, Northwestern also announced Wednesday that it is canceling all university-sponsored spring break trips to international destinations involving students, also due to concerns about coronavirus.

Also, university-related travel to China, Iran, Italy, or South Korea is not allowed.

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