12 universities bringing students home from Italy study abroad due to coronavirus

Schools are working on ways for students to continue their coursework at home.

February 26, 2020, 5:02 AM

Students from at least 12 U.S. universities are returning home from their study abroad programs in Italy, amid fears of the coronavirus spreading further in Europe.

Elon University, Fairfield University, Florida International University, Gonzaga University, Loyola University Chicago, Miami University-Ohio, Penn State University, Stanford University, Syracuse University, University of Maryland-College Park, University of Miami and Villanova University all wrote in statements that their students will leave Italy, or have already left Italy, for return to the U.S.

“Penn State has placed Italy on the restricted list for University-affiliated student travel and is in the process of bringing students home, in response to the evolving global outbreak of novel coronavirus,” Penn State University officials wrote in a statement on February 28.

Of these 12 schools, 10 have either canceled or suspended their study abroad programming in Italy.

PHOTO: An empty class room is pictured inside the Bicocca University in Milan, Italy, March 2, 2020.
An empty class room is pictured inside the Bicocca University in Milan, Italy, March 2, 2020. Italian authorities have closed schools and universities in Lombardy and northern regions in order to prevent the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus.
Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters

“This evening the CDC moved Italy from Alert Level 2 to Warning Level 3,” University of Maryland’s Senior Vice President and Provost Mary Ann Rankin wrote in a statement on February 28. “In light of this change the university is hereby suspending Education Abroad programs in Italy for spring 2020.”

Villanova University and Miami University send their students abroad through partner programs or providers, so canceling the programs is not within their purviews, their spokespeople told ABC News.

Several of these universities are working on ways to help students continue their semester coursework at home. Jonathan Gust, the Executive Director of Media Relations at Villanova University, told ABC News that the university is providing students with options for how to continue their studies this semester.

“For students that return from Italy, the university has made academic accommodations to complete a full program,” Gust said. “Some may choose to complete academic work through an online program, others may choose to return to campus. The students will make the decision best for them but will have the opportunity to complete a full academic program whether on campus or online.”

A woman reads a newspaper outside Duomo cathedral, closed by authorities due to a coronavirus outbreak, in Milan, Italy, Feb. 24, 2020.
Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters, FILE

Gust added that any student who chooses to return to campus must first satisfy a 14-day quarantine period.

New York University is also urging students studying abroad in Florence to return home -- but temporarily, they hope. The program was suspended until “at least March 29,” after which the university will decide whether or not to reopen operations in Florence. On Monday the program began holding classes remotely, according to a statement.

John Beckman, a spokesman for NYU, told ABC News that the school decided it would be better to take precautionary measures rather than risk students getting quarantined.

"We believed it was far better to temporarily suspend and have our students leave Florence than potentially be caught behind a quarantine, where our efforts to help them would be limited," Beckman said.

When asked when the university will decide whether to reopen after March 29, Beckman said he wasn't sure.

"We can't say precisely when we'll be able to make the determination, but we will be mindful of people's wish to have advanced notice," he added.

Beckman said NYU is continuing classes online so students won't fall behind.

Related Topics