Coronavirus concerns cancel study abroad programs

In the U.S., a handful of California college students have been quarantined
By: | February 28, 2020
Sacred Heart University Professor Sofia Pendley (standing) is leading students in generating weekly coronavirus reports for local health officials. (Photo: Tracy Deer-Mirek)Sacred Heart University Professor Sofia Pendley (standing) is leading students in generating weekly coronavirus reports for local health officials. (Photo: Tracy Deer-Mirek)

The threat of coronavirus has caused a number of U.S. colleges and universities to suspend study abroad programs in China, Italy and elsewhere, CNN reported.

Connecticut’s Fairfield University, for instance, has closed its Florence University of the Arts study abroad session, and will allow the program’s 142 students to finish the year on its main campus and online. Florida International University has canceled programs in Italy, Singapore, Japan and South Korea, according to CNN.

And the University of Tennessee has suspended spring and summer Center for Global Engagement programs in China and South Korea, CNN reported.

Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, told two dozen students studying in Italy to return home, NBC10 Boston reported


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Stonehill College in Massachusetts not only requested its two dozen study abroad students to leave Italy, but recommended they self-quarantine when they get back, according to NBC10 Boston.

Officials at Providence College and the University of Rhode Island haven’t called students home from Florence, Rome or Milan, but have been in constant contact with program hosts, Providence’s NBC affiliate reported.

“The pharmacies have run out of medical masks and hand sanitizer, everyone has been running out to stores trying to stock up on groceries,” URI student Kate Finneran told the station via FaceTime. “I’m washing my hands and I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible and I’m really hoping I don’t have to go home.”

Students in Connecticut’s 17-school state college and university system have been ordered to return from China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, and Japan, and all future travel to those countries has been canceled, NBC Connecticut reported.

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In the U.S., students at a handful of California colleges and universities have gone under self-quarantine after potential coronavirus exposure, the Los Angeles Times reported.


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Three University of California, Davis students are being quarantined for 14-days after they were exposed though only one has so far shown mild symptoms, according to the Times. 

Also in the Sacramento area, a student at American River College and another at Cosumnes River College—both of whom are medical professionals— are in isolation after they were exposed to a person who tested positive for coronavirus, though officials say the campus communities are not at risk, the Times reported.

Colleges and universities across the country are updating response plans. In Alabama, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Auburn University, Troy University, and Jacksonville State University are canceling school-sponsored international travel and creating websites to provide their campuses with coronavirus information, WSFA -TV reported.

School officials are also using the situation as an opportunity to keep communities informed. Students in a class on community health in times of crisis at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut are collecting information on coronavirus and providing weekly updates to the nearby city of Bridgeport’s Emergency & Homeland Security Department, the school said in a news release.

Students are compiling reports from reputable sources such as the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and others, Pendley says. The reports includes information on the outbreak’s origin, the number of confirmed cases, symptoms, recovery time and the death toll. Students also delve into how the disease is transmitted and how it is diagnosed.

“We also look at the risk of it spreading internationally and the people who are at high, medium and low risk of contracting it,” said Pendley.

And while there have been no cases reported at El Paso Community College in Texas, but officials there sent an official statement reminding the campus community of preventative steps, such as washing hands for 20 seconds; not touching eyes, noses or mouths; staying home during fevers; and washing frequently-touched surfaces, the El Paso Herald-Post reported.


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