Several colleges closing study abroad programs in Italy amid virus concerns

A general campus view of Syracuse University. (Photo by Jerome Davis/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Syracuse UniversityFairfield University, Sacred Heart University and Elon University said they are canceling study abroad programs in Italy because of the spread of the new coronavirus.

Syracuse University said it would assist its 342 students studying at its Florence campus return to the U.S., school officials announced Tuesday. Most students will return to the university's campus in upstate New York but they will not be allowed back until after spring break in March.

School officials decided to close the campus after a confirmed case was reported in Florence this week, prompting the closure of the University of Florence and restrictions on public gatherings. Italy's death toll rose to 12 on Wednesday and the caseload reached 374.

“We believe this is absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of our students being unable to leave Italy due to Italian confinement efforts,” said Steven Bennett, the university's senior vice president for international programs and academic operations.

School officials said in a statement they intend to do everything they can to minimize disruption to students' academic and personal lives.

Many universities in the U.S., Australia and Europe already have canceled study abroad programs in China, where the outbreak began. Italy is the second most popular destination for American students studying abroad, behind only the United Kingdom.


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