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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

March 29, 2020   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Coronavirus outbreaks affect students studying abroad

Due to outbreaks of the new coronavirus, Ithaca College students who are studying abroad or spending spring break in countries that have Level 3 travel health notices will not be allowed on campus for two weeks after returning. 

There are outbreaks of the 2019 new coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in New York, California, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Washington in the United States. There have been outbreaks in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Britain, Iran, China, South Korea and Japan. The college offers study abroad opportunities in New York, California, Italy, France, Germany, South Korea and Japan. The college is not currently requiring students to return, but it is requiring students to self-quarantine before returning to campus. 

The countries that currently have CDC Warning Level 3 travel health notices, which recommends that travelers avoid all non-essential travel to those countries, are Italy, Iran, South Korea and China.

The college defines a self-quarantine as staying at home without going to work or classes. The college also recommends that those who have traveled to those countries not come onto the college campus, to work or study from home, avoid non-essential travel outside of the home, to not share cups or utensils, avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing others, stay more than six feet from people, have their temperature taken twice a day and to call for medical assistance if they have symptoms like a temperature reading of 100.4 F or higher, a cough, difficulty breathing and any flu-like symptoms.  

According to the CDC, flu-like symptoms are a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, fatigue and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.

Dave Maley, director of public relations, said the college will take the necessary steps to conduct classes remotely if the need arises. 

“Should there be any necessity to alter the status of our programs in London, NYC, or LA or on the main campus based on the guidance of these government organizations, we will make plans accordingly in order to deliver remote work and instructional opportunities to the extent possible,” Maley said via email.

Both the state of California  and Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency over COVID-19 on March 4. The Ithaca College Los Angeles (ICLA) satellite campus is located in Los Angeles County.  

Stephen Tropiano, director and professor in the JB Pendleton Center in Los Angeles, said the ICLA program is monitoring all of the information it is receiving from Los Angeles County and the CDC.  

“So, we’re taking all the necessary precautions, telling students to wash their hands,” he said.  “All of our students are interning, so all of their workplaces are dealing with it differently. I have not heard of anyone not going to their internship because of it.”     

Tropiano said ICLA is not considering sending students back to the college or their permanent homes at this time.

 Students studying at the London Center are not allowed to travel to any country that has a Level 3 warning for the rest of the semester. Students who have traveled to a country that does have a Level 3 warning are required to stay in their housing in London for two weeks before returning to the London Center or return to their permanent home to finish the coursework remotely, stated a message to the campus community that was made public March 3. 

Students who want to leave the London Center and continue the semester at their permanent home to finish their coursework remotely are allowed to do so, the message stated. 

The study abroad programs in Italy and South Korea are not run directly through the college but through affiliated study abroad programs instead. This means that the college cannot make decisions about the programs’ curriculum, but that the college is in communication with its partners. It is the affiliated programs’ decision whether or not to suspend classes.

The Italian government closed all schools and universities until March 15. One study abroad program that students are studying in Italy through, CEA Study Abroad, canceled all in-person classes that will be conducted online for the rest of the semester, junior Carly Swanson, who is currently studying in Florence, Italy, said.

Approximately 3,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Italy. 

Swanson said that she and her friends are not worried about contracting the virus, but that she is afraid of being unable to return home. 

“It’s less an issue of the virus itself and more so getting trapped in Italy or stuck in another country if we travel or having trouble getting home,” Swanson said. 

Swanson said that she and her friends are nervous about traveling outside of Italy because she thinks there is a risk that they might not be able to get back into the country once they leave.  

“I had plans to go to Paris last weekend, but we were a bit nervous about the rate that things escalated last week and decided not to go,” she said. “Spring break starts this Friday, and we’re going to take precautions while traveling by packing up the rest of our stuff in our apartments just in case we can’t get back into Italy, which is an absolute worst case scenario. But who knows what could happen in a week and a half. Everything is spreading so quickly. We would rather be prepared.”

Junior Laura O’Brien, who is also studying in Florence said most of the students in her program have returned to the U.S. because their college required them to or because they chose to. She said she intends to stay in Italy.

“I plan to remain in Florence for the rest of the semester, but given the uncertainty, if things take a turn for the worse, like if we reach a Level 4, I may have to go home earlier,” she said. “That being said, I’m making sure to take full advantage of every day I have here and take general precautions of washing my hands a lot, staying healthy in general.”  

Swanson said that she also plans on staying in Italy as long as she can, but that she would consider leaving if it becomes difficult for her to return to the U.S

“Essentially, I would have to be physically dragged out of the country to get me home,” she said. 

In an announcement to the college community Feb. 27, La Jerne Cornish, provost and senior vice president of Academic Affairs, and Rosanna Ferro, vice president for Student Affairs and Campus Life, said there are no current reports of anyone on campus who has COVID-19

“College officials have been closely monitoring the situation in each country where coronavirus disease has been reported and where there are currently IC students studying abroad,” the statement said. “Their health and well-being is our highest priority, and the college has been in continual contact with them and with their families.”

Laura O’Brien was previously an assistant news editor for The Ithacan and Carly Swanson was previously design editor for The Ithacan.

Alexis Manore can be reached at amanore@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @AlexisManore