The Center for Disease Control and Prevention upgraded Italy’s warning to Level 3, the highest possible, on Saturday, as the global epidemic of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to threaten study abroad programs.
While the university stayed neutral in students’ decisions to stay or leave Italy last week, they’ve since changed their message in response to the upgrade.
“The programs are making decisions on whether or not they’ll shut down, but our message is to recommend they return,” said vice president for student affairs Nathan Thomas.
If students decide to return to the United States, the university is advising they follow the CDC’s recommendation to self-quarantine for 14 days.
While some programs have been cancelled, others, particularly in Italy, are offering students the option to continue their courses online from home.
“Yeah, I’m so sad,” said sophomore management and leadership major Jenna Carnazzola. “I have to leave and I’ve only been here five weeks when I was supposed to be here four months.”
As of today, the university has not made any formal decisions regarding upcoming short-term study abroad programs this spring, one of which is planned for Italy.
“At some point, we will have to make decisions on those programs, which will happen mid-May-ish,” Thomas said.
So far, the study abroad office has contacted May-term students saying they’re watching the situation. Junior public relations major Emma Knaup is planning to study in Rome.
“I’m still hopeful that the trip will happen, but the severity of the situation in Italy has been rapidly evolving which leaves me very unsure,” Knaup said.
The university has also been working on communicating to concerned students on campus. On Friday, the university sent out an email to all students, faculty and staff addressing the outbreak to inform them about resources available.
“First and foremost, there are no cases of the virus in Central Illinois and no suspected cases of the virus on Bradley’s campus,” the email said. “We are not canceling or delaying any classes at this time.”
According to Thomas, the university is working to prepare communication with students regarding spring break and traveling.
“This is very much an evolving situation across the country and across the globe, so we’re paying close attention to CDC recommendations … It’s a little bit premature what that communication to students is going to be, but we’re paying attention,” Thomas said. “We know we owe our students that piece of communication as that time arises.”
For the university’s updated recommendations and information on the outbreak, visit https:// bradley.edu/conoravirus.