Fordham Recalls Study Abroad Students from Northern Italy as Coronavirus Spreads

Fordham University is recalling all study abroad students from Northern Italy following reports of the novel coronavirus. The university will allow the students to return to campus after spring break, March 22, if they remain symptom-free. 

Syracuse University and New York University took similar actions earlier this week, canceling their programs in Florence, Italy.

According to Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, four students were enrolled in a school in Milan and two in Florence. For students who were in Milan, he said each case is being considered individually in acknowledgment of students’ different needs. Students in Florence will complete their coursework online. 

Howe said these will not be the last programs to be cancelled as a result of the virus. 

This is a rapidly evolving issue and there will be more study abroad students recalled,” he said. “There will be more, certainly.”

Joseph Rienti, Ph.D., director of international and study abroad programs, advised students to reconsider any travel away from their host study abroad city until further notice.

He also said the university would work with any student who wanted to return to New York and complete their coursework online.

Many study abroad programs have begun to make coursework available online to accommodate students, so please consult with the on-site staff of your program, he wrote in an email. “Fordham London Centre and Fordham in Granada courses will be made available online shortly.

On Monday, March 2, Dennis Jacobs, provost of the university, sent an email to all Fordham instructors to request that they develop a course-continuity plan for the Spring semester that would allow them to continue instructing students if they were unable to meet in class.

Although we have no indication that such a disruption is imminent, conditions could change abruptly, and we need to be prepared to help our students successfully complete the Spring semester under any scenario, he wrote.

There are no confirmed or suspected cases of the virus at Fordham University as of March 2, according to an email from Public Safety. 489 students are attending study abroad programs this semester.

Public Safety said students who travel to areas affected by the coronavirus may be kept out of class for two weeks following their return to prevent transmission to other students, faculty, and staff. They said the Office of the Provost will work on academic plans for students who are held out of class during the two-week incubation period. 

Some spring break trips arranged through the university will also be cancelled to prevent exposure to the virus. Howe said he is unsure which programs will be cancelled, but its participants will be the first to know.

In late January, the Beijing Center and the Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) made the decision to suspend programming for the semester, following the U.S. State Department Travel Alert Level increase to 4. Howe said the university supported this decision.  Study abroad guidelines regulate that students should not be traveling to countries with a Travel Advisory Level of 3 or higher.

According to Howe, Fordham had seven students affected by the cancellations in January: five returned to study in New York and two others attended different study abroad opportunities outside of China. He said of the seven students, three were actually in China, the other four were in other locations abroad when the change was announced.

“Fordham’s Study Abroad Office was in frequent contact with all seven students in China, or headed there, and their host study abroad programs, as soon as the University became aware of the extent of the Coronavirus outbreak,” he said. “How to manage the safety and placement of Fordham’s study abroad students was obviously a rapidly evolving issue. The University took pains to ensure appropriate placements–in New York or abroad–for all of the affected students.”

Howe said that in an effort of caution, Fordham will not accept study abroad applications in China for Summer 2020 or Fall 2020. He said the university has also suspended programs to Korea and closed applications for Summer and Fall. 

“This situation is rapidly evolving so we are monitoring programs worldwide,” he said. “[We] remain in frequent contact with our partners abroad, students, parents, the CDC (through UHS), the US State Department Overseas Advisory Council, and colleagues in the field. Fordham-run programs in London and Granada have contingency plans in place.”

Matthew Holland, assistant head of centre and director of student affairs at the Fordham University London Centre, sent an email to students attending its abroad program. He advised students avoid traveling to Milan, Venice and other regions of Northern Italy until further notice.

Richard Salami, head of Fordham’s London Centre, informed students studying there that the Gabelli School of Business trip to Rome, scheduled March 26 – 29, has been cancelled. He said the university is working to see if an alternative location can be secured. 

However, Holland said there are currently no changes to the program in London and the centre will continue to operate as usual. 

Students enrolled in Fordham’s Grenada program received a similar email. 

“Fordham in Granada staff is monitoring the coronavirus situation throughout Spain and Europe on a daily basis,” it reads. “There is currently no change to the situation in Granada, and at this time Spain continues to be considered ‘low risk’. The Fordham in Granada program will continue to operate as usual at this time.

Any student experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, which may be similar to the flu or common cold, should call University Health Services immediately at (718) 817-4160.