Connecticut Universities Take Precautions to Protect Students from Coronavirus

Many abroad program impacted by fear of virus exposure.

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Connecticut’s universities are taking precautionary action to protect students against Coronavirus exposure.

In an e-mail to all students, the University of New Haven said it is recommending that students, faculty, and staff currently at the university’s Tuscany campus in Prato, Italy, return to the United States.

Italy has now reported at least 222 cases of coronavirus and six deaths from the illness. It is the largest number of Coronavirus cases outside of Asia.

“I would much rather have that and have them home safe, rather than it being too late and then they come home and then having it become a big concern,” said University of New Haven student, Melanie Jimenez, who is concerned for her fellow students abroad.

University of New Haven officials said that of the 80 students in Italy, 60 are returning while 20 students and one staff member will remain in Prato.

“(The students staying in Italy) will all be staying in one residence hall with staff supervision,” said university spokesperson, Doug Whiting. “They’ll participate in online learning. There won’t be classes held.”

Students who do return to the United States will be required to stay in homes until the conclusion of spring break on March 22. UNH said it hopes to give students the option to return to Tuscany or they will complete the spring semester in West Haven.

International programs at other schools have also been affected. Sacred Heart University said it is bringing 17 students home from its partnership with John Cabot University in Rome. It has also cancelled a spring break trip to Rome for the band.

The University of Bridgeport said it is not currently affected but has a summer program in South Korea that could be impacted if the situation there worsens.

UConn and Quinnipiac have said they are monitoring the situation while Fairfield University announced it is closing its program in Florence and is bringing 142 students, who were studying there, home.

"We looked at a number of factors,” said Fairfield University vice president of marketing and communications, Jennifer Anderson. “Obviously not taking this decision lightly. We know that study abroad is a hugely enriching learning experience from our students perspective and important in their formation." 

What began as an international concern is now very real here at home and not just schools. The City of New Haven is having a workshop today, where city safety officials will meet to discuss an action plan should an emergency arise.

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