Fairfield University is canceling its study abroad program in Italy and requiring currently enrolled students to return amid the spread of coronavirus to the European country.
University officials said they currently have 142 students enrolled in the program, which is a partnership with Florence University of Art in Florence.
Towns in northern Italy have been quarantined after at least 229 people have tested positive for the virus and seven deaths have been reported.
"When we looked at the health and safety risks....you know the Italian government is looking at school closures, K through higher ed institutions, the risk of quarantines of our students, the risk of travel bans or limitations. And one of the really big factors that went into it was the potential loss of academic credits," said Jennifer Anderson, Fairfield University's vice president of marketing and communications.
The University of New haven is also recommending its students studying abroad in Tuscany to return to the United States and is offering them assistance. Students are not being required to return and may continue their studies if they wish.
"Our main concern is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our campus community. We also want to ensure a smooth transition back to the United States for students who wish to return from Prato and limit the disruption this has on our students’ current academic pursuits," a statement from the university president reads.
The majority of those known to be infected with COVID-19 hail from two main clusters — some 10 towns in Lombardy and another area in the neighboring region of Veneto. Italy has the highest number of cases outside Asia, underscoring the limits of Italy's prevention protocols, the most stringent in Europe.
The University of Connecticut previously canceled its spring semester’s study abroad program in Hong Kong amid virus concerns in China.
UConn currently has 88 students studying abroad in Italy. They said they are in touch with those students on a daily basis, but have not opted to bring them home at this time.
Local high schools are also assessing the dangers of the growing virus. Bristol Central students returning from a trip from Italy were encouraged to stay home from school while health officials determined the best course of action. Those on the trip were later told to stay home only if they were feeling ill or experiencing symptoms.
Southington’s superintendent confirmed Tuesday that they have several student trips scheduled for April that include European destinations, and they are monitoring the developments.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday that the public should prepare for the effects of a possible pandemic outbreak in the U.S. of the coronavirus.
So far, more than 80,000 have been infected and 2,700 killed by the virus around the world.