SU closes academic program at Florence, Italy campus due to coronavirus

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse University officials have announced that their academic program in Florence, Italy will be canceled due to coronavirus fears.

In a release, officials said that a case of the coronavirus was reported in Florence on Tuesday morning. This caused restrictions on gatherings, the closing of the University of Florence and evacuations of study abroad programs.

SU said they would help students return to the United States. There are 342 students in their study abroad program in Florence right now.

“We believe this is absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of our students being unable to leave Italy due to Italian containment efforts,” stated a press release from SU.

They said that many of the students will decide to return to the main campus, but will not do so until after Spring Break.

University officials also said that the university is continuing to work with their students from China as the coronavirus spreads.

“Our Chinese students continue to worry about their family, friends and loved ones from afar,” stated the press release. “The Center for International Services continues to offer care and support to these students.”

Read below for the full statement from SU:

“Dear Members of the Syracuse University Community:

Syracuse University continues to track the global threat of the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, and remains in close contact with local, regional and national public health experts. We have communicated frequently to students, faculty and staff regarding prevention measures for this and any communicable virus, believing that education is a powerful tool to protecting oneself from getting sick.

One place experiencing a spike in confirmed cases is Italy, where there are 283 confirmed cases. Italy has taken a very aggressive stance toward virus containment, locking down whole municipalities to protect the population. This morning, a confirmed case was reported in Florence—home to the Syracuse Abroad Florence center—which has prompted restrictions on gatherings, the closure of the University of Florence and a general evacuation of study abroad programs in that city.

With this in mind, we have made the decision to close the academic program at our Florence campus and assist our students with returning to the United States. Concerns for the safety, well-being and free movement of the 342 students in our study abroad program in Florence, Italy, have guided this difficult decision, which was also informed by global health experts. We believe this is absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of our students being unable to leave Italy due to Italian containment efforts. We are working directly with our students to arrange their return to the United States. We will do everything we can to minimize disruption to their academic studies and their lives. Many will choose to return to main campus. However, they will not return until after spring break.

Additionally, we are continuing to work with many in our community, particularly our students from China, who have been deeply impacted by the spread of coronavirus. With spring break quickly approaching, we appreciate and recognize that many of our students will be unable to travel home as they had previously planned. It will also, potentially, have implications on our Chinese students’ ability to return home this summer. We are working with our schools and colleges, and with others to help accommodate the evolving needs of this important part of our campus community. Our Chinese students continue to worry about their family, friends and loved ones from afar. The Center for International Services continues to offer care and support to these students. Our Florence students will return to campus disappointed and disoriented. We ask that you continue to offer grace and support for all of these individuals who are experiencing a uniquely challenging situation that is affecting their overall well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the center for additional support.

Finally, as a reminder, we continue to encourage our community to take precautions and exercise good health practices. To learn more about preventive health practices, please visit the Barnes Center at The Arch website. We will continue to provide updates to our campus community about information, protocols and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York State Department of Health.

Sincerely,

Steven Bennett
Senior Vice President for International Programs and Academic Operations

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