San Diego State suspends study abroad programs in Italy

by Jadyn Brandt, Staff Writer

Last month, San Diego State decided to suspend all study abroad programs in China and South Korea due to the coronavirus outbreak. Now, students studying abroad in Italy are also having their programs cut short due to the rapid spread of the virus.

SDSU has now suspended all Spring 2020 study abroad programs in Italy due to a level three warning issued by the Centers for Disease Control last week, according to the university.

A level three warning is issued when there is a widespread transmission of an illness within a community, according to the CDC website. It is recommended that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy.

An email was sent out by Academic Programs International Associate VP of Student Health, Safety and Success Carolyn Lutes to SDSU students currently studying in Italy saying the program would be suspended and that they would need to leave the country by March 6.

The email said API will consider reopening Italian programs if the CDC’s warning level is downgraded. 

“Specific academic concerns will be addressed next week,” the email said. “Financial considerations will be evaluated in the coming weeks, once we are able to determine if the program will resume and what API’s non-recoverable costs are.”

A March 2 blog post on the API website provided a safety update to students in all 23 countries included in the API program. The post laid out its current guidelines for canceling a study abroad program and alerted students of the CDC’s most recent public statement

Associate Vice President and Chief Communications Officer La Monica Everett-Haynes said the university is in contact with all SDSU students who are abroad in Italy and will be offering support for their return.

Everett-Haynes added that there will be no changes to class schedules at SDSU due to the coronavirus.

“With the exception of study abroad programs in China, South Korea and Italy, SDSU remains open and classes will continue as usual,” Everett-Haynes said in an email. “No plans currently exist to cancel classes, and SDSU will not plan to do so unless directed by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.”

Students who need assistance in making plans for departure from Italy are encouraged to call On Call International, API’s insurance carrier, at (855) 226-8490.  

All members of the SDSU community are encouraged to follow the most current direction of the CDC which includes practicing healthy habits and good hygiene, washing hands often and/or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains a minimum of 60% alcohol and paying attention to one’s health during travel and for 14 days after leaving an area affected by the coronavirus.