KENT, Ohio — Kent State university is bringing all of its students currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy home due to ongoing concerns about the spread of coronavirus in that country and elsewhere.
In a statement issued late Saturday afternoon, Dr. Marcello Fantoni of the Office of Global Education and Dr. Fabrizio Ricciardelli of the school's Florence Center called the move "necessary for [students'] protection." The Centers for Disease Control recently issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Italy, asking all Americans to avoid "nonessential travel" to the country.
The students have been in Florence since the beginning of the spring semester, but will instead be called into mandatory meetings Sunday morning and afternoon to discuss travel and other arrangements. KSU also announced earlier this month it was restricting school-sponsored travel to China (where the coronavirus outbreak began), although no study abroad trips are currently scheduled until the summer.
Once home, the University is also asking students to self-isolate for at least 14 days. The school sent this message to students that plan to come home:
"We strongly recommend that you do not return to campus but instead should self-isolate at home as this often provides the most familiar and supportive surroundings. Please abstain from public places like classrooms, work, public gatherings and public transportation.
During your 14-day self-isolation, we are recommending you check your temperature daily and as needed. If you develop a fever (temperature > 100.4) or symptoms of a respiratory illness such as cough or shortness of breath, please seek medical advice by calling your local health department. If you cannot reach your local health department, call ahead before going to the emergency room or doctor’s office to notify them of your recent travel."
So far, coronavirus has infected more than 86,000 people and killed more than 2,900, including nearly 30 people in Italy. Washington state officials also announced Saturday that a King County man has become the first person to die from the disease inside the United States.
In a press conference this afternoon, President Donald Trump said an increase in U.S. cases is "likely," although he and senior government health officials still say the risk to most Americans is "low." In addition to Italy, the administration is also urging Americans not to travel to places in South Korea most-affected by the outbreak and is tightening its travel ban on Iran, where 43 people have died. The CDC currently has all three countries as well as China under a Level 3 warning.
Miami University in Oxford is taking similar steps, "urging" (but not requiring) all students currently studying in Italy and South Korea to return to the U.S., and says officials are ready to help them do so. Two students at the school who are from China were tested for the coronavirus earlier this month, but both came back negative.So far, the state has yet to have a confirmed case of coronavirus.
If you are a Kent State student in need of medical assistance or have questions about your academics amid coronavirus treatment, call University Health Services at 330-672-2322 or after hours to the KSU Nurse Line at 330-672-2326. Questions about academic accommodations should be directed to the Office of Global Education at 330-672-7980.