PHILADELPHIA - Temple University is bringing home students studying abroad in Rome amid the growing coronavirus outbreak, university officials announced Saturday.
The university made the decision to cease in-person academic operations for the spring semester after the U.S. State Department issued a level three travel advisory — the second-highest level of warning — for the whole of Italy late Friday, saying that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended “avoiding nonessential travel.”
“It hasn’t gotten the point in Rome where everyone is wearing a mask and where you go, people are going crazy because we are south of where the two towns were quarantined,” said Temple student Carly Barrist.
School officials asked all affected students to contact the university immediately to begin making arrangements to return home.
Students who spoke with FOX 29 agreed that the university is working hard to help with the unexpected move, but the decision is hurting their wallets.
“We lost a lot of money on flights, not to mention where we were living. We don’t think we are going to get a refund for the missing two months,” said student Ava Gipson.
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Other major countries have issued warnings for only defined areas of northern Italy where most cases of the new coronavirus are clustered. The national total reported by Italian health authorities exceeded 1,100 on Saturday, the greatest number of any country outside Asia. There have been 29 deaths of people with the virus.
Temple Rome faculty members will offer classes online beginning March 9, to avoid interrupting academic progress.
Fay Trachtenberg, interim director and acting dean of Temple University Rome, added that the university can help secure housing for students who wish to return to Temple's main Philadelphia campus.
More information from the school's study abroad program is expected in the coming days.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.