Massachusetts Colleges Urging Students Abroad To Return To U.S.

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Dozens of Massachusetts college students studying in Italy are either being told to come home, or to avoid travel, following the uptick in the number of deadly Coronavirus cases across the globe.

Stone Hill College in Easton is asking its students interning and studying in Florence and Rome to return to the U.S. within the next 48 hours.

"The health and safety of our students is the College's highest priority," officials said in a statement emailed to students and parents Tuesday afternoon. "We are asking the returning students to remain off campus for a minimum of two weeks in compliance with the CDC's recommended self-imposed quarantine."

Stone Hill's notification comes two days after stock markets plummeted over the growing spread of the Coronavirus in Italy.

As of Wednesday, Italy has 374 confirmed cases of the virus, and 12 deaths. Several towns in Northern Italy have been placed under lock down, and public venues, schools, and universities have been closed.

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Northeastern University in Boston said four students taking part in co-ops in northern Italy have been offered the option of returning home. "If they choose to do so, we would help them find alternate locations," a spokesperson said. Northeastern's website says any student planning to travel between the U.S. and several other countries during this week's Spring break, including Italy, should self-report through the school's form online.

Endicott College students in Italy are being offered financial assistance to get home. "The Office of International Education will assist in arranging travel and covering additional costs incurred related to flight changes," Steve DiSalvo, the president of Endicott College said in an email to the school's 36 students currently in Florence. If Endicott students want to return to the U.S., the email said they have to make the decision by Friday, Feb. 28 at noon.

The president of Assumption College in Worcester, Francesco Cesareo, said the school has 21 students studying in Italy right now; 18 in Rome, and three in Florence. He said all Assumption College-sponsored travel to northern Italy is also being suspended. "We have issued to all students studying in Italy prohibitions of traveling to Northern Italy, where the Coronavirus has manifested itself in large numbers," Cesareo told WBZ NewsRadio. "We are monitoring every day the advisories coming out from the Italian government, as well as from our own U.S. State Department, to determine any other courses of action at the current time."

Emerson College students abroad in the Netherlands have also been restricted from traveling outside of that country until at least March 15, and Emerson has canceled those students' upcoming trip to Milan.

Boston University postponed its Shanghai study abroad program last month amid the early phases of the Coronavirus outbreak in China.

The colleges' new rules and restrictions come after the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention called on Tuesday for the public to prepare for a possible pandemic outbreak of the Coronavirus inside the U.S.

WBZ NewsRadio's Laure Kirby (@LaurieWBZ) reports:

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