Assumption Temporarily Suspends Rome Campus Operations Amid Global Health Crisis
Campus Operations Scheduled to Resume for Summer Programs
After carefully reviewing the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation in Italy and consulting with Assumption faculty in Rome, the College has temporarily suspended operations at its campus in Rome, Italy, for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. Arrangements are being made to transport students back to the United States as soon as possible. The College plans to resume Rome Campus operations for its various summer programs, pending the coronavirus situation in Italy at that time.
“The safety of our students and faculty in Rome is paramount,” said Assumption President Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D. “This decision was difficult and not one made in haste, rather, it was thoughtfully, thoroughly and exhaustively discussed over a number of days. While we hoped for students to complete the semester in Rome, an unprecedented global health crisis has intervened.”
Since Friday, February 28, there have been a number of significant developments relative to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) situation in Italy, chief among them Level 3 and 4 Travel Advisories that were put into place urging individuals to reconsider travel and not travel to certain areas of the country, respectively. In addition, as of Sunday, March 1, the Italian government reports 1,694 (and rising) confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy.
The Level 4 Travel Advisory—which advises individuals not to travel to the Lombardy and Veneto regions—is particularly concerning. In response, a majority of U.S. colleges and universities with a presence in Rome, also closed their programs. Similarly, AIFS, the third-party study abroad provider that administers the program for Assumption students studying in Florence, immediately closed that program. Assumption students in those programs will return to the United States on Wednesday.
While the concentration of coronavirus cases remains in the northern region of Italy, College officials were concerned by the rapid and unpredictable changes in Travel Advisory statuses and increases in the number of confirmed cases.
“Following more than a week of constant review of this situation and the ever-changing information, it was clear that there was only one responsible response,” added President Cesareo. “I am thankful students had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the Italian culture for the first half of the semester, and I am confident that their experience, while abbreviated, was one from which they benefited and which also provided lifelong memories.”
RETURNING TO THE UNITED STATES
As College officials monitored the unfolding situation in Italy, contingency plans were developed for transporting students and faculty from Rome to the United States, if a suspension was deemed necessary. Assumption is coordinating all travel arrangements for students to travel from Italy to the United States. Students and families were reminded that the U.S. government has indicated that individuals traveling to the United States from Italy will be subject to additional screenings; Italian officials may also screen passengers prior to their departure from Italy.
REIMBURSEMENTS, FEES AND EXPENSES
Assumption will cover all fees and differences in airfare and reimburse students for travel expenses related to their return to the United States. The College will also refund room and board expenses on a prorated basis.
COMPLETING THE SEMESTER
Rome faculty have graciously agreed to allow students to complete their courses online. Upon students’ return to the United States, they will be contacted with further details on how to proceed with their studies.
RETURN TO CAMPUS
Students returning to the United States from Italy were instructed to self-isolate at home for a minimum of 14 days, and are not permitted on campus during the 14-day period. The Office of Residential Life is exploring options for students to return to the Worcester campus, if they so choose, and will contact students to make arrangements for on-campus housing. Students were also provided the option to complete their courses from home. Since individuals can carry the coronavirus without showing symptoms, students and families were encouraged to review CDC guidelines about preventing transmission.
RETURNING TO ROME
Since students did not receive the full Rome experience, Assumption will explore the possibility of providing this group of students a future opportunity to experience the Rome program in full.
“I would like to express my gratitude to Professors Lance Lazar, Ph.D., and Catherine WoodBrooks, Ph.D., for leading the Rome program during this challenging time,” said President Cesareo. “I would also like to thank the students studying in Rome for their enthusiasm for the program and their understanding of this difficult decision.”