| by Rosa Cuda

Schools Abroad

Dear Students,

As with all health and safety information, the Language Pledge is suspended so that the information below is clear. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Over the weekend, Italy saw a dramatic increase in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. At the time of this writing, there are 222 cases in Italy, with five associated deaths reported. While the case numbers are relatively low in comparison to Asia, Italy is being proactive in its response to this increase by taking preventative measures, including imposing travel restrictions in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, as well as canceling classes at some schools and universities. The University of Ferrara is one of the universities that has decided to postpone the start of the semester by at least a week. Given this, we have decided to suspend the program in Ferrara for this semester and have asked the one student we have studying there to relocate to Florence or Rome.

I met this morning with staff in the Vermont office as well as our security and health advisors at Global Rescue to discuss the situation in Italy. In an effort to reduce exposure to the coronavirus, we are putting the following measures in place:

  1. Classes at the Sede will continue, as planned.
  2. We will follow guidance from the Universities of Florence and Rome. You will be able to attend classes at the universities as long as the classes are in session. If, at this time, those of you in Florence prefer not to attend courses at the University of Florence because of the concern of greater exposure to the virus (due to the higher concentration of students), accommodations can be made so that you can take all of your course work at the Sede. Please let me know within the next 48 hours if you would like to discontinue your course work at the University of Florence and enroll in additional courses at the Sede.
  3. If you are currently enrolled in an internship and are concerned about exposure to the coronavirus through the workplace, we will allow you to enroll in a Sede course instead of completing the internship.
  4. Until further notice, we are canceling all class-related and program excursions.
  5. Students are prohibited from independent travel to regions where authorities have imposed travel restrictions. At the time of writing this message, these restrictions are in the areas of Lombardy and Veneto. While the travel restrictions are for certain towns in these regions, you are prohibited from traveling to these regions at all. Please note that travel restrictions may expand to other areas in Italy. It is critically important that you stay updated on where the restrictions are if you are making travel plans. You can get this information from local news sources, but also from the Italy Travel Alerts sent to you directly from Global Rescue.
  6. It is absolutely mandatory to fill out a side-trip registration form for all travel even within your region of study.
  7. 7. While independent travel to areas outside of the restricted areas is not prohibited, we strongly discourage students from doing so at this time. Please be advised that travel or any time spent in highly trafficked areas (e.g. , train terminals, bus stations, tourist attractions) can increase your risk of exposure to the coronavirus. If you travel to a region where the coronavirus is identified soon after your visit, you may be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. If self-quarantine is required of you, we will allow you to Zoom into classes at the Sede, but those arrangements will not be able to be made for your direct enrollment courses at the universities, which could jeopardize your ability to complete the credit(s) for your university courses. Knowing this in advance, if any of you would like to drop your university course(s) now and enroll only in Sede courses, we are willing to make this happen, but you must let me know within 48 hours.

As you have seen over the months with the spread of coronavirus throughout China, Asia, and the world, the situation is very fluid and things can change rapidly. With this in mind, we need to ask you to follow our advice and be vigilant about your health and wellness. More information on the coronavirus and precautions you can take can be found online at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization.

Again, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.

 

Rosa Cuda, Ph.D
Associate Professor and Director
Middlebury School in Italy