UI cancels Italy study-abroad programs amid coronavirus concerns

Joining the list of University of Iowa study-abroad programs suspended because of coronavirus concerns are a number of Italy programs.



Airport employees wear masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus COVID-19 as they work at the Sao Paulo International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020.

Charles Peckman, Senior Reporter

A sharp increase in cases of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Italy has caused the University of Iowa to suspend its long-standing CIMBA Italy program and a number of UI-affiliated programs located in the country for the remainder of the semester.

The suspension includes programs in Italy run by USAC, IES, Wells College, and CEA following the CDC’s decision on Feb. 28 to raise its warning for Italy to a Level 3-Avoid Nonessential Travel. The UI’s cancelation of these programs comes on the heels of suspended programs in other countries impacted by the virus, including South Korea and China.

According to Italy’s Civil Protection Authority, the country now has 1,694 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Sunday. The previous day, there were 1,128 cases. Delta Airlines is suspending flights to Milan until May 1.

As of Monday, the global death toll has surpassed 3,000. Top government officials including Vice President Mike Pence have emphasized the federal government’s commitment to fighting a potential outbreak of the virus across the country.

In a message sent to CIMBA students on Feb. 28, the UI said students’ health is of the utmost concern.

“On that date the Department of State also raised their Travel Advisory to Reconsider Travel,” the message said. “Due to the risk elevation from both agencies, the University of Iowa administration has made the decision to cancel the CIMBA program in Italy for the remainder of the spring semester.”

The CIMBA program, according to the message, officially closes at 9 p.m. Monday local time. Students are being urged to leave the country before Friday. Despite the abrupt cancelation, the message said the university will reimburse travel costs when necessary.

“We will work to ensure that students can complete their coursework and earn full academic credit for the spring semester,” the message said. “Classes will be suspended temporarily as individual instructors determine how best to complete the semester’s instruction. A detailed plan for the continuation of classes will be forthcoming.”

The UI’s message posted Sunday about non-CIMBA programs said it is the university’s understanding that the program providers are developing protocols allowing students to complete as much spring-semester coursework as possible.

“The University of Iowa and the Office of the Provost are committed to facilitating the completion of your academic work for this term,” the message stated.