Boston College closed its Italy and South Korea study abroad programs on March 3 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, citing guidelines from the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Disease Control. Returning students were advised to self-quarantine for 14 days following return to the United States.
Nick Gozik, director of the Office of International Programs (OIP), said in an email to The Heights that two students were planning on studying in South Korea this semester. Fifty-three BC students were studying in Italy this semester, according to a previous email from Gozik. BC had already closed its abroad program in Parma, Italy, in late February as the virus began its spread through the country.
The OIP website lists semester offerings, both through BC and externally, in Rome, Milan, Florence, Parma, Siena, and Venice, Italy; and Seoul, South Korea.
Students returning from Italy are completing their semester coursework online, Gozik said, while students planning to study in South Korea—where classes had yet to begin—are working with their academic deans to determine the next steps.
OIP sent out an advisory email to parents of all students studying abroad on March 5 detailing the closures and OIP’s plans for other programs. While only programs in Italy, South Korea, and China have been closed due to coronavirus, OIP said that students who feel uncomfortable continuing in their programs will be allowed to return to the United States. OIP also encouraged abroad students to refrain from unnecessary travel at the moment.
“Regardless of any decision made about a program, some students may opt to return to the U.S.,” the email reads. “We will not require a student to stay in a place where they do not feel comfortable due to health or safety reasons. We will support a student’s decision to return in any way that we can. A determination as to whether a student will be able to continue their coursework from home will be up [to] the host university or partner.”
BC also had six students planning to study abroad in China, the epicenter of the outbreak, this spring, but two students returned to BC to enroll in classes, and the other four enrolled in other abroad programs.
BC has launched a webpage with updates on the coronavirus.
Featured Image by Leo Wang