blog posts Update on Programs in Italy (Feb. 24) Feb 24, 2020 11:30 amUpdate on February 29 Please review the latest advice from the University here: https://blogs.illinois.edu/view/6918/806778. Synopsis: The University is requiring that all students depart Italy at their earliest and reasonable opportunity for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. The Department of State (DoS) elevated the Lombardy and Veneto Provinces in Italy to Level 4, Do Not Travel. The U.S. Embassy released an accompanying message as well with more information. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains Italy at Level 3, Avoid Non-Essential Travel. We and our partners are exploring options to help students continue making academic progress for the remainder of the semester, as well as address other issues. We ask for patience as we complete the logistics necessary to identify and implement these solutions. Update on February 28 Please review the latest advice from the University here: https://blogs.illinois.edu/view/6918/806775. Synopsis: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) elevated Italy to Level 3, Avoid Non-Essential Travel. The Department of State also elevated Italy to Level 3, Reconsider Travel. Elevation to Level 3 is a significant “decision point” for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign regarding study abroad in a country. Following the advice from the U.S. Government, the University strongly advises and encourages students to make plans to depart Italy. However, at this time, we will not require that students depart but may do so in the future. Update on February 26 The CDC elevated Italy from Level 1 to Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions. The most significant difference is the addition of "sustained community spread" and recommending that certain travelers postpone travel in the Key Points: Italy is experiencing sustained community spread of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by the novel coronavirus. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions should consider postponing nonessential travel. The Department of State (DoS) has not changed Italy’s travel advisory or updated the Health Alert. The most recent Health Alert is: https://it.usembassy.gov/health-alert-u-s-embassy-rome-italy-february-23-2020/. At this time, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign does not anticipate canceling programs or asking students to depart. We continue monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of State (DoS), the European CDC, and the World Health Organization regarding developments, as well as receiving updates from program staff in Italy. International Safety and Security, as well as study abroad offices, will communicate directly with students via email as appropriate. We also understand and respect that some students may wish to depart their program early. Students should be aware that this decision will be considered a withdrawal and may impact student finances, academic credit, and overall academic plan. We encourage you to begin this conversation with your family, program provider and/or college study abroad office. Original Post on February 24 The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is monitoring developments surrounding the coronavirus globally and working with campus administrators and partners to make decisions in the best interest of our students. Given the information discussed below, the University does not plan to suspend programs and/or ask students to depart Italy. However, we are asking students to follow guidance from the Italian Government, the Department of State, and program partners. The University is monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of State (DoS) advisories (Italy specific) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, among other sources. We are also receiving updates from program partners and institutional peers as well. Yesterday, the CDC designated Italy as Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions. However, the CDC does NOT recommend cancelling or postponing travel to Italy. Additionally, the U.S. Embassy in Rome shared updated information about the coronavirus in Italy and the Italian Government’s response. We are encouraged that the Italian Government is taking steps to curtail the spread of the virus. This includes limiting group gatherings in towns with confirmed cases. There are also some restrictions on movement. Academically, schools and universities are closed in the following Italian regions for this week: Piemonte, Veneto, Lombardia, Emilia Romagna Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige. We have been informed that Universities in Genova and Abruzzo have also been closed. However, schools and offices in other areas remain open. The University understands that missing classes may affect your academic plans. The University will follow this aspect. Partners in Milan, Pavia, Florence, and Rome have indicated they will review developments during the next week and make additional decisions. As that happens, the University will evaluate the academic impact and respond appropriately. We are aware of rumors circulating about the closure of borders with Italy, but the French government is clear that it will not take such action. It is doubtful that other governments will do so but they will likely increase monitoring of traveler health. If students travel, be prepared for increased monitoring, to include temperature checks. We encourage everyone to refer to government sources of information rather than social media. The most important measures are staying informed and practicing hygiene precautions. In the interest of well-being, we encourage everyone to follow Italian government guidance regarding travel to affected regions and participating in large gatherings. Precautions: Many of these actions are similar to the steps that every citizen should take in the U.S. to limit the spread of the flu. Maintain good hand and personal hygiene. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes with unwashed hands. Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or sleeve. Dispose of tissues in a trashcan. Minimize contact with anyone showing signs of respiratory illness, especially in confined areas. Stay home when you are sick. If you experience any of the associated signs and symptoms (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing), and suspect you have been infected, contact your program staff and seek medical attention. Avoid unnecessary contact with animals and raw animal products. Be aware of, and comply with, the guidance of local governments and/or program staff as the situation develops. We encourage travelers to stay in contact with their local staff. Some individuals particularly susceptible to the coronavirus. Accordingly, the DoS advises: “Because older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe disease, people in these groups should discuss travel with a healthcare provider and consider postponing nonessential travel.” Those chronic conditions may include weakened immune systems or chronic respiratory issues. If either of those situations apply to you, please contact International Safety and Security at firstname.lastname@example.org. Staying informed: We encourage students to: Stay informed using trustworthy sources, such as the CDC and WHO. Another source is the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control. (Social media is not generally reliable in these situations.) In addition to the main coronavirus page, review CDC notices by country: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/italy. Review DoS travel advisories by country (search using the Destination Box on the left): https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages.html. Consult program staff regarding local updates, assistance that may be provided, and policies that may change. Communicate with University study abroad staff; coordinators and advisers appreciate hearing from Illinois students throughout the semester, regardless of circumstances. If you have questions, you can email email@example.com or call +1-217-300-6104 during business hours. We may be reached 24/7 through the University Police Department at +1-217-333-1216. We will continue to monitor developments and will provide updates appropriately students via email as the situation develops.