Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center.
By Luis Ahrens
Concerns about the potential spread of the Coronavirus has cut short the semester for students studying at Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center.
Amidst continuing concerns regarding the spread of the virus in Italy and other parts of Europe, Loyola’s administration decided to have students within its Rome campus return to the United States by Wednesday, March 4.
“With our students’ well-being at the forefront of our decision-making and the newest directive from the U.S. government, Loyola University Chicago has decided to repatriate students studying in Italy at the JFRC,” Dr. Michael Andrews, director of the JFRC, wrote in a statement. “This decision coincides and aligns with a number of other U.S. universities and partner schools with programs in Rome.”
The move comes after the Center for Disease Control issued a level 3 Travel Health Notice for Italy after a sudden increase in Coronavirus appeared in the north of the country. The travel advisory asks travelers to “reconsider travel to Italy,” keeping all non-essential travel to a minimum. Areas like the Lombardy and Veneto regions have received a level 4 health alert, which advises against any travel into those areas.
Lazio, the region in which Rome is located and consequently the JFRC, has only seen two cases of the virus. Loyola, however, as well as John Cabot University, also in Rome, decided to return all of their students to their respective homes.
Returning Loyola students are being told to stay at home for a 14-day observation period as per CDC instructions, staying alert for any potential symptoms that may arise.
Some students are concerned that the university’s decision to send students back home interrupted integral experiences that could have been achieved while abroad.
“When I got the email, I was with a group of my friends and we all just burst into tears. Frankly it was pretty devastating,” said Maura McManus, sophomore at Loyola and current student at the JFRC. “Most of us have flights booked all around Europe for the rest of the semester, so it’s a terrible loss of money for a lot of people. But what’s worse is the loss of experience I feel like I should have.”
Loyola said in its statement that it would help “defray the costs of additional fees and incidentals” imparted on students because of the decision as well as providing on-campus housing for returning students , but has not specified exactly how it intends to alleviate student financial concerns.
“While we realize that there will be a disruption in our students’ academic semester, we are making plans to create a positive alternative learning experience,” Andrews said. “Our concern for each other and our response as a Loyola community will continue to contribute to our resilience, learning and fortitude as global citizens.”