Sent February 26, 2020
Gonzaga in Florence Program Students and Parents:
As you are aware, we have been monitoring the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for several weeks. For a period of time, it appeared to be concentrated in several Asian countries, specifically China, but in recent days a new outbreak has been identified in northern Italy, with the number of diagnosed cases rapidly increasing.
We do not know how widespread this virus will become, but as more individuals are diagnosed, municipalities are moving to contain the virus by closing schools, public places, and in some cases suspending travel by train. Our first priority is the safety and security of our students, and over the past 48 hours we have become increasingly concerned that by continuing our program in Florence, we will not be able to assure an appropriate degree of safety or access to services. Further, we do not know when the situation will stabilize.
For this reason, we have made the painful decision to suspend academic operations at Gonzaga-in-Florence for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester. Along with a number of other American universities with programs in Florence, we are concerned that by remaining in Florence, our students are at risk for in-country quarantines, limitations on travel, and limited access to basic services.
We understand that this decision is a difficult one and presents an unexpected set of challenges to manage. Therefore, we are reaching out to both students and parents, with the request that in this extraordinary circumstance we work together to make everyone’s safety our highest concern. We are therefore asking that all students make immediate plans to return to the United States.
Please note that:
- Effective immediately, all academic courses will be suspended. We are working together with Dean Jason Houston, who in turn will be collaborating with faculty to develop plans for course completion utilizing distance-delivery and other appropriate modes. We will communicate a plan for the continuation and completion of current academic courses to all students by e-mail, via the website, and on the GIF Facebook page on March 6, 2020.
- Effective March 6, 2020, access to the pensiones and homestays will be closed for the remainder of the Spring semester. For any student who chooses to depart Europe without first returning to Florence, upon request, our Gonzaga in Florence staff will pack belongings for later shipment to home residences for an anticipated arrival by late summer.
- Students or parents who need assistance booking travel can seek guidance from Gonzaga in Florence and Gonzaga Study Abroad officials by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gonzaga values deeply the study abroad experience and appreciates your patience and understanding with this situation. We recognize that this is not the conclusion to your Gonzaga in Florence experience that we all desired but wish to make your health and safe return home the top priority. We will continue to update our website with additional information as it becomes available. Please contact Gonzaga’s Study Abroad Office at email@example.com with your questions and concerns.
Deena J. González, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President