Two Ohio University Spring Break trips to Italy were canceled on Feb. 28, along with another trip to South Korea, due to the coronavirus.
There were 25 students between two programs who were supposed to go to Italy over spring break, Carly Leatherwood, a university spokeswoman, said in an email.
There are another five students in Italy who were asked to return back to the U.S. and are currently flying back.
The Italy programs were canceled on Feb. 28 when Italy was increased to a Warning Level 3 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There is widespread transmission of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, in Italy, according to the CDC.
“I completely understand why it had to be canceled, but it’s devastating,” Jayne Yerrick, a sophomore studying journalism, said in an email.
There were also three students who were supposed to go to South Korea, which also has a level 3 warning. The trip was canceled before two of the students had left for South Korea, but the other student had already arrived in South Korea and has since returned to the U.S.
Leatherwood said refunds will occur for students whose trips were canceled are on a case-by-case basis depending on how students planned to travel as well as other factors.
Yerrick, who was supposed to go on the Italy: Piety and Power program, said she is getting a full refund, including the original $500 deposit, which was supposed to be nonrefundable.
She is concerned she won’t be able to study abroad during her time at OU now.
Eli Wanner, a junior studying history, said it’s been difficult to try to figure out what to do over spring break since the trip to Rome was canceled. He said he was frustrated the students still have to do coursework for the class despite not going to Italy.
Since the class was told Friday that the trip was canceled, Wanner didn’t find out if he would get refunded for the trip until Monday.
Wanner said he thinks the Office of Global Opportunities should have a plan in place to make sure students don’t have to wait to learn about the situation.
Jaclyn Maxwell, an associate professor of history who was going on the trip to Italy, said in an email that she is disappointed for the students who had been learning about Rome’s history for the semester.
Maxwell said she is, however, relieved that the trip was canceled because of the threat of quarantines and the “atmosphere of fear.”
Maxwell, who has been on the trip four times, plans to teach the course every other Spring Semester. She knew that when the CDC changed the warning level to three, the trip would be canceled, so she emailed the students.
All other spring break programs offered from the OGO are still scheduled, but the office is looking at the feasibility of traveling for all destinations. All summer and fall travel programs through the university have not changed either, according to the university’s website.
OU announced a temporary travel restriction to China on Jan. 31 in accordance with the CDC.
There have been 60 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., none of which have been in Ohio, according to the CDC.
Athens Mayor Steve Patterson said he was concerned for OU students who plan to travel internationally over spring break. He said he doesn’t want anyone to contract COVID-19 while abroad and then bring it back to campus or for students to get stuck in countries.
The Athens City-County Health Department has been preparing for public health emergencies since 2001, according to a news release from the department.
The health department has plans and policies that were used for H1N1 and influenza, according to the news release.
“The difficulty is finding out what to do now,” Luke Ruff, a freshman studying history who was supposed to go on the Italy: Piety and Power program, said in an email.
Ruff said the university handled the situation well, and he is getting his money back.