KENT, Ohio (WJW) – More than 200 Kent State University students are returning to the United States barely two months into a semester studying at the school’s campus in Florence, Italy.
With the spread of coronavirus in Italy, the Centers for Disease Control is advising travelers to avoid all non-essential trips to the country.
The university released a statement saying:
“With the rise to a Level 3 Travel Health Notice by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Kent State is requiring all Florence campus students to return to the United States due to the rapidly developing coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis in Italy.”
On Tuesday many of those students were on commercial flights to return to their homes. They will begin a two-week self-quarantine after they arrive.
Some of the students, however, did not wait for the university’s decision and returned to the United States on their own this past weekend.
Among them is Brittany Davis, a junior studying interior design.
Davis says coronavirus was not even discussed until several weeks ago after the students visited Rome and the first cases there started to show up.
“A couple of weeks later, it was a Friday, and there were only three suspected cases at that point. And then, Saturday morning. there were a couple more cases and then by Sunday morning there were 162 cases,” said Davis.
“At that time it was like holy cow. That was three days and it spread that far and then after that it was just night by night. It was a hundred more people every time that you woke up and checked the news,” she added.
“It started to get kind of scary because it felt like you were waiting it out to see if it was ever going to reach Florence or what was going to happen or if groceries were going to get more expensive. You would find yourself constantly checking the U.S. Embassy or the news to make sure that you aren’t supposed to be evacuating or quarantining, wondering how many more people have been affected,” Davis added.
Other than on her flight back home Davis says she has had no contact with anyone.
She is spending the next two weeks in Kent where she tells Fox 8 News she is taking the quarantine very seriously.
Also studying in Florence was Camryn McCrossan, who has returned to her family’s home in Buffalo, New York.
“Last weekend, my last weekend in Florence, was a completely normal weekend. There was no talk about it and then all of a sudden on Monday I heard from my friend Brittany about two other schools being sent home and it was like ‘Oh my gosh, what’s going on?'” McCrossan told Fox 8 News.
The university says none of the students returning home are ill.
“I don’t think its something that everyone should be like panicking about, but also it’s not something that’s just normal and an everyday thing. Once all the schools were sending everybody home I started to panic a little bit and it was just a very scary thing. I didn’t want to be quarantined in my apartment in Florence with no access to anything,” said McCrossan.
Both girls believe the University’s decision was the right one.
Cameryn says her mother is also working from home during the time she is in self quarantine.
“My family and I agreed that in cases like this, where one is going to gamble on the side of caution, of course we didn’t want to risk anything. We just wanted to get me out of there when we saw the chance to,” Mccrossan said.
In the meantime, Kent State is working to try and create online courses and classes that can help the students of varying degrees complete their semester on time, even while they are quarantined. They are also giving students a window to get back to the United States without penalizing them for the time missed.
Both Davis and Mccrossan said they are disappointed to be missing their opportunity to study abroad and will have to try to get refunds for weekend trips that were already scheduled.
But, they say they also understand the university’s decision was made in their best interest.
“For me, I don’t like to rely on other people’s decisions for my safety so I think that it was a good idea for them to bring us home,” said Davis.