ROME, ITALY — As positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to make global headlines, the University of Mary is thankful no cases have been reported on or close to our Rome Campus in the Monteverde Nuovo neighborhood of the Eternal City. The university has been carefully monitoring the situation on the ground in Italy, and all recommended measures have been taken to ensure the safety of our students. As early as last week, we informed the students that they were free to return to their homes in the United States, at their own discretion and in consultation with their families, and that those who chose to return would be able to finish their studies for the semester via technology.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has now upgraded its former Level 2 Travel Alert for Italy (“Practice Enhanced Precautions”) to a Level 3 Travel Warning (“Avoid Non Essential Travel”). Relatedly, the U.S. Department of State has now issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory (“Reconsider Travel”) for Italy and a Level 4 Advisory (“Do Not Travel”) for certain areas of Northern Italy.
In light of this, and not wanting our students to be in a situation where they are unable to return home, we have taken the decision to bring our Rome students back to the United States. We will begin working with them immediately on travel arrangements, maintaining operations of the Rome Campus until the last student has safely reached America.
We recognize that this is a disappointment for the students, who have grown so close to each other as a community during these past weeks abroad and who have looked forward for so long to this opportunity to study in the Eternal City and to travel throughout Europe.
Spring semester Rome students will return to their permanent place of residence to reside with their families for a transitional period of two weeks, so that they can recover from jet lag and so proper health screenings can take place. The university is unable to accommodate returning students on our Bismarck campus. The option will remain for them to complete the remainder of the semester’s classes in an online format so our students do not lose the academic progress they have made.
However, from about March 20 the operations of the Rome program will relocate to the University of Mary’s campus in Arizona. Returning students who have been screened by a qualified physician will have the choice to spend the final five weeks of the semester there. Premium housing has been arranged within walking distance of our Arizona campus, there is ample classroom space at our facilities there, and a hiking trip is being planned to Sedona and the Grand Canyon. While our Rome students will not be taking classes at Arizona State University, as the students who are part of the domestic exchange do, they will be finishing University of Mary classes together in-person and through teleconference technology.
The university anticipates making a decision about the “Maymester” session of our Rome program by the end of next week.
The University of Mary asks for prayers for the safe return of our students to their families and homeland while expressing deep gratitude to our staff and faculty in Rome and Bismarck who have shown them such care.