The University of Rhode Island recalled all student study abroad programs in Europe after President Donald Trump suspended travel from most of Europe for 30 days, beginning March 13.
Amid efforts to slow the spread of infection of COVID-19, the University announced this decision on March 12. The University also suspended all University-sponsored international travel through May 1.
Students returning to the United States from these programs are advised to return to their homes and not to campus, according to Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Gifty Ako-Adounvo, as the COVID-19 warning has been elevated to a level 3 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These students will need to self-quarantine for two weeks and URI Health Services will check in with them periodically.
The University will work with students to continue their academics through remote, online-based learning. However, details have not been finalized as of publication.
“The primary thing that we need to do right now that we are focusing on is getting students home,” said Ako-Adounvo. “We will continue to work the rest out once we know that students are back safely.”
Students who experience “grave financial need” after returning from their study abroad programs can file for some kind of reimbursement through a “compassionate appeal” which will be reviewed and followed up on, according to Ako-Adounvo.
The exact process is yet to be known, but is said to be posted soon online and students will be notified.
The University is also working with international students to continue their course work at URI. If international students decide to go home to their respective countries, the University will work with them in continuing their academics. Because they are URI students, they are expected to access their classes through the University’s remote learning courses through April 3 and on, according to Ako-Adounvo.
The upgraded distinction from the World Health Organization of COVID-19 as a pandemic and as a result URI has “revved up its pandemic planning to ensure that there is business continuity” and that education can continue to be delivered to students.
As the situation develops, the University continues to monitor the situation and adjust their response as needed to complete their mission and ensure that everyone stays safe and well, according to Ako-Adounvo.
From a March 11 press release by the CDC, there are 29 countries in Europe at a level 3 travel restriction advisory to “avoid nonessential travel, widespread sustained transmission.” China, South Korea and Iran are also all at level 3 advisories as of March 12.
As of March 12, there are 1,215 cases of COVID-19 within the United States, according to the CDC. 42 states and the District of Columbia have reported cases of the disease.
Ako-Adounvo advised against nonessential travel and stressed for students to follow CDC guidelines for their own health and the health of others.
For those who think they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, Ako-Adounvo advised them to call their healthcare provider to let them know their concerns.
“The core of it is that everyone should take very good care of themselves and, of course, if they have questions, they can contact us,” said Ako-Adounvo.