Study Abroad Programs Suspended After Federal Coronavirus Warnings

Drew Kaplan ’20, Editor-in-Chief

Academic programming at some Dickinson College study abroad locations have been suspended due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus. Affected programs include Dickinson in Bologna, as well as partner programs located in Florence and Rome and the partner program in Seoul, South Korea. 

In an email to the Dickinson College community, President Margee Ensign explained that the decision for the suspension of the programs is based on the issuing of a travel warning by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the United States Department of State advising against travel to Italy and South Korea due to the risk of infection. Ensign explained that as of Feb. 28, the college “is requiring that all students leave Italy” due to the issuance of a ‘Level Three – Avoid Nonessential Travel’ warning by the CDC. 

According to Executive Director of the Center for Global Study and Engagement (CGSE) Samantha Brandauer, the program suspensions will affect 38 students in total, 29 who had been studying in Bologna, three in Florence at a partner program run by Syracuse University, two at the partner program in Rome run by Temple University, and four who were planning to study at Yonsei University in the Dickinson in Korea program. Brandauer explained that students who had been studying in Italy are being worked with to determine exactly how their academic coursework will be credited upon their return. “Individualized plans for each student to complete as much of their coursework as possible” are being implemented, Brandauer explained. “Most study abroad programs in Italy have been suspended,” Brandauer added. Students leaving Italy expressed sadness regarding their leaving and return to Carlisle. Prahbleen Kaur ’21 said, “[L]eaving Bologna was really hard to do as a year abroad student and I am sure it was a tough decision made by Dickinson [College]. […] I was scared that this would ruin my academics and getting all full credits, but Dickinson in Carlisle and Bologna are communicating information to every student about our academics. I really wish I had more time to take in everything Italy had to offer.”

Ensign explained in the email that students reenrolling in Carlisle after leaving Italy are asked not to return to campus until Mar. 15, two weeks after their evacuation from Italy. 

For the students due to study in South Korea however, the college has “decided to suspend plans for four of our students who were slated to begin at Yonsei University in March,” according to an email sent to the college community by Ensign. “We will offer those students a leave of absence for the spring semester,” Ensign wrote. 

Brandauer explained that the college has an emergency response team which meets daily, regarding the coronavirus, to monitor the situation. “To my knowledge and in my international education professional life this is somewhat unique territory” said Brandauer, “there is great support among everyone in the field of education abroad and the higher education community to support each other and share responses and resources. […] We have a strong plan in place.” Brandauer added that further contingency planning is underway, including plans in case the program will remain suspended for the Fall 2020 semester. 

“Remember that this situation is changing rapidly, and you should be monitoring travel advisories closely” added Ensign, “the CDC has suggested all higher education institutions consider suspending all study-abroad programs, but they are leaving the decision-making in the hands of colleges and universities. We are reviewing this recommendation for study abroad.”