CIS Abroad has made the difficult decision to suspend all onsite operations in Italy for Spring 2020 programs. We are asking that all students make plans to return to the US no later than Sunday March 8, 2020, unless your university has mandated an earlier return date.
This unprecedented decision is not one we made lightly, and it comes after careful analysis of the rapidly evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Italy while keeping our students safety and security at top of mind. On February 28th, the U.S. Department of State raised its travel advisory for Italy to a Level 3: Reconsider Travel, due to an increase in the number of new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), particularly in northern Italy. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reissued its travel notice for Italy, encouraging all travelers to avoid nonessential travel to the country until further notice. Earlier today, the U.S. Department of State raised its travel advisory for Italy to a Level 4: Do Not Travel, for parts of Northern Italy.
We understand this decision is one that is reinforced by many of our U.S.-based partners, who began calling for the return of their students from programs in Italy within the last 24 hours.
All of CIS Abroad’s Italian partners, in Rome, Florence, Perugia and Sorrento, are making distance education available to students so that they can complete their coursework remotely, and we will be in touch with students directly about those specific details as they become available. We encourage students to contact their airline as soon as possible to begin making arrangements to return, and to ask specifically for a “change fee waiver”, which some airlines are granting under these circumstances. We will continue to do all that we can to support our students to the fullest extent possible, as they make their plans to depart Italy, and to continue their studies remotely.
We understand students and their families will have questions around refunds, and we would like to remind them of our policies: In cases where CIS Abroad is forced to cancel or suspend a program that is already begun, CIS Abroad will refund any portion of the participant’s fees that have not been used or committed.
In this special case, involving COVID-19 during this Spring 2020 Semester in Italy, all tuition and housing funds have been allocated and we are not anticipating a refund from our housing or academic partners.
CIS Abroad continues to monitor the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world, following the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, the U.S. State Department. We have communicated with all our students worldwide to remind them of the recommended health practices, and to inform them of CIS Abroad’s restrictions for independent student travel to China, Korea, and Italy until further notice.