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University Of Illinois Tells Students In Italy To Return Home Now

An Italian army soldier blocks off a road leading to the village of Vo'Euganeo, in Italy's northern Veneto region, on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. Vo'Euganeo is the epicenter of the Veneto cluster of the new virus.

URBANA – At the beginning of this semester, 137 University of Illinois students were studying in Italy. On Sunday, university administrators told them to leave the country as soon as possible. The same day, the Italian government said its coronavirus infections jumped 40% to 1,576 and deaths of infected people rose to 34.

The email from Andrew Collum, the University’s Associate Director for International Safety and Security, arrived in students’ in boxes before dawn Sunday morning
Natalie Salazar is in Pravia, 28 miles south of Milan in northern Italy.
“I woke up, I checked my email and it says you’re all required to go back,” said Salazar.  “It kind of ruined everyone’s day.”

In the email, the University cited the US State Department’s Level 4 travel advisory and the “continuing uncertainty about COVID-19.”

Salazar, a double major in Linguistics and Italian, says she’s not sure this is the best time to leave.

“I don’t wanna leave and if I had the actual choice I would not and having us get on a plane with recycle air for so long? It doesn’t make sense.”

But concern that the situation in Italy might get worse before it gets better was enough for Finance major Joe Hume to book his ticket home.

“Once we got the official notice that the university would like us to leave Italy immediately, my parents kind of freaked out,” said Hume. “Then they just said ‘wherever you are we’re just bringing you home now’.”

The university is requiring all students returning from Italy to self-quarantine for two weeks before returning to campus. 

That’s fine with Adam Sang, who studies Information Systems and Supply Chain Management.  He had hoped to spend the semester in Milan, but arrived on a flight back to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Sunday night.  Sang plans to stay with his parents in Arlington Heights for a few weeks, and says it feels good to be home.

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