A growing list of American universities have canceled study abroad programs as the novel coronavirus continues to spread.
At least five universities have suspended programs in Italy, where the number of confirmed cases has risen to 374, including 12 deaths.
"This was a difficult decision for the university to make, given that these students were already immersed in these important global experiences," Elon University's global education dean Woody Pelton said in a news release.
"However, the health and safety of students is our top priority."
Here is a list of those universities:
Elon University announced that it has suspended its program in Florence, Italy, for the semester.
The North Carolina university said 21 Elon students and one faculty member will return home from Italy this week and its Italian academic partners will ensure the students are able to complete all coursework remotely.
"Given the uncertainty about the spread of the virus and its anticipated impact on travel and our academic program in Florence, we decided it was best to bring these students home as soon as possible," Dean Pelton said.
Fairfield University announced yesterday that it has immediately closed its Florence University of the Arts study abroad program and required all students enrolled in the program to depart Italy.
"The University is working through the logistics of allowing these students to return to Fairfield University's campus on March 15, after our spring break, and resume classes on campus," the Connecticut school said in a news release. "Students will have the option of both online and hybrid courses to ensure they remain on track toward their graduation dates."
The university said 142 students are enrolled in the program.
Florida International University
Florida International University announced Tuesday that study abroad programs to Italy, Singapore, Japan and South Korea have been canceled.
The university said any students or employees who are currently on university business in those countries must return to the US immediately.
New York University
New York University announced earlier this week that it has canceled classes for the rest of the week at NYU Florence.
The university said it suspended operations at the campus on Thursday, February 27, and it will begin holding classes remotely starting on March 2.
The university has urged students to leave Florence during this period.
And Syracuse University announced that it has suspended its program in Florence and is working to assist its students with returning to the US.
"We are working directly with our students to arrange their return to the United States. We will do everything we can to minimize disruption to their academic studies and their lives," the university said in a news release. "Many will choose to return to main campus. However, they will not return until after spring break."
The New York university said at least 342 students are studying abroad in Italy.
One of them, Syracuse junior Josh Kurzer, told CNN he was "shocked" when he found out that his program had been canceled. "As of this morning, I was starting to get worried and I booked a flight home," Kurzer, 20, said by phone from Italy. "It's been rock bottom, all I can do is laugh right now" the student said.
He says everyone had heard the virus was spreading in Italy but "people weren't worried."
"We thought classes would be canceled for a week and that's it."
This is a breaking story and will continue to be updated.
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