By Grace Snell, Viking Fusion Reporter, and Ben Allee, Viking Fusion News Producer
Featured image courtesy of Johns Hopkins interactive coronavirus map, captured Monday, March 2 at 7:56 p.m.
We will update this page as new information becomes available.
MOUNT BERRY, Ga. — Two Berry students who planned to spend their spring abroad are now without classes due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Abigail Stallings, a junior art major, is currently in Europe waiting to return to the U.S. She was studying abroad through the Studio Arts College International (SACI) in Florence, Italy, which informed students that it was closed on Saturday afternoon. Stallings said that this decision is the result of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which had infected 11 people in the region of Tuscany, where SACI is located, as of Sunday.
Taryn Cox, a sophomore economics major, planned to go to South Korea for her spring semester. On February 26, however, the board of directors for CIS Abroad, her study abroad program, cancelled the trip before it began. She said that students who planned to attend could still do so later on.
“CIS has informed us that we can either be reimbursed with a full refund and start the abroad process over again, or if we are interested in a summer or fall program they will transfer the funds over,” Cox said.
In Stallings’ case, the future is not so clear. She is currently touring outside of the city of Florence on her spring break, and must return to Florence before she can fly to the U.S. Stallings said that getting home might not be easy due to possible quarantines, and that she does not know what she will do for the rest of her academic year.
“So, after spring break I will return to Florence on Sunday, hoping that the borders will remain open and I will pack my things,” Stallings said in an email to Viking Fusion. “I am unsure of whether I will remain at home for the rest of the semester, return to berry, [sic] and I am unsure about the US’ [sic] decision on quarantine upon arrival.”
In her email, Stallings said that the arrival of the virus in Italy greatly affected her daily life in recent weeks. She recalled workers in hazmat suits and emergency tents in front of a hospital in Florence, and said that programs similar to SACI shut down one by one as the virus spread.
Despite the cancellation and uncertainty, Stallings said she is grateful for the study abroad experience she has had.
“The only thing I can do (along with the other students) is appreciate the time I have had abroad (because it is still so worth it), and patiently wait to see how this will all be handled,” Stallings said.
Other study abroad programs associated with Berry are being threatened by the spread of the virus, but no other cancellations have been reported.