Fordham Suspends All Study Abroad Programs in Europe

Sarah Huffman and Eliot Schiaparelli

Fordham suspended all study abroad programs in Europe in light of the rapidly worsening COVID-19 situation throughout Europe. The university informed students that they should return home in an email on Wednesday March 11. 

“The University took this step to protect the health and wellbeing of study abroad students, and to ensure that none might be stuck overseas by other nations’ quarantine measures,” said Joseph M. McShane S.J., President of the University, in an email.  “The University will ensure that the returning students can complete their academic requirements for the spring semester via distance learning options.” 

According to an email sent to students at Fordham’s London Centre, classes will end on March 20 and will resume remotely on March 23. Students were strongly advised to cancel spring break plans and travel home as soon as possible 

“We have made the difficult decision to suspend all study abroad programs in Europe in the interest of our students’ health and safety,” said Joseph Rienti Ph.D., Director, International & Study Abroad Programs, in the email. “As we have continued to monitor the rapidly evolving COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation throughout Europe, we have, unfortunately, seen it worsen in recent days.” 

According to Sarah Kowaleski, FCRH ’21, the mood at Fordham’s London Centre campus for the past week has been fully centered around the novel Coronavirus that has been filling the news. 

“No one’s been talking about anything but the virus,” said Kowaleski. “Everyone’s been debating canceling trips or booking different spring break trips.”

As of March 2, Fordham had offered all students involved in their study abroad programs the option to go home and finish their course load remotely. On March 3 and 4, London Center also offered informational sessions about the Coronavirus and the steps the center would take moving forward. At that time students were reminded that they were not allowed to travel to countries with a level three or above designation from the state department and they advised students  not to travel away from their host country.

Fordham’s move to cancel it’s study abroad programs comes as the United States Government weighs further travel restrictions on Europe

President Trump announced a 30 day travel restriction on March 11. The suspension will not apply to U.S. permanent residents and will not affect travel from Britain.

Brianna Wagner, FCRH ’21, said she had been expecting the decision. 

“I think it’s really unfortunate that our time here was cut short,” she said. “There were so many places I wanted to go and things I wanted to do but I am glad Fordham is being cautious”

Fordham Granada students were put on a travel ban and told they would lose their housing if they broke it according to Kristen Gardiner, FCRH ’21, a student in the program.

“I’m so incredibly upset that my study abroad program has been canceled,” said Gardiner. “I of course wish we could stay, however, I just wish things had been handled differently and things were not so stressful before they made the decision to tell us to leave . It felt as if Fordham knew they were going to send us home but the past few weeks have been filled with uncertainty.”

Earlier in the semester, the university recalled all students from Northern Italy following the spread of coronavirus in the region. 

As of March 9, face-to-face classes and all university events at Fordham’s New York campuses have been canceled until at least March 29. 

Any student experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, which may be similar to the flu or common cold, should call University Health Services immediately at (718) 817-4160.