Italy trip postponed due to Coronavirus outbreak

By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief

Newman University is postponing an academic trip to Rome that was originally scheduled for March 12 after the U.S. government imposed a level 3 travel warning on Italy due to the outbreak of coronavirus.

The “level 3” travel warning imposed over this past weekend indicates that the Center for Disease Control recommends travelers “avoid all nonessential travel to Italy.” Reuters reports say Italy has closed its schools and universities until mid-March in an attempt to contain the outbreak.

Other universities in Kansas are taking similar precautions, with Wichita State University cancelling a faculty trip to South Korea that was to take place in May, and the University of Kansas suspending all school-sponsored travel to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea.

In an official statement released by university relations, Provost Kimberly Long said Newman University’s decision is not just due to the threat of the virus, but also because of the quarantine policies and travel warnings from both the Italian and U.S. governments.

The university says the trip is now scheduled for Oct. 5-14 of this year.

The 10-day trip to Rome was announced over a year ago and was done in conjunction with a class called “Rome 2020: Spirit of Acuto.” Students, faculty and recent alumni  were signed up to take the trip and were required to pay a fee of $2600 back in the fall of 2019.

But postponing the trip to fall may not work with schedules of all the people who originally signed up to attend, like 2019 graduate Anthony Hamersky, who has applied to attend law school in the fall.

“I know there were fears whether or not we’d make it back into the country, and that was one big thing...But it being postponed into October is going to put very much a strain on me. I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to go,” Hamersky said.

Cheryl Golden, the faculty member who planned the trip, said those who are unable to attend due to the rescheduling would receive a refund, but so far none of the 12 people signed up to go on the trip have cancelled.

“We’re disappointed, you know, because we were all geared up for this,” Golden said.

But despite the bad luck, Golden said she believes the university made the right decision to postpone the trip.

“When you get off a plane in Rome, you could be immediately quarantined if you show any signs of anything. When you get on a plane to get back to the U.S., you will be screened as well,” she said. “We just felt we couldn’t subject our students to that.”

Golden said she is grateful that the ASC Sisters who will be housing the travel group were generous and flexible enough for the trip to be pushed back.

PHOTO: Courtesy Photo, J.T. Klaus