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Isolation recommended for U of A Students and faculty returning to U.S. as coronavirus concerns grow

All University of Arkansas students currently studying abroad in Italy will return to the U.S. amid Coronavirus concerns.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- The University of Arkansas Chancellor Joseph Steinmetz has announced that academic operations in the Rome, Italy, location of their study abroad program have been suspended for the rest of the semester, and all University of Arkansas students will return to the U.S. to continue studies. The Arkansas Department of health are recommending self-isolation to all faculty and students. 

The announcement comes after the U.S. Department of State and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both elevated the travel advisories in Italy to Level 3 - Reconsider Travel or Avoid Nonessential Travel. 

"We have been watching the CDC and the State Department and the World Health Organization almost every few hours since the beginning of the semester," said Amy Unruh, Director of Communications for Graduate School and International Education. 

The University of Arkansas has over 150 students studying abroad. The Rome center has the highest concentration with 100. 

The students and faculty coming back from Rome will be asked to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days. 

Students looking forward to studying in Rome over the summer wait to receive updates about the potential for further suspensions. 

"You know, I had a backup plan to begin with and hopefully everyone else that's going did," said Austin Wood, a sophomore at the UofA, scheduled to study in Rome for a summer class. 

He plans to take a three week economics course. Wood said, he agrees with the University's decision to suspend the program in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. Ultimately, Wood hopes things will get better so his trip won't be cancelled. 

"Hopefully I get to go, but there's still that fallback of changing my schedule and just sitting and waiting," said Wood. 

The University said, the status for summer courses and programs will not be known until later in the semester. 

"We do a lot of contingency planning so we're best prepared to make those decisions when the moments arrive for our students," said Unruh, outside of the study abroad building. 

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