Editor's Note: Gina Butkovich was the sports editor last semester. She is currently corresponding for the Kent Stater as she studies abroad in Florence, Italy. 

Kent State students will remain in Florence, Italy despite growing fear about the  coronavirus (COVID-19). 

“Unless the U.S. embassy in Rome decides that Americans should evacuate Italy, we stay here,” Fabrizio Ricciardelli, the director of the Kent State University Florence Center, said during a mandatory meeting for Kent State Florence Center students on Wednesday.  

The meeting was held to address concerns students have about the coronavirus. 

Coronavirus in Florence

Kent State Florence held a conference about the coronavirus at the Palazzo Vettori on Feb. 26, 2020. 

Concerns among students increased after Syracuse University, New York University, Fairfield University and Elon University all confirmed in statements their programs in Florence have been canceled. 

Ricciardelli assured students that if they wanted to leave right away, they could do so and attend classes remotely. However, the student would have to pay for their own flight. 

“Should things change, I will address and send you a message with all the criteria and so on,” Ricciardelli said “Of course the evacuation would be guaranteed by Kent State. Probably we will be providing group flights and so on and so forth.” 

Ricciardelli also pointed to preparations the university is making in the case of containment restrictions or a city quarantine, promising to ensure access to food, water and other necessities. 

Supermarket in Florence

The shelves of Conad, a store in Florence, Italy is empty after worry that the coronavirus on Feb. 25, 2020. 

 

Preparations are also being made to continue with classes remotely. 

“Your class works will be guaranteed,” Ricciardelli said. “Should you stay here, should you be sent home, whatever will happen.” 

Kent State has cancelled all planned field trips outside of Florence until at least March 15 due to new rules put in place by the Italian government to contain the coronavirus in Italy.

“Until March 15, this is the only restriction we have at the moment, staying within the city, which we are,” Ricciardelli said, before encouraging students to “try to travel less.” 

Kent State also brought in Taylor Susi, a senior public health major currently studying in Siena, and Elena Gianchecchi, a biological science researcher from Siena to talk about the virus itself. 

Both encouraged students taking preventative measures, such as hand washing and sneezing and coughing into your elbow, to avoid getting sick. 

A student's question following their presentation stated that students were more concerned about the possibility of being quarantined or evacuated than they were about the possibility of getting sick. 

Ricciardelli stated how the Kent State Florence Center was working closely with the Kent Campus to ensure student’s safety and planned on keeping students informed. 

“What I can promise you now is that whatever will happen, you will be assisted,” Ricciardelli said. “This is your family.” 

Contact Gina Butkovich at gbutkovi@kent.edu

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