Open letter to the Virginia Tech community: University suspending participation in all activities in Italy
February 28, 2020
To our students, faculty, staff, and parents:
As Virginia Tech continues to closely monitor and assess the outbreak of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) worldwide, and its potential impact on university programs and other activities our community members are engaged in, the safety and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff remains our primary concern.
Because of the continued growth in the number of COVID-19 cases in Italy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a “Warning Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel” for Italy earlier this afternoon. Given this development, and in accordance with Policy 1070, Virginia Tech is suspending participation in all activities in Italy immediately.
In addition, the university will re-evaluate its programs in Canton Ticino, Switzerland, and decisions regarding those programs will be made in consultation with our on-site staff and cantonal officials. Currently, there are no CDC, COVID-19 related advisories for Switzerland. In Canton Ticino, all colleges and universities are open and holding classes.
Students, faculty, and staff participating in exchange programs, study abroad opportunities through other agencies and institutions, research, internships, conferences, competitions, or other university-supported travel in Italy are strongly urged to return immediately. We recommend students follow guidance from their host institution and host nation and remind all travelers of the health recommendations from the Schiffert Health Center.
Concerns for the safety, well-being, and free movement of the students, faculty, and staff in these programs guided this difficult decision. The university believes this is absolutely essential to reduce the potential risk of our students being unable to leave the region due to containment efforts. As needed, we will work directly with students, faculty, and staff to facilitate their safe return.
Impacted individuals will undoubtedly have many questions and concerns. Virginia Tech is committed to offer its full support and assistance to mitigate the academic impact of this decision and related issues. Please visit our COVID-19 website for the latest information.
In addition, Virginia Tech will continue to aid and support other students and faculty who are abroad elsewhere or seek to travel abroad in the future. With spring break approaching, we recognize that many of our international students and scholars may be unable to travel home as they may have planned. The university is committed to support those who may face these emerging challenges.
Virginia Tech’s four faculty-led, spring break programs traveling to low-risk nations (Ireland, Iceland, Ecuador, and Peru-Argentina) are proceeding as planned at this time. The CDC has not indicated COVID-19 risk to travelers in these countries.
All summer programs that include travel in CDC Warning Level 2 nations are being asked to prepare alternate plans to avoid travel to those countries. For restrictions regarding inbound travel from CDC Warning Level 3 countries, please refer to the travel restriction information website. Departments will be responsible for communicating the information on this site to their students, faculty, staff, and visiting scholars.
We continue to encourage our community to take precautions and exercise good health practices. To learn more about preventive health practices, and to receive university updates on the impact of COVID-19 outbreak, please continue to monitor our COVID-19 website.
Executive Vice President and Provost