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Coronavirus Cuts Short Study Abroad Programs

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For many Lehigh Valley students, spring break travel and studying abroad are being disrupted by the global coronavirus outbreak.

Lehigh University in Bethlehem is requiring students studying in Italy to leave the country and return home. It comes as the epidemic widens on the Italian peninsula. More than 100 people there died and 3,000 were infected by midweek.

For Lehigh, the move to alter study plans affects about 30 students in Milan, Florence and Rome, said university spokeswoman Lori Friedman.

Lehigh isn’t the only Lehigh Valley institution making changes. Lafayette College in Easton has 14 students in Italy. Allentown’s Muhlenberg College has 22. They also have advised students to come home and complete their coursework online.

None of the students from any of the schools are allowed back on campus immediately.

In keeping with CDC guidelines, the institutions are requiring students to self-monitor for 14 days. They’ll have to watch for fever, cough or shortness of breath, then receive clearances from the schools’ health centers before getting back on campuses.

Friedman said Lehigh is following the advice of health officials to ensure safety at school and in the community at large.

“Our health and wellness center staff, as well as our International Affairs Office, is working very closely with state authorities as well as the Bethlehem public health department,” she said.

Lehigh already had suspended upcoming summer programs in China and South Korea. For now, all other study abroad programs under way this semester are continuing as planned.

Lehigh University Updates and FAQs

Lehigh University student journalists Ariana Dimitrakis, Katie McNulty and Gabi Falk contributed to the VIDEO BELOW: