Loyola University Chicago

John Felice Rome Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for Italy

March 16, 2020

Due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, effective March 13, 2020, and continuing through the end of semester, the Loyola University Chicago campuses have suspended all in-person classes and moved them to virtual instruction. Additionally, residential students in Chicago are being asked to vacate the residence halls by no later than end of day on March 19, 2020. As a result, John Felice Rome Center students will not be allowed to return to the Chicago campus following their 14-day self-isolation period. JFRC students will take midterms online during the week of March 16-20, and beginning on March 23, their classes will resume online via the Sakai platform. Students have received communications from their individual professors with additional instructions.

March 10, 2020

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has declared that all of Italy is now on lockdown as of March 10, 2020, until April 3, 2020. The new regulations call for all citizens to stay home and avoid non-essential travel.

Due to continuing concerns over student health and travel related to coronavirus (COVID-19) both in Italy and the U.S., Loyola University Chicago has decided that all summer academic programs and conferences scheduled for the John Felice Rome Center will be canceled. Sadly, this includes cancelling the May 23, 2020, Alumni Open House at the JFRC.

With this fluid situation continually evolving, and in light of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of State’s Level 3 threat warnings for Italy (and its Level 4 warning for districts in northern Italy), as well as fear of prolonged spread of the virus from the northern part of the country and concerns of the virus being spread in the U.S., it is unlikely that short-term conditions will improve to allow these programs to run.

Loyola students who were planning to attend an academic program at the JFRC this summer are encouraged to engage with the Office of International Programs (OIP) for other opportunities that exist in countries that are not impacted by the current health crisis.

March 6, 2020

Loyola University Chicago has repatriated all 237 students studying in Italy at the JFRC. Students have now all left campus, safely boarded their flights, and arrived to their intended destination. Per CDC guidelines, students re-entering the U.S. are required to stay at their individual homes for a 14-day observation period. They have been instructed to seek medical attention in the event they notice any symptoms. Following the 14-day observation period in their homes, students may choose to stay at home or return to the LUC campus, where student housing will be available for them.

To ensure the highest levels of academic integrity and student success, all our Spring Semester classes will continue online so that 100% of our students can complete their required coursework and earn academic credits. Continuing their studies with the same professor and group of classmates will also provide much-needed consistency during this period of disruption. JFRC faculty members are receiving ongoing training and professional support from Loyola’s Office of Online Learning to ensure a smooth transition.

The academic semester will continue through Loyola’s Online Academic Management System, SAKAI. Just like all LUC platforms, students can access SAKAI using their Loyola username and password from any electronic device. Students will receive further information and updates from their individual professors for their particular courses. Students are encourage to remain vigilant and check their Loyola e-mail for relative academic information.

All course activities will resume the week of March 16, 2020, with midterm exams being administered during this week on their originally scheduled day.

March 2, 2020

Dear Students, Parents, Faculty, and Staff of Loyola's John Felice Rome Center (JFRC),

Thank you for your understanding, ongoing support, and cooperation as we manage through this global health concern. I know we all share disappointment and sadness about having to modify the JFRC Spring Semester 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns. It is gratifying to see our community come together as we navigate this unique transition.

Since yesterday’s message announcing the repatriation of Loyola University Chicago students and partner school students studying in Italy at the JFRC, we have been actively working with travel providers and staff to help answer questions about contingency travel planning. Our current main goal is to assist students so that they are able to return home in a safe and timely manner. 

Below, please find written guidance on how to book return travel. The following information was shared with students at our mandatory group meeting last night. Please note that we are asking that everyone book their return travel for no later than Wednesday, March 4.

For those who traveled to Rome on the group flight, our travel agency Heritage Travel is already working to rebook your flights. We will follow up when we have more information on the arrangements.

For those who booked your own travel, we recommend that you first attempt to rebook via whatever means you booked your travel to Rome in case you can benefit from points, discounts, or travel benefits that may be available to you via your credit cards or otherwise related to your original travel arrangements. Please be sure to keep documentation of any expenses (receipts) incurred so that Loyola can assist in defraying those costs.

If you encounter any difficulty rebooking and have a CISI insurance policy (this includes all LUC students and most visiting students), you may get assistance from CISI’s partner AXA (+1-312-935-1703 / MEDASSIST-USA@AXA.ASSISTANCE.US), a travel assistance service that is included in the policy. You will need to provide the following:

  • Passport Information
  • Original return ticket info, if available
  • Credit card information for payment

If you encounter any difficulty rebooking and have a GeoBlue policy (SLU students only), you may be able to get similar assistance from them. They can be reached at +1-610-254-8771 or globalhealth@geo-blue.com.

As mentioned in Saturday’s message, Loyola University Chicago will help defray the costs of additional fees and incidentals not covered in students' existing travel itineraries. LUC will address individual economic hardship cases and travel booking agent arrangements. 

As an important reminder, based on current information, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines direct that students and individuals re-entering the U.S. from a Level 3 country (Italy) are required to stay in place at home for a 14-day observation period. In the event that any symptoms are noticed, students should seek immediate medical attention. 

Because you are returning from a country with a Travel Alert Level 3, upon arrival you should stay home and monitor your health for 14 days. Please follow instructions during this time. Your cooperation is integral to the ongoing public health response to try to slow the spread of this virus. 

  • Do not go to school or work. This includes not visiting any of Loyola’s Chicago campuses, or the home campus in the case of students from partner schools.
  • Take your temperature with a thermometer twice a day and watch your health.
  • If you develop a fever (100.4°F/38°C) or cough, seek medical care immediately. Call aheadbefore going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them your symptoms and that you were in an affected area. (If in Chicago, you may also call Chicago Department of Public Health at 312-746-7425 during business hours or after hours call 311 and request to speak to the Medical Director on call.) In the case of a medical emergency, dial 911.

Symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, which could develop from 2 days to 14 days after exposure, include: 

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Please remember that it is our civic responsibility to do everything we can to prevent any additional spread of the virus, keeping in mind the most vulnerable among us.

While we realize that this is not an ideal situation for our students, parents, faculty, or staff and that there will be disruption in our students' academic semester, we remain committed to providing a positive alternative learning experience to successfully complete the Spring Semester.

As this situation evolves, we will continue to do our best to update everyone in the event of additional questions and changes. At present, our focus is on monitoring and implementing contingent travel plans so our students return home safely and understand the importance of staying at home during this 14-day period as directed by the CDC.  Our other parallel track involves putting into place alternative learning approaches so that all JFRC students can successfully complete their Spring Semester.

Everyone is most grateful for your patience and cooperation during this difficult time. You all remain in our thoughts and prayers; please keep us in yours.

Warm regards,

Dr. Michael F. Andrews
Director, Loyola Rome Center

February 29, 2020

Message from the Director:

Dear Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff in Loyola's John Felice Rome Center (JFRC),

With our students' wellbeing at the forefront of our decision-making and the newest directive from the U.S. government, Loyola University Chicago has decided to repatriate students studying in Italy at the JFRC and is asking all JFRC and partner school students to return home by Wednesday, March 4. This decision coincides and aligns with a number of other U.S. universities and partner schools with programs in Rome. 

Based on evolving U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, students re-entering the U.S. are required to stay in place at home for a 14-day observation period. In the event that any symptoms are noticed, students should seek immediate medical attention. 

The reason for our decision has been influenced in part by the recent travel advisory changes made by the U.S. Department of State and the CDC. Both agencies raised their travel advisory levels for Italy to Level 3 (Non-Essential Travel) out of concern for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in that country.

As a result of this change in advisory status, we are immediately working with the three major travel providers with whom the majority of our students have booked their travel (Heritage Travel, CISI, and GeoBlue) to begin booking flights back home to the U.S. An email with more details and contact information is forthcoming.

Loyola University Chicago will help defray the costs of additional fees and incidentals not covered in your students' existing travel itineraries and will address individual economic hardship cases and travel booking agent arrangements. We will also be following up with additional information on how we will accomplish this travel movement.

Given the significance of these transitions and to alleviate additional stress on our students, we are deferring mid-term examinations which we originally scheduled for the week of March 2.  We are creating alternative and on-line academic programming which we expect to resume the week of March 16. Our plans call for available student housing in Chicago after students have completed CDC requirements. Other details about plans to ensure academic integrity and student success will be shared with you shortly.  

We appreciate your continued support and understanding during this evolving global health situation and we will share with you updates as they become available. Rest assured, all questions and topics will be addressed appropriately and in a timely fashion.

We are saddened and share your disappointment around this decision. While we realize that there will be a disruption in our students' academic semester, we are making plans to create a positive alternative learning experience. Our concern for each other and our response as a Loyola community will continue to contribute to our resilience, learning and fortitude as global citizens.

This is a very fluid situation.  We will do our best to keep everyone updated in the event that there are additional changes.

Let's continue to keep each other in our thoughts and prayers.

Warm regards,

Dr. Michael F. Andrews
Director, Loyola Rome Center

February 27, 2020

We continue to monitor this quickly evolving Coronavirus situation, and in order to avoid any possible travel-related risks, we are asking students not to travel to any affected area, including the quarantined areas of northern Italy. The most affected regions are in Lombardy and Veneto. Regarding travel outside Italy, students should review the most recent updates regarding the virus in the countries they want to visit, and prepare for the eventuality of travel restrictions. They should take precautionary measures, knowing that the situation can change quickly. We are urging students to reach out to their families, who may be anxious about their safety. We are also requesting that students let the Rome Student Life team know about their travel plans, and to update and stay connected with the SAFEY app.

This is a difficult time for everyone, especially as new outbreaks are being reported in other EU countries as well as the U.S. and other parts of the world. In the Lazio/Rome area, there are currently no active Coronavirus cases. Please stay vigilant: wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as often as possible (use hand sanitizer when you do not have access to soap and water), and stay away from crowded and enclosed areas, including bars, pubs, museums, and galleries.  

Currently, there are no active cases of the Coronavirus reported in Rome or the surrounding Lazio region. The U.S. State Department is not recommending restrictions on travel entering Italy or within Italy, except to stay away from quarantined areas in northern Italy.

Students with questions or concerns are encouraged to contact any member of the Rome Student Life team. If students wish to speak to a professional counselor, the JFRC’s licensed mental health counselor is on campus twice-weekly. Any student who has a fever should inform the Rome Student Life team, reach out to the campus nurse or physician, and/or dial 112 to speak to emergency services.

February 25, 2020

Cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) have increased in the northern part of Italy in the Lombardy region. The Italian government is taking aggressive steps to address this public health concern and has quarantined towns outside Milan, Lombardy’s capital, and restricted travel to the region.

Loyola’s top concern remains the well-being and health of our students, and we are complying with the Italian government’s directives and guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The JFRC strongly recommends that all students, staff, and faculty refrain from travel to northern Italy or any area where Coronavirus has been recently identified and reported. We will update students regularly as travel restrictions change.

All students, faculty, and staff who experience a fever (regardless of where they have traveled) should consult with a medical professional. As a reminder, we provide twice-weekly office hours with a nurse, as well a licensed clinical mental health counselor. Our consulting physician and his staff are available to students 24/7.  We also have a longstanding relationship with neighboring clinics and hospitals with English-speaking health professionals.

For more information about Coronavirus, visit the World Health Organization (WHO) website.

The WHO advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from illness by following good hand and respiratory hygiene, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • If you are healthy, you do not need to wear a mask. Please consult with a doctor or medical professional on best practices for using a mask.

The JFRC is working closely with Loyola’s Wellness Center and the Office of International Programs to monitor the situation and remain in close contact with public health officials in Italy so that we can best advise our community.

As always, our students’ health and safety remains our top priority and we will continue to provide updates as this situation unfolds and as other relevant information becomes available.

In the meantime, should you have any specific questions, you can email Paula V. DeVoto, our JFRC Coordinator in Chicago, at Rome@luc.edu / 1.800.344.ROMA or Dr. Adam Muri-Rosenthal, JFRC Associate Dean of Students, at amurirosenthal@luc.edu.