MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The University of St. Thomas has made the decision to close its educational programs in Rome after “closely monitoring the spread of coronavirus.”

There has been a recent rise of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Italy, and in response Italian officials have adopted a nationwide prohibition of school trips, travel restrictions, and quarantines in areas of northern Italy.

Now, St. Thomas is cancelling the remainder of the Saint John Vianney/Catholic Studies Rome Semester and closing its Bernardi Campus on Friday, March 6.

School officials are encouraging all students to return to the United States as soon as possible. Arrangements are being made to allow students to complete their classes in St. Paul.

“We simply cannot predict how COVID-19 will continue to spread throughout Italy, and we believe it is in the best interests of our students to leave Rome before the ability to do so is restricted,” the university wrote in a letter sent to students and parents.

We are proud of St. Thomas’ study abroad programs and are blessed with unique resources like our Bernardi Campus to offer our students rich experiences. Ultimately, though, we hope you understand this decision was made in the interest of the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff. We want to stress that health risks for our students are low at this time. However, with the virus outbreak still not being fully understood and the potential for rapidly changing travel restrictions, we want to be proactive in bringing students on these programs home.

-University Of St. Thomas