NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus outbreak is causing major problems for college students.
As the virus continues to spread in Italy, New York University announced Tuesday it is closing its campus in Florence.
Students living on campus have been given three days to leave and those living off campus are being strongly urged to get out of town, CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon reported.
NYU said while none of its students, faculty or employees have contracted coronavirus around the world, it made the decision to cancel classes out of an abundance of caution.
Around 300 students on the Florence campus were making last-minute travel arrangement to leave Italy, including 20-year-old Alvaro Barrera.
“Last night, at around 11:45 they told us to leave and it was due to the coronavirus outbreak that was happening in northern Italy,” Barrera said via Skype.
NYU said the decision was made as the number of people dying from coronavirus in Italy continues to climb. Students have been told they have until Thursday to leave.
Classes will resume on Monday through an online portal called Zoom, and the goal is to have students return to campus by the end of March.
“We had to send proof that we were leaving, either a flight ticket or a train ride or proof that we were leaving the country,” Barrera said.
Those who live off campus are also being urged to leave. The school said it will not be able to provide services to those who choose to stay.
Brooklyn native Wendell Jamieson said his son, Dean, is already on his way to London.
“This was abrupt. I was sort of angry about this. I felt we didn’t get early enough notice,” Jamieson said.
NYU said the goal is to protect the health of its students, adding it took similar precautions at its Shanghai campus at the beginning of February after the local government delayed the start of classes for the spring semester. Students are now taking online classes and some international students were sent to other NYU campuses around the world.
“I realize it was a tough choice that if they waited too long and the whole city was quarantined I would be even more unhappy, so they’re doing the best they can,” Jamieson said.
The university has said it will help students with financial assistance, including plane tickets and housing. However, Barrera said the school should also reimburse tuition costs.
“It’s definitely not the experience that I was going for. Academically, I wanted to go to the museums and learn about the art,” Barrera said.
NYU said it is monitoring the coronavirus situation at home and abroad and will modify its plan for its students as necessary.
NYU said no students, faculty or employees have coronavirus, adding that the actions were taken as a precaution.