Ohio State University and Walsh University are among the other Ohio colleges and universities that also have announced plans to bring their students back from their study abroad programs in Italy.

Eighteen students from Kent State University at Stark who were studying abroad in Italy or South Korea are returning home this week as concerns of the coronavirus spread.


Sarah Schmidt, assistant director of Kent State Stark’s global education initiatives, said the Stark campus students are among the roughly two dozen Kent State students studying in South Korea and the roughly 200 students studying in Florence, Italy that are being evacuated. The evacuations were triggered by the travel health notices issued by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that recommended avoiding all nonessential travel to the two countries due to the coronavirus. The virus, also known as COVID-19, was first identified in December in Wuhan, China and causes flu-like symptoms that can range from mild to serious. No vaccine to prevent the virus and no specific antiviral treatment currently exists.


The CDC on Sunday also issued a recommendation that all higher education institutions consider postponing or canceling upcoming student foreign exchange and study abroad programs and should consider asking current program participants to return to their home country. The recommendation applied to travel to any country, including those not yet witnessing an outbreak.


Ohio State University and Walsh University are among the other Ohio colleges and universities that also have announced plans to bring back their students from their study abroad programs in Italy.


Coming home


The returning Kent State Stark students who were studying in South Korea began returning home over the weekend. The first flight to bring students home from Italy will arrive today.


Kent State has asked all students to remain off campus and to self-isolate and self-monitor for at least 14 days as a precautionary measure.


Schmidt said the Stark campus students who had been studying in Italy will continue their classes online.


In South Korea, the students had not yet started their classes for the semester. Schmidt said Kent State Stark is working with the students to ensure they can continue their studies without interruption.


According to the CDC, the risk of contracting the coronavirus in the United States remains low and no confirmed cases in Ohio have been reported.


Reach Kelli at 330-580-8339 or kelli.weir@cantonrep.com.


On Twitter: @kweirREP