All Italian universities and schools have been closed because of the Coronavirus.
Following a decree issued by the Government on the evening of 4th March, closures took effect one day later and will remain in force until at least the 15th March.
The announcement followed days of speculation over what actions the Italian State would take in order to control the spread of Covid-19, otherwise known as Coronavirus.
The number of Coronavirus cases in Italy has been steadily increasing since the first reported case in mid-February with 5,800 reported cases and 233 reported deaths as of 8 March.
On Sunday 8 March, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree enacting forced quarantine for the region of Lombardy.
The region is home to over 10 million people and also includes the financial capital, Milan. Multiple other provinces are included within this, totalling around 16 million residents affected.
The universities and schools decree earlier in the week provided additional measures to those put forward on the 22nd February which created ‘red zones’, where 50,000 people remain in quarantine across 11 communes in Lombardy and the Veneto, as well as a larger ‘yellow zone’, which covers all of Northern Italy above the line from Pisa to Rimini.
Some universities in this yellow zone have been closed since late February with teaching being suspended or carried out over distance-learning platforms. However, the Government’s latest decree now enforces a blanket compulsory closure on all educational institutions instead of relying on voluntary closure of individual institutions.
Warwick students currently on their studying abroad in Italy have been impacted by the university closures, with many deciding to return to home whilst classes are suspended.
Claudia, a third year Modern Languages student, told The Boar that “just two weeks after I arrived in Italy, all lectures were cancelled and moved online”.
“Along with the other Warwick Erasmus students in Bologna, I decided to get on the first flight home out of concern that the city might be locked down. There’s no certainty when normal teaching will resume so we are stuck in a limbo of sorts. It is a shame to be missing out on the year abroad experience in the meantime,” she said.
All mobile students have been communicated with to let them know that Warwick is consciously monitoring the situation in different countries
– University of Warwick
Other Warwick students in Italy have been advised by the International Mobility team to use their own discretion in deciding to come home.
Meanwhile, the Italian Department at Warwick cancelled it’s annual Venice Residential on the grounds that restricted airline timetables and university closures could cause practical difficulties in travel and teaching space availability.
Sports fixtures such as the England v. Italy six nations match and other events like the Venice Carnival and Milan fashion week have also faced disruptions and cancellations.
With regard to students abroad affected by the outbreak of Covid-19, the University of Warwick told The Boar: “All mobile students have been communicated with to let them know that Warwick is consciously monitoring the situation in different countries and that some students on the advice of the FCO have been asked to either return to Warwick or their home country as the FCO deem it unsafe for them to remain.
“All others have been asked to monitor the FCO website for their host country, for any changes in the advice and to act in accordance with that and the advice of their host University.”
Warwick added that “some host Universities are putting on-line learning courses in place to support students who are unable to be on their campus”.
“Academic departments are in many cases giving the option to students who are in affected areas of either returning home because they feel unsafe or of remaining on placement.
They are offering their support whichever the students decide, and departments have and are putting in place contingency plans for any students who do not complete their year,” the University said.