Skip to content

RWU in Florence Program Suspension Message

February 29, 2020

On Friday February 28, the CDC classified Italy at a Level 3 Travel Warning.  This update is being provided to detail the impact of this latest change in the COVID-19 infection situation in Italy and the RWU/ISI program in Florence.
Summary of Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel—Widespread Community Transmission
  • CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy.
  • There is currently a widespread, ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) caused by a novel (new) Coronavirus that can be spread from person to person.
  • Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe complications from this illness. 
At Level 3, RWU begins program suspension procedures. Our partner in Florence, ISI, has now begun that process and as of February 29 has suspended all semester operations.  Florence classes are suspended until March 16th at which time they will resume via online and remote instruction. I want to review with you the next steps and considerations for students to return to the United States as soon as possible.
Currently, many students are traveling for the spring break period. Realizing that everyone has a different travel schedule and differing personal timelines in returning to the US, I am instructing everyone to contact Advantage Travel individually via this link to follow their request procedures to re-book your return flight from Florence.
  • Please complete this request as soon as possible with the understanding that flight availability will be somewhat limited in the near term.
  • The change fee cost of rebooking your FLORENCE to US return flight will be billed to Roger Williams University. Any requests for return flights from cities outside of Florence RWU will cover up to the change cost of the Florence to US flight and the student will pays Advantage directly any cost difference.
  • All efforts will be made to get students booked on the same return flight but this will depend on how quickly students respond, what the preferred dates of return are and what airports students prefer to fly back into. 
  • Also, Advantage will prioritize the most urgent requests first, and those who are not in a rush to return will be next. 
Some questions that have come up over the last few hours:
  • Can students remain in apartments and complete courses electronically? Because program operations are being suspended, it will be difficult to support students if they remain in Florence. Additionally, if the situation in Italy changes even slightly, there is a good likelihood that it may move to a Department of State Warning Level 4 which will severely restrict the ability to leave the country.  Also, the increased exposure and chance of contracting the virus are increasing and we do not want to have students put into that situation. Therefore, students should plan to return to the US as soon as possible.
  • What kind of refunds are to be expected?  Students who have paid their site visit/course fees will be refunded by ISI for trips and excursions not utilized.  We will be working out the refund amounts and schedules for Architecture Studio fees which will be processed and handled by RWU via student bursar accounts. Due to the extraordinary nature of this situation we are coordinating all efforts to recoup housing expenses and will advise you in a subsequent communication whether any refunds for a portion of the housing fees will be available.
 I know many students are upset that the program has to be suspended and feel that they are being “punished”, but unfortunately the situation we find ourselves in is beyond any one’s control. This decision is necessary given the designations made by the US government and the overall developments of the situation in Italy.  We have to make decisions that are guided by student health and safety factors while also abiding by US Department of State and CDC guidance.  
Continued updates with information that comes available will be posted regularly.
The Spiegel Center