The University of Oklahoma is closing its Italy programs for the spring semester due to the increase in coronavirus cases in the country, the university said Monday.

The programs, which include OU Arezzo and all other Italy study abroad programs, will close effective at 5 p.m. local Italy time on Thursday, March 5, until further notice, according to an OU press release.

Students are strongly encouraged to return to the United States as soon as arrangements can be made, ideally by no later than Friday, March 6.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of State issued Level 3 travel warnings for Italy after the first death in the United States was reported on Saturday.

All students and employees will not be permitted to return to any OU campus or any off-campus U.S. site until they:

  1. complete the telephone medical screening through their student/employee health service, and 
  2. complete the 14-day self-isolation period, and 
  3. complete a follow-up telephone medical screening call through student/employee health: 
    Norman: 405-325-4611; OUHSC: 405-271-9675; OU-Tulsa: 918-660-3102. 

The news release stated the following about the self-isolation period:

"All employees and students returning to the United States must comply with the guidelines and restrictions provided in the link below, as may be updated, and must self-isolate and remain away from University campuses and events (including off-campus U.S. sites) through the self-isolation period. The self-isolation period begins on the date of your arrival in the U.S. or your last contact with an individual arriving in the U.S. from or through any of the impacted countries, whichever is longer. Presently, those countries are China, Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Japan, and South Korea. The current self-isolation period is 14 days but may be lengthened as additional information becomes available."

Students who require assistance with return arrangements should call the university's student affairs office at 405-325-3161. 

So far, OU study abroad programs scheduled for summer 2020 have not been canceled by the university, but all plans should be considered tentative and alternative options considered.