ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine is canceling its study abroad program in Italy, as a precaution against the coronavirus.
On Monday, the University of Maine System issued a statement saying in part:
"The university will be working to support all community members who are abroad on university travel and impacted by the spread of the coronavirus. The protocol for anyone returning from Italy will be led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
UMaine has 14 students currently studying abroad in Italy through three programs affiliated with the university, according to officials. Those programs decided to close and evacuate students by March 10, after the U.S. State Department issued a level three advisory for that country on February 29.
"It's hard not to be disappointed and sad, but hopefully we'll have the chance to come back," sophomore Mikayla Palmer told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Palmer is set to fly home Tuesday after about two months in Italy.
She said while she is not in an area hit hard by the virus, she understands why officials made the call after U.S. Dept. of State elevated the travel advisory to 'level 3.'
"It's definitely safer to send us home before it escalates to the point where it'd be harder to leave the country," Palmer said.
The study abroad programs are now exploring online coursework, so that students can complete their credits, according to a release. Online coursework will be made available from UMaine and other University of Maine system campuses.