Coronavirus Outbreak Cancels Spring Break Trip To Italy

Bruna Vila Artigues, News Editor

All Connecticut state colleges and universities have been directed to cancel a number of courses abroad to several countries due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. This decision has impacted a number of students, including the Central Connecticut’s trip to Italy.

The novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that emerged in China has now been detected in 60 locations internationally, with Italy becoming the main focus of the epidemic. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Italy has surpassed the first two levels of watch and alert and is now under the level three: warning.

The CDC “recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to Italy” and explains that “there is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.”

Under these circumstances, several universities in Connecticut —such as UConn and Trinity College— have been forced to suspend and cancel any study abroad programs and trips. CCSU is now another university being affected by the outbreak.

Communication Professor Karen Ritzenhoff, among others, had been planning a trip to Italy during 2020 spring break for a year. All the planning and hours invested came to a halt when President Dr. Zulma R. Toro sent a campus-wide email on Thursday Feb. 27 announcing the cancellation.

“Based on the CDC information, we have canceled the University-sponsored trip to Italy which was scheduled to depart in about 10 days. I feel for our students and faculty who had been planning this adventure for quite some time, but we have an obligation to keep them as healthy and safe as possible,” Dr. Toro stated.

Professor Ritzenhoff, who was understanding of the circumstances, was extremely heartbroken about the cancellation.

“We worked for a year to make it all happen and the students have been so incredibly excited,” Ritzenhoff said. “I love the group. We had 19 students sign up; five of them are graduate students.”

Many of the students registered for the course were disappointed at the cancellation. With the trip being less than three weeks away, the announcement was less than ideal as many of whom had already purchased items for the trip.

English student Olivia Grella explained that they had spent the class time doing presentations on different places and that she had already purchased many items for the trip.

“The close time frame of the announcement made the cancellation more of a hassle after I spent a lot of time prepping for the trip,” Grella added.


Even though most of them had a feeling that the university would make this decision and understood the reasons for the the state and the university to take precautions, students were still shocked and disappointed.

Aridyan Perez, a strategic communication student, explained that she was at work when she opened the email and that her “heart dropped” and “felt a lump in [her] throat forming.”

“When I first heard the coronavirus had spread to Italy, my heart sank,” Deena Lavado, a strategic communications student, said.

“I’m glad the school is looking out for our best interest in the situation,” Lavado said. “It would have been an amazing and memorable opportunity, but it’s important to keep our health and well-being a first priority.”

Marketing student Victoria Veneziano was also “devastated over the trip being cancelled,” since she is 100 percent Italian and it was going to be her first time visiting the country her family was born in.

Veneziano also understands that the university wants to keep them safe and she is glad that no one’s lives will be at risk.

However, all the preparation, hard work, time spent and even the money invested make it hard to swallow the decision.

Perez said that it still does not feel real, and she truly hopes that the Center for International Education considers the possibility of rescheduling the trip.

For the time being, the students are getting reimbursed and there has been no word on a possible future travel date.