Coronavirus message sent on February 26, 2020

Message sent to all Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff on February 26, 2020, at the Rome Global Gateway

We are following the directives of the local and national Italian government on how to proceed. Additional updates will follow as new information is published by health authorities.

Dear students,

The Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway continues to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak in Northern Italy and has created this FAQ document to answer any questions you may have. Please carefully review it in its entirety, share the information with your emergency contact and your parents, and contact,, or any Rome-based staff should you have questions.

Information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus named COVID-19. The illness originated in Wuhan, China, but has since spread to other countries, including Italy. On February 23, 2020, the CDC classified Italy as an Alert: Level 2 advising travelers to practice enhanced precautions.

More information about this coronavirus has been posted on the CDC website and U.S. State Department website.

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, much like the common cold and flu. Coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle aches, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

Because this is a new virus, information is still developing, including all the ways it is transmitted. Anyone who has symptoms described above and has traveled to areas affected by the COVID-19 outbreak within 14 days prior or who has had contact with someone known to be infected with coronavirus (or who is currently being tested), is encouraged to contact a health care provider. Please see the section below for further details on local reporting procedures in Italy.

How can it be prevented?

As with any virus, it is important to use good self-care habits, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 70 percent alcohol
  • Cover your cough
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Don’t share food or drinks

What if I get sick in Italy and have traveled to the affected areas?

At this time, anyone presenting with a fever, cough, aches/pains who has recently traveled to the affected areas or has been in contact with people coming from the affected areas is obliged to call their medical doctor, 1500 (Ministry of Health) or 112 (general emergency number) to report their symptoms and receive information as to how to proceed. (Source: CORONAVIRUS CODIV-19: LA REGIONE LAZIO HA ATTIVATO TUTTE LE MISURE PER LA SICUREZZA). Our local Rome staff is available to assist with this, as needed. Depending on the assessment of the public health officer, you may not be allowed to return to Notre Dame facilities.

If you have flu or cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by doing the following:
  • Stay home while you are sick
  • Don’t share food or drinks
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces
You can also do some things to relieve your symptoms:
  • Take pain and fever medications
  • Use a room humidifier or take a hot shower to help ease a sore throat and cough
If you are mildly sick, you should
  • Drink plenty of liquids
  • Stay home and rest

How is Notre Dame monitoring COVID-19 globally?

University officials in South Bend continue to monitor the outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide and have met regularly since early January 2020 to review the constantly evolving situation. Since the very recent spike in COVID-19 cases confirmed in Northern Italy, officials at our Rome Global Gateway have also joined these meetings, and they have become more frequent. Notre Dame utilizes a number of resources to assess international health and safety risks, including government alerts and advisories (U.S. and foreign), open source news, alerts and reports from our international insurance and security providers, benchmarking with others in higher education, and more.

Has the University suspended any international travel or study abroad programs since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak?

Notre Dame has suspended all University-sponsored travel to mainland China and South Korea in response to the outbreaks of COVID-19 in these countries. These announcements and any future University-wide announcements can be found at and

If I already have plans to travel this weekend or during spring break, should I continue my trip?

As you prepare for spring break and any personal travel you may have planned already, we encourage you to contemplate the fluidity of the COVID-19 outbreak, not just in terms of the outbreak in Northern Italy but also beyond Italy’s border, and carefully review the guidance listed below. Your travel plans, personal health, and academic experience could be seriously affected if you do not fully research or consider the following:

  • Strongly reconsider personal travel to areas currently experiencing coronavirus outbreaks or are assessed as high risk, such as areas of Northern Italy as noted by the Italian government decree, including current quarantined areas and other movement restrictions.
  • Students must register all personal travel with Rome program staff. This is out of an abundance of caution so that staff can quickly locate and contact you in the event the situation suddenly changes in Rome or at your destination while you are away.
  • DO NOT TRAVEL IF YOU ARE SICK; travelers who are sick risk being quarantined and undergoing tests.
  • Diligently check your Notre Dame email and cell phone messages regularly, in case Notre Dame attempts to reach you should the safety of an environment deteriorate.
  • Understand and routinely check any travel and border restrictions in transit, at your proposed destination and upon your return (i.e. denial of entry or mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival).
  • Allow additional time for arrival procedures, or when passing through affected area airports, taking into account temperature and health screenings.
  • If you are traveling or transiting from COVID-19 affected areas, anticipate more stringent scrutiny and reconfirm the status of flights with your carrier or the airport.
  • Monitor developments through the U.S. State Department and CDC websites.
  • Follow all official directives by authorities.
  • Keep your mobile devices fully charged at all times.
  • Stay in touch with your emergency contact back home.
  • Pack any important documents and necessities, like your passport, visa, health insurance card, and an ample supply of any maintenance medications taken on a regular basis.

How does Notre Dame decide to suspend travel or study abroad programs?

The University’s Undergraduate Student International Student Policy has a mechanism for mandating early departure or evacuation from locations for health, safety, or security reasons. During the decision-making process, the University takes into consideration all information, advice, and alerts issued by the U.S. Department of State, the CDC, and our international insurance and security providers, in addition to established escalation triggers that are situation dependent. We also benchmark with peer institutions and our partners, when applicable.

What would happen if Notre Dame decided my study abroad program was suspended?

In the event of a program suspension, the University would return students to the United States and work directly with them and departments to minimize disruption to their academic studies.

What if I choose to leave my study abroad program that has not been suspended?

Notre Dame respects the decision of any student who wishes to return home. Students should contact the Notre Dame International office (for study abroad programs) or the School of Architecture office (for the School of Architecture Rome program), who will then work with University departments and partners to try to support the student’s completion of the coursework for their program. Please note that the awarding of academic credit will be evaluated on a case-by-case, course-by-course basis and is not guaranteed.

Who does Notre Dame send these messages to?

If international travel is registered with the University, the University will provide updates to students, faculty, and staff abroad via email to their Notre Dame email addresses. Please note that the University only contacts designated emergency contacts in very specific situations. These updates can be found at and Please consider sharing this information with your emergency contacts and your parents.

Who can I contact in Italy if I have questions about spring 2020 study abroad programs in Italy and the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Italy?

For questions about any Rome programs, please contact (for study abroad) or (for the School of Architecture)

Message sent to all Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff on February 24, 2020, at the Rome Global Gateway