HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — James Madison University student Paige Moody planned to finish out her graduate degree in Florence, Italy — but her trip was cut short as concerns over the novel coronavirus widened.
"It definitely was a big shock to get the email," Moody said. "It was heartbreaking to hear that we were leaving."
In an email sent to the more than 40 students studying abroad, JMU canceled its Spring 2020 semester in Florence and its European Union Policy Studies master’s program in Florence.
Moody said after receiving the email, she had less than 72 hours to pack her bags and catch a flight back to the United States.
"It was overwhelming because I felt like I was being shoved out, which I was," Moody said. "I thought I had four months to see some things that I hadn't seen, and all of sudden, it's like I have 72 hours to return books, return keys, and move out."
Surprisingly, Moody said she flew back home last Wednesday without undergoing any health screenings. She traveled from Italy into Lisbon, then through Boston Logan International Airport and back home to Richmond International Airport.
"I was expecting wholeheartedly that I was going to be pulled or quarantined and checked. That's why I got on a flight as quickly as possible," she said.
However, she says she was not screened for the virus at any point along the way home.
As of Monday, JMU has not reported any coronavirus cases among students or faculty. There have been five cases confirmed in Virginia by the state lab (still awaiting final confirmation by the CDC), all of which have been in northern Virginia.
The university says it will reimburse students for their flights back home.
"I think the silver lining is they're working extremely hard and I'm just thankful that regardless of the situation...I get to finish my degree," she said.
On Monday, less than a week after students flew back to the U.S., Italy took the massive step of placing the entire country under travel restrictions to prevent further spread of the virus.
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