Ga. students quarantined as colleges halt some study abroad classes

Stephen Nease, 20, is a second-year Georgia Tech student who has been quarantined in Metz, France, since Wednesday. He’s there as part of a study abroad program. Nease said he felt ill while visiting Scotland, and health officials asked him to be quarantined as a precautionary measure.

Stephen Nease, 20, is a second-year Georgia Tech student who has been quarantined in Metz, France, since Wednesday. He’s there as part of a study abroad program. Nease said he felt ill while visiting Scotland, and health officials asked him to be quarantined as a precautionary measure.

Georgia’s largest colleges and universities have now suspended study abroad programs in three nations significantly impacted by the deadly coronavirus and are making students self-quarantine while overseas or before returning to campus.

The University of Georgia sent notice to 84 students Friday in its study abroad program in Italy that the program has been suspended and those in Italy are being brought home. The UGA students in Italy cannot return to campus in Athensuntil conducting a two-week self-quarantine, it said in a message to those students. Georgia State and Kennesaw State universities said Monday they are asking students who had been in South Korea, another nation struggling with the virus, to act similarly upon their return.

About 50 Georgia Tech students in a study abroad program in France, many of whom recently traveled to Italy, are under a two-week quarantine. Georgia Tech said in a statement Monday the self-quarantine is being done “out of an abundance of caution and at the direction of French and international health agencies.”

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Stephen Nease, one of the Georgia Tech students in France, said he understood why they’re being asked to self-quarantine, but some classmates — antsy to return to doing lab work — think it’s unnecessary.

The Atlanta-based U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in early February issued a Level 3 warning recommending against all nonessential travel to China as worldwide fears increased about the virus. It extended the warning last week, first to South Korea, then to Italy and Iran.

Some Georgia schools are considering halting all study abroad trips, which has been recommended by the CDC. Morehouse College, a private, historically black college in Atlanta, on Friday suspended upcoming study abroad programs to Ghana and Senegal because flight connections were in areas in which cases of the coronavirus disease have been reported. To date, no Georgia students have been diagnosed with the deadly virus.

Nease, 20, a second-year mechanical engineering student, said in a telephone interview that he’s been under quarantine since Wednesday. He recently visited Scotland and complained to health officials of a stomach illness during his travels. Although the health officials do not believe he has the virus, Georgia Tech recommended isolation for the next two weeks.

Nease arrived in France in early January. The study abroad is in the town of Metz, known for its Roman archaeological collection and St. Steven’s Cathedral, nicknamed “God’s Lantern” because of its high, stained-glass windows. He gets his groceries delivered and faculty send him emails with lecture notes and class assignments. Nease described the experience as “lonely, but doable.”

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Nease said he understands why he was asked to join the quarantine, although he wasn’t in one of the countries under the Level 3 warning.

“I’ll trade the peace of mind for the precaution,” he said.

Nease said there’s been ample chatter among the students about post-quarantine plans. Nease and some friends plan to hang out at a favorite nearby spot, “to blow off some steam for a few hours.”

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